The beginning of my Yoga Journey

img_1190“Wow, that’s pretty amazing,” I told my boyfriend Jake of 5 years, after he had showed me some pictures of his friends significant others getting into some crazy yoga poses. At the time I thought they were impossible and that I had to be some sort of gymnast to be able to preform these astounding poses. Jake, at the time was trying to include me on his everyday adventures to visit his friends, and thought I might be more interested in going if I had female friends to interact with. Although it seemed at times that I didn’t have the slightest interest in yoga, my curiosity got the best of me after about of month of Jake trying to entice me on this journey. Jake knew me better than I knew myself. He knew I was falling into some sort of depression, and that I needed something to help me focus and pull me out of this rut that I had seemed to fall into. I had spent a majority of my twenties at the gym for active exercise as well as competing in triathlons, and bike runs by the time I reached my 30’s. Although I dedicated quite some time to these events, I wasn’t happy inside and I hadn’t been in a long time.

Before I began this journey, I was living a life of going through the motions without any thought or care. I was raised to believe that in order to be successful, I needed a decent husband, a good career and a house. Even when I knew deep down that none of these things would make me content, I pursued them anyways. I pursued them because I wanted to be happy so bad, and I wanted more out of life. While trying to be everything I thought was expected of me, I had found yoga sometime in the beginning of last year(2016) through Jake. I was reluctant to start my own practice and had to see with my own eyes before I could be astonished enough start down a new path. I had spent a majority of my life battling depression and anxiety and didn’t see any end in sight.

At age 34(In 2016), I started making small life changes although I wasn’t aware at the time of the transition, or why i was starting to feel different emotionally about myself. The changes began when I started seeking friendships with other yogis. I have social anxiety so this was a major step for me. I always had one good friend in my life that I could always count on, but to reach out to others beyond that was sort of exhausting to me. I thought it had something to do with my anxiety. It was hard at first making new friends and at times I felt like I wanted to give up. Why was I doing this to myself? Did I need friends to practice yoga? Certainly not, but my heart spoke louder than my mind and I continued to reach out to others. Things started to change immensely about a month or so into my home yoga practice. Only I didn’t just practice at home. I had become so determined in my yoga, that I would spend somewhere between 4-8 hours a day practicing, all while working full time at a local hospital and caring for two children. If this seems a bit extreme, its because it was. I was practicing with every spare moment I had. This included during my lunch breaks at work, before the kids woke up in the morning and after the kids would go to sleep.

Although most people wouldn’t know where to begin when starting a home practice, I jumped straight into inversions and arm balances. I had no idea what I was doing. I was simply practicing based off tips I had received from my new friends and you tube videos from the internet. I also went to Instagram for most of my inspiration. Here there were thousands upon thousands of yogis willing to share their life journey with everyone while giving out advice and tips for an approach to a yoga pose that would seem almost impossible at first sight. How did I never come across yoga before? I had asked myself this repetitively. I thought yoga was this amazing gift that everyone should have access to. By the second month of my practice i was already getting comfortable with all inversions. My determination wouldn’t let me slow down. I felt so empowered yet I still didn’t know why. I didn’t understand what was happening to me or my mentality.
It wasn’t til I had reached about my fourth or fifth month into yoga did I start to incorporate basic yoga flows into my practice after joining a monthly local yoga gathering near my community. Before I knew it I was consumed. I started incorporating Acro Yoga while teaching my youngest son age 8 how to practice.
My outlook on life had started to change. I no longer felt like I was going through the motions anymore. I looked forward to everyday as an opportunity to try new things and connect with myself while learning a new talent. I hadn’t yet discovered meditation or even knew what a real Savasana felt like until I started taking a few yoga classes whenever my pocket book would allow me. Raising two children as a single mother wasn’t easy and didn’t allow much room for extra spending on activities for fun. When I finally started to practice meditation, I was blown away! I had always suspected as a younger child that people who practiced this activity were kind of strange because I didn’t know the benefits or the point. I was also raised as a church goer and led to believe that this sort of practice might open the doors to some unwanted spirits or demons. This is still a common belief among some religious practitioners of various religions.

