It’s always a treat to meet customers face to face after only knowing them through email or phone conversations. While visiting our daughter Zoe Welch in Austin over Thanksgiving last year, Heidi Scholz and her spouse, Scott, generously agreed to meet me for lunch.
They recommended East Side Café, an elegantly cozy home turned restaurant. A local favorite, East Side Café is best known for pioneering urban farming as early as the 1980’s. As we savored their famous enchiladas, we traded notes on how Heidi’s Soul Seat journey began.
Pack Matthews: Is my memory correct that you got in touch with us after hearing about the Soul Seat through Katy Bowman?
Heidi Scholz: That is correct. I was on my own personal journey after I did my yoga training and had injured myself. Looking for relief and searching through the internet, I saw the words “nutritious movement” and started to research that. I tried a few of Katy’s suggestions and thought “this is really awesome.”
I saw one of her YouTube videos where she was on the Soul Seat and she said, “If you don’t have one of these yet, you need to look into this.” And she showed all the ways you could use it and I said, “Yes! Yes, I do need one of those.” Because that’s the way I was trying to move my body. I was trying to do it in a natural way, not sitting in a chair.
I realized it hurt to sit in a chair. I felt worse after I sat in a chair. I tried to standup. I tried to sit on the floor. I tried to do anything but sit in a chair. The Soul Seat sounded like the answer to what I was looking for. So, lo’ and behold! I have one!
Pack: You hadn’t actually tried a Soul Seat.
Heidi: No, I had not.
Pack: I remember you contacted me, curious if there was anyone in the Austin area that had one.
Heidi: Right. I contacted you and you had a demo that you were willing to ship to me to try. If I liked it, I could keep it, and if I didn’t, I would be refunded when I ship it back. All I had to do was pay for the shipping back. So, of course, I did like it. It was just exactly what I was looking for. I think we modified it. We took off the wheels because I was using in on my tile floor.
Pack: Oh, that’s right! You have the glides rather than casters.
Heidi: Yes. I have the glides because I use it primarily on my tile floor and, not wanting to cause further injury to myself, decided that with the swivel and the wheels, it was probably too advanced for me on the tile. The glides work really well.
Pack: You still use those?
Heidi: I still use the glides. If I ever put the chair on a different surface that wouldn’t cause me injury, I would probably put the wheels back on.
Pack: I remember shipping the chair with some marketing materials because you were going to display it at a yoga festival.
Heidi: The Living Yoga program has a number of offerings. For example, they have their teacher training which is a nine-day intensive here at the ashram in Austin. Another thing they do is a yoga retreat. And that’s in October. Anybody who is interested in any kind of body work, health work, anything at all, can participate. They draw in teachers from all over the country.
The classes include everything from just meditation all the way through pretty intensive vinyasa yoga classes, but for the most part they’re about an hour and a half to three hours. They have some very well-renowned people come and talk to these students.
So, I brought the chair with me. Being in classes myself, I didn’t sit on the chair the whole time, but I sat there when I could. I set it right outside the massage room. And I put all the promotional material there with the chair. When I was sitting on it, I’d invite people to come and try it.
I received a lot of positive response, especially from all the people who are into doing something better for their body. And if you look at yoga students in a class that lasts for two or three hours, they are definitely modifying their seating. They are sitting on their blocks and their bolsters and they’re lying down and they’re putting their legs up the wall and they’re just moving. They’re listening to their bodies and they’re moving in a way to make themselves feel better. They were very interested in the Soul Seat. A lot of people took information.
Charles MacInerney and Ellen Smith, the organizers of the program, were extremely interested in the Soul Seat.
Pack: In addition to yours, we’ve sold two Soul Seats in Austin and then a recent customer from Houston mentioned she was at your program and saw the Soul Seat there. She said, “I knew as soon as I sat on it, that I would own one someday.”
Heidi: That’s awesome!
Pack: Were there any reactions from folks at the yoga retreat that surprised you?
Heidi: They were perplexed as to how to actually use the seat, even with all the pictures up there. With the Soul Seat, there’s really no one way to use it. I would point to the poster to show that this guy is using it all different ways. Then, once they started to try it they’re like, “Oh, that’s really cool!” Everyone was remarking “Wow! I wish I could have one of these.” Of course, for some of them it’s a money issue. These are full-time yoga teachers and as much as they would love to have one, it’s just not a reality for them until they are in a different place.
Pack: We’ve heard that concern. We now have the scheduled payments program. You can thank my daughter Hannah for helping us figure out how to set that up.
