Special Guest Sunday: Melissa Petrella

From time to time, we like to turn this blog over to the fabulous instructresses who bring their sparkle and energy to class each and every day. You may have taken Pound or Poise Stretch & Tone with Melissa - if you haven't, you're missing out! Melissa is helping to raise money for Yoga Reaches Out as a part of Team Studio Poise, and today she's sharing her personal connection to yoga and how it changed her life. 

Have you ever had something that kind of changed you?  A book that, once you closed the back cover, you felt a lightness in your heart?  Or maybe a movie that, when you walked out of the theater, left you reeling?  Or even a conversation with a friend that filled your soul with so much joy, you knew in your deepest depths nothing would ever compare? 

We’ve all experienced something like this before.

For me, that’s yoga.  Every time I step on my mat.

I found yoga in 2004 when I was a junior in college.  Admittedly, I hated my few first classes.  Imagine a bunch of college kids packed like sardines into a dance studio, more than half of whom weren’t there for any serious reason.  I left that first class feeling awful.  Sore, broken.  But I kept going, thinking maybe it would get better.  It didn’t.  A couple of weeks later they stopped offering it, after said sardines dwindled down to single digit numbers.  I went back to my cheerleading and drinking and was happy as a clam.

After I graduated and moved home, I looked at myself one day, really unhappy with my reflection.  Aside from the excess weight, my soul needed something else.  Not long after that, a family friend invited me to take one of her yoga classes.  I hesitated after reliving those horrid classes a year prior, but decided to give it another go. That class, my friends, was the defining moment.  It occurred to me then that my competitive nature in college forced me into uncomfortable places with my body that my body simply didn’t agree with.  When I took the time to get out of my head and just be… well, if you’ve never experienced that feeling, I highly recommend it.  

Fast forward to 2015 and yoga is still just as much a part of my life now as it was then, even as a mom, ESPECIALLY as a mom, I make the time to practice.  There have been three very specific moments during my years practicing that will always hold the highest place in my soul.  The first was during my teacher training when, at the end of our lesson, we all participated in a “kirtan”, a call-and-response musical chant of a particular mantra.  Believe me when I say, the entire room positively BUZZED with energy.  It was incredibly moving and I’ve never felt anything quite like it before then, or since for that matter.  The second was during one home practice, when I laid down for savasana.  It could’ve been the music, but as I let my body sink deeper into relaxation, the tears came, and didn’t stop.  I lay on my mat and just sobbed.  It wasn’t a sad cry, it was just… emotion.  That’s all I can say.

And the third moment?  The third moment was Yoga Reaches Out.  When YRO came to town in 2013, I knew I had to be a part of such an amazing event.  There’s just nothing like thousands of yogis coming together to practice for a cause.  On April 27, myself, Ali Oxton, and few others will be representing Studio Poise at Yoga Reaches Out again.  Did you know you can be a part of this, too?  You don’t have to be an Instructress to join the Studio Poise team.  If you just want a day filled with amazing experiences, friends, and yoga, JOIN US!  If you don’t think it’s quite your speed, but still want to help, you can donate online to help us reach the amount needed to participate.  Either way, visit our Studio Poise team page where you can choose to donate or join.  I hope SPnation will be a part of this event with us, one way or another!  

Don't forget - you can also support Team Studio Poise in their fundraising efforts by joining our March Madness Challenge! Thanks, Melissa, for sharing your story - and for helping to change lives through Yoga Reaches Out!