I am almost a year and half into my yoga practice now. So many things in my life have changed but for the better. I no longer have a poor relationship with food which was a huge game changer for me. I was always so tired and felt drained which I had thought to originate only from the depression but have recently discovered that my poor food choices weren’t helping give me the energy needed to sustain all of my daily activities of living. I also no longer feel the pressure to live to what I considered society standards of buying a home and getting married although I do already have a family of my own. In fact my plans have completely changed! I am currently in school learning to be a yoga teacher. Upon graduation I will receive my 200 hour Yoga Teacher certification. I intend to achieve my 500 hour certification upon completion of the previous course. I’d like to travel a bit when my children become older and maybe connect with other yogis around the world while getting hands on instruction from some incredible people I have met though social media while on this journey! I want to inspire others the way I too was inspired. I still wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have access to yoga whether they can afford it or not. I intend to pay it forward by taking others under my wing and investing in them the way others had in me when I first discovered yoga.
What inspired your practice?

Through The Looking Glass: The Dana Falsetti Protest

Although there is still more to this story than I’ll ever be able to talk about in this article, I am hoping that by coming out to speak about the recent dispute between Alo Yoga and Kino MacGregor, I can hopefully help the yoga community come to an understanding of the facts surrounding the recent letter written by Kino MacGregor on her blog. This article is not intended to persecute either parties involved, but to simply provide a timeline of events and come forth to speak about my involvement with Kino MacGregor, Dana Falsetti, Cody App and Alo Yoga, as well as the events that took place thereafter (Satya). I never had any contact with Kino prior to the lawsuit between Alo Yoga, and Cody App against Dana Falsetti. She has always been an inspiration to me through her Ashtanga practice as a devout teacher of more than 20 years, along with a generally solid reputation.

Kino MacGregor, in her letter that was written on the 31st of May, spoke of a online group that she had helped create in order to keep the pressure on Alo Yoga, to drop their lawsuit against Dana Falsetti, following the release of her first article with Elephant Journal. I was a participant in this group. Kino states in the letter that this group bullied Alo Yoga ambassadors, when that simply wasn’t true. Although we participated in light gossip about the ambassadors, none of the participants in the group ever contacted the ambassadors to leave any harmful or threatening remarks nor did they direct anyone else to. Those interacting with me on Instagram, or those who have spoken with me outside of social media, know that I have always had personal beliefs about Alo Yoga’s business conduct. I have even from time to time spoken out, but for the most part I have kept my opinion private. There are a couple of Alo Yoga ambassadors that I would speak about from time to time and still do in my stories, but most of it was not in regard to their ambassadorship with Alo Yoga. I spoke out against these ambassadors long before I had ever heard of the lawsuits against Dana. I had felt that a couple of the ambassadors had questionable integrity due to my personal opinion that they give unprofessional advice to new yoga practioners, their stance on a lot of sensitive issues, and  their lack of transparency about their partnership with Alo Yoga.  When Kino announced the lawsuit against Dana Falsetti publicly, I took it upon myself to begin my research into Alo Yoga and their ambassadors. I wrote an article on the 17th day of March about Alo Yoga and my opinion of their business practices hoping to not only help Dana gain support, but to also hold Alo Yoga accountable for something I believed to be deceiving with their advertising and marketing practices. Upon publishing my first article about Alo Yoga on my personal blog, and tagging Kino MacGregor and Dana Falsetti in my private stories, I received a private message from Kino to my user account on Instagram (@InversionJunkie), thanking me for my support for Dana and bringing light to the lawsuits against her. We had chatted back and forth multiple times for nearly a week sharing our support for Dana. Sometime between the 25th and 26th of March, Kino suggested we begin a support group for Dana created in a mobile app called “What’s App.” She asked me to round up anyone I thought might want to help and support Dana.  Not only did I create the group, I randomly selected a handful of supporters of Dana’s from instagram to come together and communicate with Kino and myself. Dana had no involvement with this group nor was she even aware of it. Dana and I never communicated beyond me sending her my words of encouragement to stay strong.

