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Mark Dedeaux, a partner of TruGroup Fitness, brings a lot of “sweat equity” as an Area Developer and Franchise Owner of the TruFusion brand.

Read Mark’s story to see how TruFusion has inspired him on his journey to not only lose weight and become physically fit but also vastly improve his emotional and mental well being.

In May 2015, I left a 23 year corporate career. At that time I weighed 270lbs, had food allergies, high blood pressure, and severe anxiety. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I had to begin to regain my physical, emotional, and mental wellness. However, because of my anxiety I was reluctant to do any vigorous exercise for fear that my health condition was too severe to handle it. So I began walking every day and slowing started to incorporate some higher intensity training.

All the while I was reading more and more about the benefits of yoga and other group fitness classes. I had some friends who were members at TruFusion that were encouraging me to try a class there, but at the time I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Sadly, my self image was so low that I was intimidated about the idea of working out in a gym let alone a group class. So for 4 months I continued my workouts on my own and slowly started to increase the intensity.

I was making some progress but it was slow, and because I was doing it alone, I was losing my motivation. Right around that time I came across a very small yoga class and decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed learning about yoga, and mentioned to one of my friends who was a member at TruFusion that I was taking a class. She finally convinced me to go to TruFusion, and the rest is history.

From the first day I felt comfortable in the environment, which was surprising because my previous experiences at “gyms”. It was completely the opposite of what I expected. The people there were very welcoming and there was an openness that I had never experienced. I found that while the classes were really hard, I was motivated to push myself and left with a desire to come back again and again.

There was something about being pushed to my edge that gave me an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

I enjoy being able to take a yin class one day and jumping right into a down and dirty boot camp class the next. For me the variety of classes not only breaks up the monotony, but also supports my total mind body development. Since joining TruFusion my weight loss has accelerated and I have lost a total of 70lbs, all while gaining lean muscle and flexibility. More importantly my confidence is back, and my outlook on life is extremely positive.

Fast forward one year and Mark just completed 200 hours of ZFlow Transformational Yoga Teacher Training and is on his path to getting a nutrition certification. Mark will help bring his newly gained knowledge and insightfulness to help spread the group fitness model and TruFusion brand throughout the yoga community.

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From physique to mental health, yoga is undoubtedly one of the most beneficial practices in the world. Most Western yoga classes are dominated by women, but more and more men are starting to become interested in getting on the mat.

A lot of men have already jumped on board and have realized the numerous benefits yoga can bring physically, mentally and spiritually. Enhanced strength? Injury prevention? Better sexual performance? Increased calm and focus? Who knew “stretching and breathing” could do all this for you?!

So if you’ve been thinking about starting or continuing with your yoga practice, here are nine awesome and practical reasons men should do more yoga:

1. Yoga improves overall well-being.

Yoga is one of the practices that you should try if you want a major lifestyle change. It’s a great practice to improve your overall well-being as it promotes both physical health and mental toughness.

Little by little, you will experience a shift in your sleeping patterns as well as your natural diet. The best part is that you don’t have to follow a heavy workout/recovery plan to excel at yoga.

2. Yoga makes your body flexible and strong.

Most men hesitate to do yoga because they’re not “flexible enough.” But this is a common misconception for everyone new to yoga.

One of the main physical benefits of yoga is increasing and improving flexibility and strength, so these two are not prerequisites for a yoga practice. You don’t have to be flexible and strong beforehand. It’s the same logic as thinking you have to already be skinny to eat healthy.

So yes, yoga will help improve your balance and flexibility and, of course, strengthen your muscles during the process as well.

3. Yoga helps you lose weight.

If you’ve been lifting weights to trim the fat around your belly, I’m telling you — yoga’s an easier option. Yoga is a practice of mindfulness which easily translates into awareness of eating, sleeping and lifestyle habits.

Yoga is good for your gut health as it helps massage your internal organs, which gives an instant boost in your metabolic rate. It also helps stop unhealthy food and sugar cravings, so you’re not going to be tempted to eat everything on the table.

4. Yoga eases pain and injury.

Body pain not going away? Yoga has you covered. Compared to bodybuilding that could potentially expose you to strenuous activities and increase the risk of injury, yoga only requires light – though often challenging – poses that will more than likely decrease your risk of injury.

