I found yoga over 10 years ago and it saved my life. People who know me personally know that I struggled with drugs in my late teens and early 20s. I lived a reckless lifestyle, got in trouble with the law, and almost destroyed myself instead of the demons inside. It took a stint in rehab or 2 to finally get clean after years of putting toxins in my body all day everyday. I had lost all my friends; the good ones left because of the drugs and the bad ones left because I stopped doing drugs. I was sick, weak, lonely, and on the edge. Yoga was first introduced to me by one of the counselors in rehab. She said when things get real dark I could try yoga to help me see the light again. I thought she was crazy but was willing to try anything. Something changed in me the first time I did yoga. Never buying into the propaganda of organized religion, yoga & mediation gave me my first spiritual experience.
Fast forward a few years and I was heavily involved in my local yoga community. My sobriety & sanity depend on it to this day. I attended classes at my gym as well as yoga studios. I was reading Light On Yoga and Yoga Girl and Namaslay and immersing myself into the internet modern yoga culture. I found that while everyone meant well, not all studios and not all yogis are about inclusivity. I’ve gotten judgmental stares because I was a little bit curvier, a little less flexible, and I can’t do a handstand. The CEO of the pinnacle yoga apparel company, Lululemon, publicly stated that he encourages his employees to fat shame people out of their stores because he doesn’t want fat people wearing his products. (Feel free to google that, it 100% happened.)
Was this the community I was a part of? Was I not welcome because my size has double digits? My jeans are a size 11 I have hips for days what can I say 🤷♀️. Why did my classes always feel like a competition? Everyone looking around to see if they were out-posing the person next to them. It all felt very fake, considering what real yoga means.
I took a step away for awhile. I stopped going to yoga classes at the gym and had a strictly at home practice using online videos from yogis that I actually admired. It was here that I got my passion back. I realized that a gym is probably not the best place to take a yoga class and that I’d have to choose my studios wisely.
I found my second home in some of the local studios in my hometown. Riverside Yoga and Repose Yoga in Newburyport really made me feel welcome and unjudged, and are happily inclusive to all students. And then there’s The Cure Studios in Salisbury. Those fierce ladies are starting an all out movement. No matter age, body type, race, or pronoun, they welcome you with open arms and are genuinely passionate about what they do and how they affect the community around them. Even the teachers are a range of ages, genders, body types, and races. From yoga, to buti, to aerial, to dance, they are all about empowerment & wellness for everybody. It is a female owned business and they are changing the industry for the better. If you’re local to our area I highly suggest you take a class at any one of these amazing studios.
Well now you know how yoga saved me. Maybe now it can save you too 💖