Our conversations between Kino, a few others and myself in “What’s App” occurred daily, and we would talk about what we could do to support Dana. Kino would ask us from time to time if we had posted Dana’s Go Fund Me or the petition in support of Dana to our accounts or stories. We would try to collaborate our efforts in finding any way we could to show our support for Dana. I even wrote a total of 4 articles containing information surrounding the lawsuits against Dana. I was more aggressive in my protest than were the others of the group. There were a lot of people who were blocked, had their comments deleted, and were even called bullies just for asking certain ambassadors for transparency, even when written in respectful dialogue. I expressed my negative opinions about a few of the ambassadors actions and responses during the protest in my stories on Instagram, but I never bullied, threatened, or asked anyone to bully or threaten the ambassadors. I, myself, never left any threatening, or bullying remarks on their Instagram pages nor did I direct anyone else too. The other members of the “What’s App” group hardly spoke about the ambassadors with the exception of some meaningless gossip. I do agree that while the statements made in the “What’s App” group weren’t intended to directly hurt the ambassadors, they were still hurtful. Again my efforts in the protest came from a good heart, but I do agree they were disruptive to the yoga community. I did what I felt I needed to do at the time to help raise awareness to the fact that Dana was being sued by two companies (who had recently merged together), in two different states. Kino didn’t speak much in the beginning of the lawsuits about her relationship with Cody App or Alo Yoga. A lot of it didn’t come out til later.

During the protest against the lawsuits that Alo Yoga and Cody App had filed against Dana, Kino had lead the yoga community to believe that Alo Yoga was also suing multiple yoga teachers. She then states in her recent letter on her blog that the rumor she began wasn’t true. While the alleged rumor about multiple lawsuits against other yoga teachers wasn’t true, Kino and myself did in fact both receive a cease and desist (threat to sue). I also received a subpoena in the Dana Falsetti lawsuits even though I was no way previously involved in Dana’s case.

After an alleged settlement between Dana, Cody App, and Alo Yoga had been reached, I thought that would be the end to our What’s App group I had been participating in with Kino. That’s not what happened. Kino insisted she wasn’t “free” and that there were still legal proceedings taking place between Cody App and herself. The members of the “What’s App” group believed that Cody App was taking action against Kino. I do not know if in fact, Cody App took any action against Kino such as another threat of lawsuit or not, and we will never know. Participants of the group would even ask Kino from time to time whether or not Cody App or Alo Yoga were suing her, for which she replied “I can’t talk about it.” I began to see more posts from Instagram users asking Cody app to “Free” Kino. At this point, I received my very first phone call from Kino informing me that she was currently “$30,000 dollars in debt” to her lawyer and they weren’t willing to work with her any further til she paid her debt. Kino kept inciting they were holding her legally somehow. She stated that her friend was kind enough to begin a Go Fund Me account for her legal debts. I didn’t take any part of Kino’s dispute against Cody App, because at that point I had suspected that there was more to the story that I was not completely aware of. Although Kino has always made it apparent she was also trying to get her content back from Cody App from the beginning, I had to separate myself from that equation for which I was not well informed of. I stand behind Kino one hundred percent and still respect her as an amazing and sincere yoga teacher I have always known her to be. I do believe that Kino’s article was in exaggeration of the events that actually took place during the protest against Alo and Cody.

As I stated earlier, I am not here to persecute either Alo Yoga, Cody App or Kino MacGregor. I am only writing this article to state the facts and my involvement in the deputes between all parties involved. There are a lot of things and instances that happened before, during and after the lawsuit that could have been handled better by both parties. While I understand Kino has always been upfront about wanting her content back, there were instances and issues that Kino was not completely upfront about. Kino never informed the others of certain details like the how Alo Yoga offered to buy OmStars, as she stated in the article published by Yoga Journal. That didn’t come til after the lawsuits had been settled. Although, Kino never sold OmStars to Alo. For my involvement in all of this, I am truely sorry for any devide in the yoga community I have created as a result of my protest during the dispute between all the parties involved. I may have reacted hastily at times. I learned a lot and hope to grow from this experience.

I have included the screen shots that I personally had left of the group chat before it was deleted. I have crossed out the names to protect any individuals involved in the support group with the exception of Kino and myself.