Trella Dolgin (our founder), Courtney, and Omni Kitts Ferrara (owner of Yoga Montclair)
Meet Courtney. She has chosen to practice at Yoga Montclair for her unlimited year. Now in her own words, her journey to the yoga practice:
I’ve spent most of my life constantly comparing myself to others, and never feeling like I measured up. I still remember with extreme detail, as if I‘m watching a movie in my mind, the first time someone called me fat. It was in the first grade, by a 5th grade boy, and it most certainly was not the last time nor the last person I heard it from. I was aware from that day on that I was “the fat kid,” it’s hard to ignore the fact that year after year, you’re the largest kid in your grade.
That stigma followed me through my entire adolescence, and it made me an extremely insecure person, and my own worst enemy. I didn’t exactly grow up in the most nurturing of environments either, surrounded by a “tough love” kind of principle that wasn’t the kind of love that I needed in my life. Difficult as it is to admit, I didn’t have a happy childhood. I never experienced the unconditional love that most adolescents need to help shape them into the best version of themselves. There was always a void, and in my later teen years I convinced myself that being “Skinny” would solve all of my problems. I was convinced that if I were thin, everything would be easier for me, that somehow it would make my parents, and myself, love me more- the two places I where I always longed for acceptance.
It was February of my freshman year of college, when I realized I needed to see someone. I was now a size 10 instead of 18, but I wasn’t any happier; in fact, I was in the worst emotional state of my life. About a month into therapy, my therapist suggested yoga to me. She told me that it was the type of exercise that “works the soul as much as it does the body.” The gym I worked at offered several yoga classes, but only one of them ran while I wasn’t working. From the first time I unrolled my mat, something changed in me. I started looking forward to my Wednesday night yoga class the way most people look forward to their Saturday night, because for 75 minutes of my week, I felt strong- emotionally and physically, and content with myself, until those 75 minutes started to leak into the non-practicing minutes of my day and started to shape me into a new person. Yoga made me strong where I needed to be strong the most- within my own soul and being.
With the help of yoga and therapy, I was able to get a grasp on my physical insecurities and develop a healthy relationship with food, I still had a lot to deal with at home. While I’m still not ready or comfortable with discussing my home life in detail, (and I’m ok with that, all things in time!) Bluntly- I was living in an environment that regularly challenged my will to believe I could ever have a happy life. In April of last year, I was spiraling back to into the depression I had been fighting off for so many years, and the only way to defeat it was to leave the place that was the root of it- my home. I packed all of my necessities (yoga mat in toe), and moved in with two of the most amazing souls I have ever encountered. They allowed me to live with them for free until I got my feet on the ground. With no car, $350 to my name, and no way to pay for my upcoming senior year of college, I pulled every ounce of inner strength that everyone now surrounding me believed I had, and made it work.
A year later, I’m living on my own, I bought myself a car, and found a way to pay for my senior year of college. With all of the expenses of living constantly piling up, yoga has simply just not been in my budget. While the sun salutation every morning and youtube lead yoga practice held me over, it just wasn’t the same as practicing at a studio, with a community, with an instructor who cared about you. I needed more than the physical aspect of yoga. I needed to go to class and have my instructor say something that made me get that feeling of, “How did they know that’s exactly what I needed to hear?!”
Now, thanks to Yogisheart and my friend Katherine who suggested I apply for a scholarship, I am now having those “ah-ha!” moments of clarity that only yoga has ever given me on a regular basis. I am one week into my scholarship, and my practice has already begun to deepen my respect for my body, my soul, and my existence as a human being. I know that with my scholarship from Yogisheart, I am most certainly beginning a new chapter of my life. One I am ecstatic to start writing.