The seed to my yoga journey was planted 18 years ago, my ex-boyfriend’s Mother (A Beautiful, Strong Souled Woman), took me to her yoga class one night as I was visiting her in Washington Heights.
I was open to try it because I saw the difference it was making in her spirit and body. She was a severe arthritis sufferer, if you know anyone with such, you know that it seems like they live their life mostly in pain, than without it. Yoga changed this for her, She was in her 50’s at the time, and she was preforming headstand to top it all off. It made me so happy to see her feeling better and happier that it lit an interest in me to try… So I did, with her at her local Chiropractors office. I most certainly did not get all the benefits of the practice that particular night, but I did leave there with a calm I had never known before…That feeling left a mark in my mind and heart that Yoga was the right thing I needed to do for myself. And after all, I did a lot of Yoga poses organically as a child. (I would watch T.V in lotus, Wheel was a favorite for me to feel upside-down for awhile..Even shoulder stand was a popular play pose for me…)
Sadly, at this time, Yoga wasn’t accessible to me. Studio locations and finances of a single working mother were two components that held me from being able to start my Yoga journey. Keep in mind, the internet wasn’t what it is now either. Still, I took a class here and there and always felt great afterwords. It was clear, I was in love. As time went on my body & mind would actually crave it. Years went on like this, somewhere in this I had gained much weight, 55 pounds at least. I became very unhappy with myself and kinda got stuck there for a bit. One day my son took a picture of me, when I got the pictures developed (remember that process? lol), I went through the photos to see how his shot came out, what I saw scared me, I had no smile. That was not me, I knew then how unhappy I truly was and that I needed to change it. So, shortly after, I went on weight watchers. I committed to changing my eating habits before I would start an exercise regime. It worked, it took me roughly 6 months to get to my goal weight, I lost a total of 64 pounds. Ask me to show you pictures, I carry them proudly on my phone.
With the new me, I was now committed to an active life style. I jogged, rollerbladed, walked and of course I did Yoga weekly. Then sometime passed and I lost my job in brokerage/the stock market. Scary times as a single mother, still I had to keep active so my thoughts wouldn’t get the best of me. Having the free time in between job searching and finding the oldest Yoga school in NYC that offered discounted classes to the unemployed, the depth of my Yoga journey began (That school was Integral, my heart will always be there and in Hatha)! I was now taking between 6-12 yoga classes a week. Not only was I in great bodily shape, but, my mind and spirit/faith were in their best places. I considered becoming a teacher of Yoga at this time, but, I needed to find work before the program would even start as well as the cost of the program being to costly…So becoming a Yoga teacher became a distant thought, a “maybe one day I will do” or “in an ideal world I’d be”…
Life took many turns as I continued to raise my son.. I became an independent contractor, which led me to become a work-a-holic. I made no time for me, not even for my Yoga. I even put back 30 pounds of the 64 total pounds that I lost on weight watchers 8 years ago. Two years went by of my being a Sales Rep for the High-End gift buying industry, not feeling happy with not being able to fit into my clothes, I went back on weight watchers. You guessed it! I lost the weight, 27 of the 30 pounds anyway. Sadly before a year was up, I put those 30 pounds back on. I realized then, that not being active will just never work for me.. I also realized that being a work-a-holic to someone else’s dream wasn’t going to work for me either, so I left that job. In my resting from burn-out, a Sister in Spirit that I was pushing yoga on years before had grown her own love of Yoga and started looking into schools and prices for Yoga Teacher certifications. She found Sonic Yoga, and we began our teacher training February 2013 and graduated May 2013.
I began to teach a year after being certified and after teaching for a year, I took my next Yoga certification for Pre-Natal & Post-Natal Yoga. When I graduated from my first 200 hours, I promised myself that I would take my Prenatal certification, I am very proud to say I am Prenatal Certified. I went to what I believe to be the Best school in NYC with the best teacher Debra Flashenberg at the Prenatal Yoga Center. If you are a yoga teacher or trainee and can see yourself in the Prenatal Yoga world, I HIGHLY recommend the Prenatal Yoga Center. Please even visit/attend class here if the upper west side is accessible to you as a pregnant woman! Debra not only gave me a wealth of information for my Prenatal Teaching, she took my Vinyasa teach training to the next level. I will always be grateful to her.
And, now, I mark today… I live in Bay Ridge, a nostalgic place for me, as my family is from here. I am back to leading that necessary active lifestyle. Yoga everyday, walk to wherever I can and workout at least 3 times a week (this may include, Pilates, Weight Training, Bootcamp, Barre, Boxing: yes boxing, lol & Outside Yoga classes).
If you didn’t know already, I LOVE Yoga and even more so I love teaching it. It is Always my intention to provide you with as much instruction as you need to encompass the pose for your self.
I Love to see people happy and in their best mental place. I love seeing my students leave class glowing and happy. I guess for these reasons its selfish, but, I also believe that Yoga is gift that should be given to all! My heart is filled being able to gift people the practice of Yoga.
If you have reached this far in my story, I honor you :-). I can’t say I personally would read a long story like such, but, I give you my story in case we share something in common… At the end of my day, I feel my best, when my story inspires someone else’s. Whether its a single mom with dream, an over weight human that maybe rebounding from a successful weight loss or needing to lose weight, someone who just lost her good paying job in the financial world or a teenage mom that doesn’t yet see or realize her potential (Yes, that was me 26 years ago). The exchange of ones story, the feeling of respect for that persons path and the ability to inspire are all feelings of Namaste’ to me. I hope we have already met and now you know more about me, if that is not the case thats great too, I look forward to meeting somewhere in time, maybe in one of my yoga classes.
Erica Ginger Stavrou