Yoga stretches your whole body, gently alleviating pain you may have in your joints. There are also a lot of poses that stretch your back, one of the most common places where men (and women!) experience (chronic) pain.

5. Yoga makes you feel young.

Yoga will make you feel alive and full of vitality inside and out, no matter what your age is. In fact, the elderly are very much encouraged to try yoga because it keeps them healthy and fit.

The people in your yoga class will also help. As they say, if you want to see who you are becoming, look at who your friends are. Surrounding yourself with those who are as passionate as you increases your commitment to the practice and helps you on your yoga journey.

This, of course, doesn’t happen overnight, so you have to commit to a regular routine, even if it’s just for three sessions a week.

6. Yoga relieves stress.

If you’re looking for a way to relax after a long week, yoga is for you! It will help you fight all the negativity around you, and replace those feelings with positive vibes. You’ll be surprised by the improvement in your mood and energy right away.

Yoga is one of the best ways to naturally boost your mental health. It is known to clear and calm your mind, and even fight off mild depression. People who suffer from anxiety will also benefit from its soothing effects.

7. Yoga helps improve your sexual performance.

You heard that right. For a lot of men and women, this becomes even more of a reason to help get their man on the mat. Studies show that men of all ages can enjoy the benefits of yoga when it comes to sexual function. This includes desire, erection, performance, confidence and orgasm.

Yoga’s ability to keep you flexible and lower stress levels can lead to better sexual performance. It helps to regulate your blood flow, which can lead to increased pleasure in bed. So, yes, the more time you spend on the mat, the more quality time you’ll spend in the sack!

8. Yoga boosts bone health.

Yoga has a lot of poses that can boost your bone health. These poses increase your range of motion and overall mobility. Some studies also show that yoga can lower your risk of osteoporosis.

However, it’s still important to note that there are poses that require practice before you can do them perfectly. Beginners should take caution of the risks, and always think of safety first.

Don’t push yourself too hard — it takes time to get to the level of practice and flexibility you desire. A good yoga practice is a marathon, not a sprint, and should be viewed as a way of life.

9. Yoga keeps you challenged.

It’s no secret that men generally love outdoor activities and challenges. Learning new poses and seeing your progress on the mat are likely more than enough to keep you enticed by your practice.

What’s great about yoga is that you can literally do it anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a hike or just staying at home for the weekend — yoga is your best friend.

Hopefully these nine reasons have convinced you to try yoga or keep going with your practice. Yoga is not at all an “only for women” practice and, I promise you, there is nothing sexier than a man who practices. There are also wrestlers, MMA fighters, football players and bodybuilders who swear by yoga!

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For most of my life, I have worried about what other people will think of me, and much of the time without me being conscious of it. How horrifying it feels to even contemplate someone not liking me! Living in the fear of not living up to others’ approval is a heavy and underhanded master. It sucks away your time, your energy, your thoughts and your freedom; it sucks away your soul.

It’s tempting to convince myself that I’m doing everything right when I perceive that I’ve pleased the masses. I’ve had a permanent smile glued to my face for most of my life, and the glue is beginning to fester. Sometimes I see so clearly that I paint a rosy picture of myself so others will like or admire me, and it’s an empty feeling.

The funny thing is, I know that any form of pretending or sugar coating really just puts up walls that keep me from genuinely connecting to others. The fear of not connecting is chasing connection away!

It’s easy to fall back in my comfort zone, to say I am doing great things, but underneath I feel like I’m an impostor, just drumming up the good stuff, and hiding the hard stuff. In his book 40 Days to Personal Revolution,

Baron Baptiste describes a comfort zone as a place we can go to coast in life and not have to face the challenges that arise.

I’m in an amazing yoga teacher training with Zeek Vincent, and it’s gotten me way outside my comfort zone. One day my pride took a big hit, and it took me a few days of digging deep to understand why I was feeling so off. And it was perfect. Pride is what Zeek calls a “holdback” something that keeps you from really shining.

Pride for me is sneaky. It is trying to be the best, not my best, just better than people around me. Ugh. It is staying busy to trick myself that I’m getting stuff done. It is pasting a smile on my face while busily thinking of how I can respond so I will be liked or looked upon with respect. It’s silly, I know, and I’m tired of it! But becoming aware of this habit is so powerful! I see it now. And that is half the battle Baptiste states that “by escaping into a comfort zone, we render ourselves vulnerable to all kinds of sabotaging behavior, addiction, and stagnation.” YES! I see the ways in which I self sabotage.