Heidi: Oh! That’s awesome.
Pack: Hannah found a way to work with our credit card processor to set it up like a subscription. We don’t even have to charge interest.
Heidi: That’s so good to know.
Pack: Does anyone else use your chair at home?
Heidi: Pimarily it’s me. I’m kinda small so it’s set for me. Scott is a bit larger. His legs are kinda long.
Pack: We do have your size Scott.
Heidi: Who else uses my chair? I invite everyone who comes to my home to try it.
Pack: Have you noticed how hesitant folks are to try the Soul Seat?
Heidi: Yes! They’ll say, “I don’t know about this.” To reassure them I say, “It’ll feel good.” Once they give it a try I point out the pelvic tilt and their nice straight back. And I say, “See how much nicer that feels instead of slouching forward and caving in your chest?” So, it’s a journey. A lot of my friends don’t do yoga so they’re all tight and it doesn’t feel natural yet.
Pack: In a sense they are right that they’re going to experience a bit of discomfort on the Soul Seat.
Heidi: Yes. For a lot of my students it’s a knee issue. They’re afraid to bend their knees back like that. “Oh, I can’t do that.” I say, “Sure you can! We just have to get you high enough and get your legs down low enough and you’ll be able to do it. I can get any of my students into hero pose with enough props. And I do. They’re very surprised to find out that I am right. They can do it. It’s just – you’re not going to be flat on the floor. You’ll be sitting up on multiple bolsters, but you’re going to be able to get in that posture. That’s what the chair will do as well.
Pack: Tell us about the specific training you acquired for these students.
Heidi: I did the Cardiac Medical Yoga program here in Austin. It was created by Dr Mala Cunningham from Charlottesville, Virginia after her teacher/mentor had open heart surgery. She realized there wasn't a resource for him to heal which combined both physical and emotional modalities. Cardiac Yoga is now covered by Medicare for post-surgical patients. Extensive research shows using a combination of breathing, meditation and mindful gentle stretching will do as much as some prescription drugs.
Pack: We’re always pleased to hear how research and reimbursements are confirming what we Yoga practitioners have experienced ourselves. Do you have a favorite posture on the Soul Seat?
Heidi: Hero pose is my favorite. I just love that. It just feels so good to me and then when my knees get a little tired of doing that then I switch. I can cross them in front or I put one foot up and the other crossed. And sometimes I spin it around and just sit on the seat. When I’m in a hurry, that’s what I’ll do.
Pack: When you sit backwards, the Soul Seat is like an adjustable ball chair isn’t it?
Heidi: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. I had a ball chair as well and I gave that away because I like this better.
Pack: Scott, do you hear her complaining about other chairs a lot?
Scott: Yes. Constantly. She complains about furniture in general and virtually every other chair she has to sit in.
Pack: The Soul Seat experience ruins our tolerance for any other chair doesn’t it?
Heidi: It does! It’s just like, “Oh man! I don’t want to sit on that chair? I want to sit on my Soul Seat.” Don’t I say that Scott? Especially those soft, squishy chairs that people like, “Here! Sit here! It’s nice and soft.” The other thing folks will say is, “Just sit down! Sit down!” I don’t want to sit. I want to stand thank you.
Pack: Do folks take it personally when you don’t sit on their furniture?
Heidi: They do take it personally.
Pack: They seem to say, “I’m offering you this great furniture and you’re turning me down.”
Heidi: They offer you the king’s chair and instead you want to sit on the floor. I usually take a seat on the floor, and they’ll say, “You can sit here.”
“No, I don’t want to. Thank you though. My back will feel terrible when I get up from that chair.”
The Soul Seat is just an awesome piece of furniture and I’m glad I found it. I couldn’t be happier. Maybe I’ll get another one someday, one of those sleek ones with the wooden legs.
Pack: Scott, do you notice that she’s happier using it? Healthier?
Scott: Yes. Definitely. Definitely.
Scott: And she uses it all day, whenever she’s sitting.
Heidi: At the computer or eating.
Pack: Eating too?
Heidi: I move it to my kitchen table. If I’m eating, I’m sitting on my Soul Seat.
Pack: As we wrap this up, is there anything you’d like to tell folks who are curious about the Soul Seat, to whom it looks intriguing, but don’t have easy access to one for a test run?
Heidi: Have faith that it will be an answer to some of your pain prayers. I don’t think there would be an instance where you would regret your purchase of the Soul Seat. Even if there’s discomfort at first, once you’ve modified and accommodated it to your own body, over time you would come to love it and want one at every surface that you work at.