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Townie Profiles – Melissa

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By Tracy Billows | owner, teacher

Welcome to another edition of Townie Tuesday! 

This week we’d like to introduce you to Melissa. Since joining Yogatown in 2016 Melissa has completed hundreds of classes and truly transformed. 

Melissa opened up to us about her yoga journey:

◆ Why did you start doing yoga?

I started doing yoga in my mid 20’s (early 1990’s) and I instantly loved it. I remember leaving my first class and thinking: “I feel taller!” 

I had a somewhat regular practice then, but yoga was nowhere near the phenomenon that it is today, so it took a bit more effort to get to classes than it does now. The stresses of work and life caught up with me, and I just stopped doing it.

I steadily gained weight during my thirties, and I lived a happy but unhealthy life. In December 2015, facing a health scare related to my weight, I decided to get healthy.  I started a new healthy eating plan, and joined a gym. I really thought I would just do cardio and weights at the gym, as part of my weight loss efforts. I arrived at the gym one day and noticed that a “foundation yoga” class was just about to start, and I thought: “Why not?”

So, I went in the studio!

I was a very unhealthy size 24 and I was so overweight and out of shape that I could not even sit down on the yoga mat without a lot of discomfort. I could not sit on my heels, crossing my legs was uncomfortable, and I was horrified by even the thought of downward facing dog!  I think I decided to stay in the class mostly because I had no idea how I was going to get back up off the floor! So, I stayed, did the class, and was lucky enough that the instructor was amazing, and the class was truly foundational, with lots of modifications and instructions. I loved it, and felt a fluidity in my body at the end of the class that I remembered, and loved.

So I just kept on going; at the beginning, I just went to the foundational classes and the classes for people with mobility issues, but as the weight came off, I got braver, and started the other classes too. After a few months, I was a regular – the teachers knew my name and my story, and were just so encouraging. I started doing flow/vinyasa classes, and found that this type of yoga, like nothing else I had ever experienced, got me out of my head, away from the never-ending to do list in my brain, away from my tendency to ruminate and overthink.  I felt a delicious lightness in my body, and my mind.

The gym I was going to only had two vinyasa classes a week, and I started to think that my practice had evolved beyond what a gym could offer. So, in the summer of 2016, I joined Yogatown’s introductory program, and I immediately knew that I would not do yoga at a gym again. Since then, I have been a regular at Yogatown, and I am there 5 or 6 times a week. I cannot imagine my life without it! I am now a fit and healthy size 10 (see the attached picture) and yoga has been the centre of my path to wellness.

◆ What’s the yoga accomplishment you’re most proud of?

Without a doubt, it is that I started doing it when I could barely sit down on my mat, and I kept with it to the point that I am at now – a dedicated yogi, who cannot imagine her life without it.

◆ Why Yogatown?

It was the location of the studios that drove my initial decision – I live in Stittsville and was working downtown at the time that I joined – so I could do classes downtown after work or in Stittsville at night and on the weekends.  However, the reason that I stay is the quality of instruction and the amazing community of yogis.

◆ What does the word Townie mean to you?

That I am part of a community of like minded people 😊

◆ We believe that yoga is about so much more than being bendy. What does yoga mean to you and how has it changed since you started?

I started yoga again with this intent: lose weight/get healthy. Now that I have done that, I do yoga for my mind way more than for my body. There is nothing that gets me out of my head like yoga, and it has become the most important part of my healthy lifestyle.

◆ Anything else you’d like to add?

I always see new yogis in the studio, people who may be feeling discouraged about the immensity of the changes they need to make in their lives, just as I was a few years ago.  I always want to approach them and tell them to “keep it up”, keep practicing, keep coming back. That decision will pay off in ways that they could never understand until it happens. I never actually do approach them, as I am far too introverted to do that, but I hope that anyone who is feeling discouraged will see the impact that yoga has had on my life, and realize that it could happen for them too.

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