What I’m really afraid of is if I put my true self out there, that I will have to be responsible finally, that I will have to grow up and be an adult, not just a kid pretending. What if I let others know of my imperfections? Maybe they will connect with me more and love me just the way I am for being honestly me.

But as soon as I think that I’ve finally arrived and I don’t have more growing to do, that is precisely when more growing opportunities show up. I am becoming aware of this pride pattern. I can see it, take a step back, and look at where I steered off course. And if I learn something from any difficulty, then really, I was on the right course anyway.

I see how my weakness of pride is also an incredible teacher, and in that way it is making me stronger, if I am willing to peel away the layers. I see that it doesn’t need to be a huge shift, just a subtle one: a shift in my intent when I share, a shift in my heart behind my words and actions. A shift toward authenticity and honesty. Baptiste states that, “Often, stepping out of our comfort zone has more to do with the simplicity of forgiveness and self-honesty than it does with a grandiose breaking out of some box.” Amen.

The comfort zone of sitting fearfully behind the mask is getting less and less comfortable. To be fair to myself, I have taken the mask off in so many ways in the last few years. I stepped out of the dark “comfort zone” of years of self inflicted unhappiness, out of limited beliefs passed to me from many good people just doing the best they knew how. I am on a healing journey. I have looked a lot of my old stuff straight in the face. I’ve cried, screamed, pleaded, thanked, breathed, and let so, so much go.

My new comfort zone is gradually becoming a space of forgiveness, simplicity and self-honesty. It is a lifelong process, not conquered in a day or a week or a year or a decade. And I am grateful for the journey.

Am I the sum of my shiny experiences? Am I the mask I present to the world? Of course not. But then, who am I really? That can be a frightening question, to step off the cliff and trust that I already have the wings to fly. I am seeing more and more that the greatest form of humility is being honest with myself. Trusting myself.

Who are we really hiding from behind the mask? Ourselves. What are we so afraid of? We are afraid of our greatness, afraid of success, afraid of our light and soul driven power. I’m beginning to see the correlation between being vulnerable to true authentic power. What if my mask came off and I was really just ME? I’m pretty sure I would grow and progress and connect faster and better and with more love than ever before.

I’m grateful for the tools, friends, ideas, and practices that allow me to excavate and uncover my bright light. I am facing my fears, opening up to new ideas and ways of being. I am letting go of so much. The way is not always pretty. And it’s not a race.

“Peeling off the mask, it feels as if I am coming home”

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Peace, Truth and Light, Kristina Blunt Founder and Creative Director of Vegas Gone Yoga Festival


Gathering people in one place at one time allows the yoga community to connect in new ways and over the past two years, VGY! has fulfilled its purpose of connection and collaboration amongst teachers, practitioners, artists and wellness enthusiasts. The 5th annual Vegas Gone Yoga! Festival will be held on October 6,7 and 8th 2017 at the beautiful Springs Preserve, a peaceful 180 acre nature retreat just three miles from downtown Las Vegas. With over 40 workshops and styles of yoga on the schedule, VGY! hopes to accommodate the wide range of practitioners and yogis attending the festival.

In years past, VGY! has housed a small indoor marketplace area. We are expanding the merchant area allowing more businesses in the health and wellness industry an opportunity to take part in all the fun! Vegas Gone Yoga attendees can look forward to wonderful new additions in the form of an interactive art component and more entertainment!

The purpose of VGY! is simple…Connection. As lovers of yoga, every time we step onto the mat we are given the opportunity to explore this theme of connection. For some practitioners, connection is an indescribable feeling when we align the movement of the body to the internal rhythm of the breath. For other yogis, connection is opening one’s self to the mystery of life and fusing to a higher source or Cosmic Consciousness (if you are a believer). Or maybe connection can be a bit more internal, creating space in the mind and heart to embrace the wisdom found within. Further still, connection can simply mean meeting new people, studying with new teachers and gathering with a community of like minded souls. At the center of all yoga practices is the motif of connection.

Kristina Blunt (Founder of VGY!) – I hope to see yogis from all backgrounds and different styles of yoga at VGY! which will offer a variety of classes to choose from. Over two dozen teachers from local studios have been selected to share their knowledge of yoga, therefore finding a style which is appropriate for you should not be a problem. Also, please be sure to visit the merchant area and find some yoga goodies for purchase.

