by Gina Lee
I found myself on the yogic path in a non-traditional way (kind of a pattern for me)…it was through a corporate yoga program where we cleared out a conference room every week for an hour of practice. I was 24, 40 lbs. overweight, stressed out and tight in every way a person could be. My first class was a disaster (at least in my eyes at the time). I was sweating like an animal, I had no flexibility to speak of and the people around me moved with a grace and ease that I found both enviable and irritating. Something told me that if I was patient and persistent that I could achieve even a piece of what the others in class had cultivated within themselves. I kept at my once a week practice for 2 years and had my second child during that time too, yoga helped keep me sane and strong through all of the ups and downs that life kept handing me.
After I went back to work after the birth of my second child I realized that I just couldn’t juggle the commute into Manhattan with all of the other demands of my life. As a woman I struggled with the transition of quitting my successful graphic design job to staying home to raise my children. I realized I needed to work outside of my home to feel balanced but also quickly discovered the challenges of trying to seriously teach or practice yoga with young children as most yoga studios do not have babysitting services. I was also hungry for a community of like-minded people who were on the same path of self awareness and healing that yoga promoted. These needs and the challenges I faced were what lead directly to my vision for Bearfoot Yoga and Wellness Center.
I received my foundation 200 hour training from the Integral Yoga Institute in New York City in 2007. Integral is a firmly established non-profit yoga school founded by Swami Satchidananda over 40 years ago and is a Hatha based system of classical yoga complete with all of the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga including asana (postures), chanting, pranayama (breathing practices), meditation and extended guided deep relaxation in Savasana (corpse pose) at the end of class. Always on a quest for deepening my knowledge to share with my students while refining my own practice, I have also taken trainings and immersions with many different prominent teachers through the years in a variety of styles and have recently taken my 500 hour level training with Dharma Mittra in New York City. Dharma Mittra is known in the yoga community as the teacher’s teacher and is also very classical in terms of a yoga lineage. Check out the links to both schools below and take some classes from the source if you are ever in NYC, you will not regret it!
In the past 5 years I have been teaching yoga and workshops locally at Embrace Yoga Center in East Islip, East Islip Fitness, Sayville Hot Yoga and Rocky Point Hot Yoga. All filled with beautiful people (inside and out), talented teachers and supportive staff, we will continue to have positive relationships with them so we may all benfit from the healing art of yoga while building our extended community to fill the needs of everyone.
Gathering all of this momentum, teaching experience and diverse student body, Bearfoot Yoga and Wellness Center will be a place for people to come for a large variety of yoga classes and other mind/body/movement style offerings ranging from spiritually meditative to more athletic Power Yoga to Pre and Post-natal classes and by next year we will be offering our first 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training program so we can spread the love and peace of yoga even more.
There will be a babysitting room available with service offered for most classes so that parents don’t have to sacrifice their sanity or extra money for sitters in order to practice yoga regularly. They will the peace of mind to know that their kids are being nurtured in a positive violence-free environment (AKA, no violent video games, movies, toy guns/weapons) while getting their much needed time to work on themselves in the room next door.
We will also have organic, healthy snacks and meal offerings along with juices and organic snacks for the kids with a small area for seating so that our students can connect with each other after practice and for the parents to be able to eat in peace and chat while their kids are still in the babysitting room.
We also plan on hosting a family friendly monthly gathering for a community pot luck of ideas, tasty food and music, dancing and play time. After all, even grown-ups need to play!
We are very much looking forward to creating an army of peaceful warriors where we can grow, learn and support each other on our paths to a healthier, happier and more peaceful world. We also believe that all spiritual paths lead to the same ocean of peace, we honor all walks of faith to practice as one interconnected community filled with mutual respect for ideas and personal philosophy. In the words of Swami Satchidananda, “Truth is one, paths are many.”