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Elephants Welcome.

I started taking yoga classes when my middle son was just young, maybe 19 or 20 years ago. It was sporadic at best, I went to a local community hall that was so full of people that I couldn't believe it and I definitely felt way out of my comfort zone. I was surrounded by people that had been doing yoga for years and I knew nothing and certainly didn't look the part.


Have you seen the Disney / Pixar movie Inside Out? The one that has joy as the main emotion and she and depression have to work together to save the little girl that they are inside of? Well in that movie they talk about core memories and how they are formed and how important core memories are. Well, one of my favorite core memories of my sister came from one of these yoga classes...


We were instructed to do legs up the wall and have never done it before...and if you've ever had to come into legs up the wall you know that there is a hack or a trick to get into it. Well, we had no idea and the walls were super crowded with people so we laid on our backs and tried to scooch our well endowed bums towards the wall. It was so funny. My sister farted under the strain. We started laughing. And we couldn't stop. The teacher started laughing and although she was able to gain her composure my sister and I could not. We had the giggles and just couldn't stop. We were asked to leave. I don't necessarily blame the teacher, we were being rather disruptive, but nonetheless we weren't wanted there in that state.


Looking back at it now, I can see that I was so embarrassed about not being able to get my legs up the wall, and so embarrassed to be in this large body in the class to begin with, I was probably laughing so that I didn't cry. We left that class still laughing, but it took us a long time to go back to a yoga class after that. Instead I bought some Rodney Yee DVDs and tried to do yoga from home. I would try again and again to find a class in studio but never once did it feel safe.


It was some time later that I took a yoga class for people with pain and disabilities, I didn't have either, but it was the only class that I felt remotely comfortable in or moved at a pace that I could manage (I was still relatively new at this time) and I was the youngest in the class by probably twenty-five years. Again, I didn't fit.


One day I was googling plus-size yoga and I came across a local yoga studio that promised that all bodies were accepted. My very first class became another core memory. I can remember what I was wearing, exactly what the room looked like, what the teacher was wearing and the music that was playing. It was fairly close to the beginning of class when she said "If your belly is in the way, pick it up and move it, its just flesh". I was blown away. NEVER had someone in a fitness setting acknowledged that I had a belly, it was always treated like the elephant in the room that nobody wanted to talk about. And it had certainly never been talked about with such lack or morality. Usually when I or anyone talked about my belly it was bad and needed to be rid of. It wasn't something that simply existed, matter of factly. I was certainly not accepted.


Throughout the class she cued to move other fleshy parts of our body that may be hindering our movement, the flesh of our arms, bums and even our bigger breasts. For the first time in a yoga setting I felt one hundred percent safe. I cried through Savasana.


So whereas my first public class memory is a core memory, my first safe and accessible public class is where and when yoga changed my life. I was allowed to be me, just as I was. I was not only accepted BUT ALSO wanted.


Much time has gone by since then, and I have taken many trainings to be the best possible yoga teacher I can be, including Trauma Informed Training, Accessible Teacher Training, Mental Health Teacher Training and others. And when I opened my studio it was built on the foundation of making yoga accessible for all (on the south side of the city, the other studio is still open on the west end). I never want people to feel that they cant do something because of their size or ability. If you cant get your legs up the wall we have chairs for that reason, and you don't need to be in a class of only seniors to find a class that moves at a comfortable pace for you. But yet also, seniors are not boxed into a class that assumes they are weak or immobile. And what about those of us who like fast paced yoga? We should have a place to practice where our size, age or ability isn't the elephant in the room. You and your elephant are welcome at Enrich.


My yoga studio is not the biggest (we fit 8 per class), it is not the most fancy, it isnt hot yoga and we don't teach inversions. But what we do, we do well. We are here to make you feel accepted and safe. We are here to help you learn the abilities and boundaries of your body in a safe and even fun way. We try new things, sometimes they work and some-

times they don't. We are the studio that values the needs of the individual. You can be yourself here.


I would never have thought twenty years ago that I would be a studio owner, especially after being asked to leave one of my first classes, especially not after


getting frustrated with not being able to keep up with a Rodney Yee DVD. But I am so glad that I am. I am thrilled to be sharing yoga as it was meant to be shared, through authenticity and acceptance for all who come to practice.


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Beautiful! You are an inspiration for all! I love reading your blogs.

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vaxline
vaxline
21 Οκτ 2023

Beautifully said. I'm an apple shape, no discernible waist, and remember saying "I'm taking a moment to adjust my waistband, 'cause if you're an apple like me, it's rolled down under the belly button.", when I was teaching a class. Just a statement of fact, while I taught, no judgement. Never really thought about it, but after class, a student thanked me, because it gave her a momant to adjust her waistband without embarrassment too. It was a huge teaching moment for me, and informed my teaching style from that day forward.

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barbimurray
barbimurray
20 Οκτ 2023

Rodney Yee takes me back! I had his DVDs as well. Thank you Misty for making yoga for safe and accessible for Every Body 💕

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pdilts
pdilts
20 Οκτ 2023

Beautiful Misty. 👏💖

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The inclusive environment is what drew me to your studio. I researched studios in the city, especially on the southside of the city, and then kept reading for a few weeks before I took the leap and signed up for my first in person yoga class…and I’m glad I did. It’s been only positive experiences!

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