I want to say a huge thank you to all of the VGY! sponsors, teachers, musicians, vendors and volunteers for their support. VGY! is entering its 5th year and we are excited for the milestone and appreciate all of the communities support in supporting our festival. Yoga in the Las Vegas valley has grown over the last 5 years which has contributed to the growth of the festival. Thank you for supporting us and we will see you in October!

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TruFusion is the latest innovation in group fitness offering multiple studios under one roof at an affordable price. With over 30 classes a day in over 65 different styles, TruFusion gyms provide the hottest blend of yoga, kettlebell, Pilates, barre, bootcamp, boxing and cycle classes.

OUR MEMBERS ARE THE HEART & SOUL OF OUR BUSINESS

A group we call the TruTribe. They are what’s special about TruFusion. We have a saying, “your vibe attracts your tribe.” It’s not about cliques. It’s not about conformity. It’s about like-minded people coming together to better themselves. Their goals may differ, but their intentions and commitment are the same.

It’s wonderful what happens when a group of like-minded individuals get together in room to accomplish something important. An energy is created. Passion is contagious. Many in that room will tap into something they may not even know was there. They’re feeding off each other, but in a positive way. It’s not about who can lift more or who looks more fit. Cliques are discouraged. The most experienced aren’t entitled to the front row. In a TruFusion room, they’re helping each other find a better way – each’s own way.

The TruTribe is the heart of each and every franchise. It’s this community that has made this a successful business. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

NO WORKOUT LIKE A TRUFUSION WORKOUT

Just as our name suggests, our kettlebell class isn’t just about kettlebells, our bootcamp class isn’t just about how many calories you burn, and one yoga style doesn’t trump all. It’s not about following a certain philosophy or believing one mode of fitness is the answer to everything. All forms of exercise has its place, and all are effective in their own way. At TruFusion we meld it all together to create something special. That’s why you’ll get a little yoga in bootcamp, or some Trigger Point therapy in a yoga class. It’s about discovering what works, what delivers the best results, and giving it to people in a fun and efficient way. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a yogi or an athlete, once again it’s not about labels. It’s about moving better, looking better and feeling better. Who cares what it’s called as long as it works.

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NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER

“This book will shine new light on your journey, ignite your practice with new power, inspire new possibilities for growth, and infuse your life with the grace and confidence you seek.”
—Baron Baptiste

A little over a decade ago, Baron Baptiste published his seminal book, Journey into Power. The first of its kind, it introduced the world to Baptiste Yoga, his signature method that marries a lifetime of studying with some of the world’s most renowned yoga masters with his uniquely powerful approach to inner and outer transformation. Since then, yoga has steadily moved into the mainstream in our culture, and Baron’s unique contribution has played a key role. As millions of participants incorporate yoga into their daily lives, Baron’s teachings have evolved to bring them even deeper into their own transformative possibilities.

Perfectly Imperfect: The Art and Soul of Yoga Practice takes readers beyond the foundations of the practice by speaking to everything that happens in their bodies and minds after they get into a yoga pose. That is where the true transformation occurs, and where much rich spiritual and emotional growth is available. Readers will learn how to move through their lives with grace and flow, begin again when a situation becomes difficult, “be a yes” for their innermost desires, give up what they must, follow their intuition, and find their truth north.

With his signature blend of boldness, insightfulness, humor, and warmth, Baron offers what is destined to be an instant classic in the yoga and meditation world. With Perfectly Imperfect, he proves once again to be a true yoga master for the modern world.

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This is how it all began…

In 2006, AYP Founder and Executive Director, Paige Elenson, was on a safari with her family in Kenya when she saw some Kenyan acrobats doing handstands in the bush. Although she was told to stay in the jeep, she couldn’t help herself. She got out and showed them that she could stand on her hands too! After the safari, she came back to New York and kept receiving calls from the Kenyan acrobats pleading with her to come back and teach them more. Finally, after lots of thought, she decided to go back. This trip is what changed it all for her. What she did not realize was that she would be staying in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya, where most people live on less than $1 a day. While teaching, she met five teenage girls: Catherine, Anita, Irene, Leah and Hadijah. They called themselves the “Ghetto Girls.”

