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Townie Profiles – Helen

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By Tracy Billows | owner, teacher

In the last 5 years, we’ve really gotten to see Helen shine and thrive in her yoga practice. Since 2015, Helen has logged over 850 hours of yoga, that’s 829 classes to date! Helen embraces workshops and faces challenges inspiring us to keep doing what we do.

We’re excited so say that Helen has now enrolled in our Fall Yoga Teacher Training. Soon she’ll be sharing all that she’s learned with the world – and what an incredible gift that is.

We asked Helen to open up and share a bit about her yoga journey with us. Helen shows us just how brave and incredible she is by opening up about her struggle with an eating disorder.

The challenges that she has faced head on and worked to overcome are an inspiration to us all.

Why did you start doing yoga?

Admittedly, I started to explore yoga out of a compulsive desire to manage an illusive sense of control over my body. I had been struggling with an eating disorder, a lethal addiction, that took over 7 years of my life. I showed up to the mat probably far too often; I abused the sacred intention of the yoga practice and minimized it to an obsessive procedure.

I had to physically refrain from yoga for a period of time in order to come back fully – not just with my body, but also with a curious mind and compassionate spirit. Quite honestly, I almost feel like this is a new start of my yoga journey. 

What’s a yoga accomplishment you’re most proud of?

Definitely learning how to approach the practice with humility and learning how to listen to the needs of my body. It took me years and I am humbled by the extent to which I still today forget that listeningis a part of the practice. I reclaim gratitude for my body when I witness its strength as I hold an arm balance, and equally I reclaim gratitude for my body when I allow it to rest in child’s pose. 

What does the word Townie mean to you?

I’ve been at the studio for almost 5 years and I still see new faces today. I think that speaks to the inclusive nature of Yogatown – there’s an authentic effort to ensure that no one is excluded, there’s an offering for each person (through the Energy Exchange [Program], even income is not a barrier). Behind the word “Townie” is a human being feeling connected to a greater community. 

Why Yogatown?

I have made my way through a handful of studios across the city, yet Yogatown still has my heart. Maybe it’s the sense of belonging that the staff cultivates when they greet me by name. Or perhaps it’s the timing and history; I have gone through significant transitions both personally and professionally since Yogatown came into my life. Or perhaps it’s my love-hate relationship with Vanessa’s Core Flow class. 

Or maybe, it’s all of the above. 

We believe that yoga is about so much more than being bendy. What does yoga mean to you? Has it changed since you started practicing?

I believe that suffering is not a unique experience to humanity, but our response to it certainly can be. It’s amazing how a 60-minute yoga class can take you through a physical/mental journey that can be awfully familiar to the suffering we experience in our life. How we react and respond to obstacles can be found through the rhythm of our breath (or lack of). There is a physical and mental resiliency that is built when you allow yourself to breathe through difficult poses that demands balance, focus and strength. Yoga is still changing for me each time I practice. I am constantly relearning what I thought I knew so confidently. It’s an ever-evolving practice, I can never learn enough.

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