My Personal Yoga Journey
I realized I haven't shared much here about how and why I took the steps to become a yoga teacher. To be honest, sometimes I still hesitate to call myself a yoga teacher. Isn't it funny how the mind likes to convince us that we're not good enough, knowledgeable enough or (Insert word here:_____ ) enough to call ourselves something so significant?
Back in 2011, I was doing a lot. I was going to graduate school for Social Work, working full-time at a domestic violence shelter, and starting a photography business all at once. It was hectic but I was happy because I was involved with many of my passions - creating something beautiful for people, learning and growing, and serving others. It was a busy time so in typical Abby-fashion, I figured "What better time to decide to get my yoga teacher certification", right!?? Yes- it sounds a bit crazy but I've been known to over-complicate my life (and my schedule) which is one perfect example of why I benefit from yoga!
As I was in school working toward my MSW, I became very passionate about helping survivors of human trafficking and exploitation, along with other women and children who had suffered abuse and trauma of all kinds. My job allowed for me to work closely with some of the women at the DV shelter. I also volunteered with a beautiful non-profit that worked with girls and young women who had experienced sex trafficking and exploitation. The work was heavy at times, but I knew I was made for it. I had a deep desire to be someone who entered-in with others in hard places, and provided support, love, and and hopefully some kind of healing. But because the work was heavy, I needed some tangible ways to care for myself, too. Yoga became a way to do that.
I loved practicing yoga for my own well-being. I felt it gave me peace, helped me connect with God and myself, and enabled me to make time for some quiet s p a c e in my life. It helped me slow down - at least for that one intentional hour, and hit the reset button.
Because there are many pieces my story and writing it all would turn into a small novel, I decided to just write some of the bullet-points of my yoga and professional journey up to this point:
- Around 2006, I began to fall in love with yoga because of how it made me feel. It gave me peace, helped me connect with God and with myself, and helped me make time for more space in my life to decompress and restore physically and mentally.
- In 2011, I was going to graduate school for Social Work, and from my studies, realized that yoga had some real and lasting healing effects for people struggling with PTSD and other symptoms of trauma.
- Around that time I was involved with a non-profit that served girls and young women who were recovering from sexual exploitation. I could see from my interactions with these special girls that they needed more than just 'talk therapy'. They needed other embodied tools to address their struggles.
- My yoga studio at the time was offering a yoga teacher training and I jumped in and got my certification in 2012 from cambio. yoga in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
- Over the next couple of years, I continued my studies and took more trainings to learn about trauma and incorporating yoga in the healing of trauma-related struggles.
- In 2014 I began offering trauma-informed yoga to juveniles in the Department of Youth Corrections in Colorado. *
- In 2014 and on, I taught yoga classes and workshops in my community of Colorado Springs, as well as had opportunities to travel and offer trauma-informed yoga to foster and adoptive parents, youth in foster care, and women who were exhausted from leading ministries/non-profits around the world.
- In 2015 I experienced some deep loss, grief, and trauma from a few life-changing experiences. The most impactful was losing my mom to a sudden and unexpected death. It rocked me to my core and caused me a lot of heartbreak for many reasons. She died only a couple months after we found out the babies we thought we were adopting were not even real. This could be a whole novel in itself (which may come about someday!). If you're curious about that story and others, you can read about it here but for now, I'll veer back to the topic of this post...
- In 2016 and 2017 I had a lot of my own healing work to do. I experienced what I would call a grief-induced depression and had to find ways to keep going. I thank God and my husband, family and friends who loved me well through those hard couple of years. I'm also thankful for my yoga practice. Because grief is held in the body (more on this to come!), I knew I needed to incorporate movement as an integral part of my healing journey.
- In early 2017, we made the big move from Colorado to New York. I took time to continue to rest and heal for a few months and then as the fog of grief finally started to lift, I began dreaming again. I began dreaming of opening a space where people could feel safe and welcomed to access the healing practices that have helped me so much.
- Flourish Body + Soul opened in March of 2018!
It's been a journey! And I've left some things out because there's just so much. If you ever want to hear more about my experiences or my trainings, I'm happy to share! One thing I wanted to mention, because it impacted my journey a lot;
*Working with the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections was such a gift to me. I truly felt honored that I got the chance to meet some of the kids in the facilities and offer a space for them to feel seen and to have an opportunity to reconnect with themselves on a different level. I worked with over fifty kids during my time working with DYC. I saw some really encouraging changes in some of them, and overall, the feedback was pretty positive! I heard a number of times how much better they felt after doing yoga, and how the breathing exercises were effective in helping calm their body and mind.
So here I am today: continuing on my journey toward healing and wholeness.
Looking for ways to equip myself to guide others in this process, I found Yoga Therapy. Next week, I leave for the first part of my 800 hr Yoga Therapy Certification! I'll be training with Inner Peace Yoga Therapy - starting with a two week intensive this September and another one in February!
Yoga Therapy, for those who haven't heard of it, is a therapeutic modality which uses the tools of yoga (including breath, meditation, mindfulness, wellness, and other holistic forms of healing) to help a client with a specific struggle or issue. In my own experience, yoga therapy has helped me work through some deep grief and loss, and has helped me navigate and stay grounded during a huge transition time in my life (moving here from a home and place that I dearly loved). I have one of my teachers Jessica Patterson at Root Center for Yoga and Sacred Studies to thank for walking alongside me during that time. I also found it to be very physically healing for me during a time when I was experiencing low thyroid levels and very low energy. I've offered this in some forms for women and youth over the years who've experienced some kind of trauma, and it's been amazing to see the benefits it has offered. You can read more about yoga therapy and what sessions might be like here.
I'm so excited to dive into this work and begin incorporating these offerings at the studio very soon. If you're curious or think yoga therapy might be beneficial to you, feel free to hit reply or check out this page or contact me for more information. I'd be honored to walk alongside you in your healing journey.
I can't wait to share more once I've done my first section of the training. I know I'll be learning so much and my hope is that I'm able to incorporate these powerful tools back here in Port Jervis and beyond.