The Ghetto Girls ranged in age from 13 to 19 and were living in a small room made out of iron sheets with one mattress. Each and every day they traveled over two hours to come to yoga class. They said it made them feel clean, strong and happy. From here, a connection was born with Kenya, and with the amazing young people who were coming to class. After doing some research Paige found out that one of the root challenges that causes such abject poverty is youth unemployment. Over 70% of youth in Kenya are unemployed. She turned this challenge into our opportunity by forming Africa Yoga Project with Baron Baptiste. We now train girls and boys, like the Ghetto Girls, to teach yoga as a avenue to education, empowerment and employment.

The business idea

At 70% youth unemployment, this is no small challenge in Kenya, but we know that in the US over 36 million people practice yoga and spend over $16 million annually on classes, apparel and yoga related products. If we look beyond yoga, the global wellness industry is a $3.7 trillion market so there is huge growth potential in Kenya and across Africa. We are training global wellbeing leaders in and from Africa to lead the growth of the wellbeing industry on this continent. By participating in our program, youth become civic leaders and employable to build the wellbeing value chain.

Our growth since 2007 has been extraordinary. Over 6,000 people participate in more than 300 community yoga classes weekly in 80 locations. More than 200 young people, trained as teachers, are earning a living wage by teaching yoga to people who otherwise would not have the opportunity.

And all over the world, people like you are getting involved, ready to lead the change in their own communities. Join us!

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Even if you never intend to teach a day in your life, here is why you should do your yoga teacher training…

You Will Learn New Things About Your Body

Throughout your yoga teacher training, you will be led through several ‘asana labs’ where you will get to fully dissect different postures – and how your body expresses them.

I learned SO much about my unique physiology in my yoga teacher training that gave me a million tools to take back to my regular practice. I now have a much better understanding of what my body can do, and what adjustments I should make for myself in a practice that will serve my body.

You Will Avoid Injury In All Life’s Activity

With your newfound body awareness, you will be so much better able to move through your life without getting hurt. You will walk more mindfully, run more mindfully, ski more mindfully and so on. You will become better able to predict the abilities of your body and thus will be able to stay strong and limber for life.

You Will Discover Your Strength

In your yoga teacher training, you will be tested; your will, your ability to hold postures, your ability to focus, your ability to speak in front of people will all be strengthened and stretched. You will come out of the other side of your training feeling physically stronger, but also mentally and emotionally stronger too.

You Will Forge New Relationships

There is nothing quite like going through the experience of a yoga teacher training – and those you meet in your training will forever hold a special place in your heart. You will understand each other in a very unique way at the end of your course, and there is a good chance that you will make friendships that last a lifetime.

You Will Deepen Your Asana Practice

This goes without saying – the attention to detail, the longer practice sessions and the newfound awareness of alignment will all help you to take your practice to a whole new level. There is a good chance that you will come out of your training expressing postures you never dreamed you would be able to.

You Will Deepen Your Spiritual Practices

The study of the Yoga Sutras, the chanting, and the meditation practices that will be brought into your life through your training will most likely help you to transform your spiritual practice. These are sacred tools that you can use in your daily life that will help you to connect to yourself in a deeper way.

No matter what your current spiritual practices are, there is a good chance they will be deepened through your training.

You Will Learn New Things About Your Mind

You will start to notice more of your thought patterns in asana, in meditation, in lecture, in presentation, and this information will help you tune into your mental tracts. You will gain a clearer understanding of how your mind currently works, and you will then have the information you need to help you make changes if needed.

Generally, the act of becoming aware is the most powerful tool for transformation.

You Will Connect With Your True Self In A Deeper Way

Through learning how your unique body works, how your unique mind works, and through your deepened spiritual practices, you will most likely walk away with a deeper sense of who you are as an individual. This will help bolster your confidence in every day life, and help you sit easier in your own skin.

You Will Learn The Art Of Expressing Yourself

Through the act of practice teaching, you will learn how you communicate, and how effective this communication is in the way of allowing you to express what you want to express. Through this practice you will be able to develop even better communication skills, allowing you to translate your thoughts and feelings more effectively to others.

You Will Gain Confidence In Your Abilities

You will fall. You will stumble. You will fumble over your words. You will learn the art of picking yourself up, laughing it off and continuing on. You will walk out of your training with a new sense of how much you can do, how far you can go, and how amazing you are—right here in this moment.

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Matthew Sanford teaches with a focus on subtle inner sensations, rather than physical actions. Reverse-engineer your hands-on adjustments.

Like most alignment-based teachers, the majority of my adjustments are aimed at helping my students find more optimal alignment for their physical body in asanas. Yoga Journal LIVE! presenter Matthew Sanford approaches adjustments from a radically different perspective, though. Rather than offering physical corrections of a posture, Sanford believes that the real art of adjusting lies in revealing the pose’s effects on the subtle body.

Inside-Out Adjustments

Sanford, who due to his paralysis cannot make adjustments that require any sort of body leverage, was forced to take another look at adjustments, as well as the asanas. He now use an inside-out rather than the outside-in approach and focuses on shifting awareness from the actions of the muscles, bones, and joints to the subtleties of how consciousness moves and flows in poses.

“I think an adjustment is trying to reveal to you the subtlety in a pose — the way that the prana moves in the pose,” Sanford says. “And then the student has to explore how to sustain that sensation through the actions of the asanas.” Simply put, Sanford is reverse-engineering asana adjustments.

How to Make Inside-Out Adjustments

et’s take Warrior II for example. As a teacher, you could lightly support the underside of each of a student’s upper arms from behind, eliminating a little bit of gravity and bringing some ease into the pose. Then you’d ask the student to find a way to maintain that ease. They may figure out that they need to use their legs more to support the pose, say.

Sanford points out that there’s a big difference in receiving an adjustment and taking an adjustment and that a good student will learn from an adjustment on the spot, paying attention to what is being revealed and where or how they need to work to support the sensation.

The Goal of Good Adjustments

At the end of the day, all good adjustments aim to do the same thing—create freedom, ease, and a sense of space in a pose. Arguing that the “sense of becoming a pose isn’t necessarily achieved through physical action,” Sanford believes adjustments should also reveal the internal direction and flow of subtle awareness through the body in asana.

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“When someone walks out of my class before it begins, I often wonder if it’s because of who I am or what I look like,” shares Chelsea Jackson Roberts, who leads Yoga Journal’s new Inclusivity Training course.

When I was growing up in Dayton, Ohio, in the ’8os, I did a lot of quintessential “American” things: I was a cheerleader, a ballet dancer, a gymnast. And yet I knew that I was not the ideal American woman. She did not look like me; her image in the media—white, super thin—did not reflect me, a black girl with a very athletic build. Our differences were only reinforced by what I experienced in my world every day. Constant remarks from my gymnastics coach, like “Tuck in your butt, Chelsea,” made me feel like I had failed—by no effort on my part other than walking in a black girl’s body. And when I traveled to national cheerleading competitions, the girls who won and appeared on the cover of the competition magazines did not look like me. It was not a surprise, but I also knew early on that it was not OK.

As a teenager trying to meet the standard ideal of a cheerleader’s body type, I developed an eating disorder—one I carried throughout high school and even returned to in early adulthood. In fact, the first time I walked into a yoga class, I was there because I wanted to lose weight. I had recently finished my master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the stress from working as a public-school teacher combined with my unconscious relationship with food caused me to put on pounds. So when I heard that hot yoga would help me lose weight, I said, “Sign me up!”

It was not necessarily love at first sight—I fainted! I’m not really sure what happened, I just woke up with cold towels on my forehead. I can’t believe I ever went back, but I’ve always had this attitude of “I’m going to see this through.”

I dabbled in yoga for a while, still focusing on the physical benefits. Then, in 2004, a very good friend of mine was violently murdered. That’s when I really turned to yoga: I knew something more was happening during the physical practice, and I wanted to use it to get through that tragic loss. I started going deeper into meditation and discovered Kashi Atlanta ashram, where I eventually became a certified yoga teacher.

I began to use yoga as a tool to reveal how much of an effect the loss of my dear friend was having on me, and it taught me how to use this practice as a way to feel in order to heal. Yoga led me to reflect more on how I was treating my body—the ways I accepted and did not accept myself—and it began to transform me. I became more conscious and loving toward myself, and I realized yoga is not about weight loss at all. I now use yoga to uncover and understand the layers of experiences I encounter in the world, including those that continue to make me feel like I don’t belong.

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