In June 2014, I stepped into my first yoga class at Synergy Hot Yoga in Fair Haven, NJ. Tristan’s mom had invited me and I was very interested in yoga, but I only had a home practice at the time. I was terrified because I hated gyms, group fitness environments, and I also had no idea what hot yoga was, but it sounded like it was going to be hot and being hot was also on the list of things I hated.
My first day at Synergy was also Eleonora Zampatti’s first day. She was to sub the Tuesday night class for the rest of the summer.
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Today is day #6 of #AloAroundTheWorld After growing up in Italy, when I first came to the United States, things were not easy. Living in NYC was tough, I was far away from my family, struggling on a daily basis, living in a city that can take the breath out of you. I ended up in a very abusive relationship. One day, after a bad fight with my ex, I walked past a yoga studio and wandered in to take a hot yoga class. I just needed something to do. Needed to run away from him and our reality. I had never even heard of hot yoga, but what the heat combined with the postures did to me that day was incredible. When I came out, my mind and body were both totally drained. But I felt like I had created a space inside of myself that I hadn't even known existed. I felt like finally, after many years spent avoiding my self, for once I had the chance to listen. Truly listen to my broken heart. And that was the beginning of everything. Today I am lucky enough to teach yoga for a living, I get to share with my students all of my knowledge and love for this practice that truly changed my life. To celebrate the launch of @aloyoga’s FREE International Shipping campaign, I’ve partnered up with alo + some om-azing yogi friends from all around the world to bring you a fun new yoga challenge — #AloAroundTheWorld. Together, we are inviting you to show us where in the world you love to practice yoga + share a story in the caption of your post about your most memorable “toe-to-mat” experience. Your post can be a photo or video, just remember to make your account public + follow @aloyoga, @alo.moves and use the hashtag #AloAround TheWorld so we can see all of your beautiful posts and stories! 3 lucky winners will receive $100 to aloyoga.com + a Warrior Mat + a free 6-month subscription to alo moves. Photo by @sfreneenyc Taken at @alonewyork wearing @aloyoga #beagoddess #igchallenge #yoga #yogagirl #yogapose #yogainspiration #art #strong #flexibility
All of the sudden, when class started, I forgot about everything else and I was completely lost in her voice. Between the strong, yet graceful, sequencing and a gorgeous Italian accent, I was swept away from everything I had on my mind, even beyond the worries of taking my first real yoga class. Everything just melted away for me in that space.
Hot yoga with Eleonora became my time to face and accept all my heartbreak and worry.
I was just shy of a year of being with Tristan and he was about to leave home for Berklee and I wasn’t coping well. I didn’t want to be abandoned. In coming to yoga, I was hoping for answers or an escape, but I received what I needed, not what I wanted. I was given a place where I had to face my fear and anxiety, and I had to show myself true compassion, which was so much more rewarding than hiding and running. I had to embrace there not being any answers as to what the future held for me, but being willing to accept it anyway. If the love I had was to end, at least I had loved well. Yoga became an extremely important tool for me, and part of that was meeting the perfect teacher at the perfect time.
After only my second class with Eleonora, a woman who was in class with me recognized me from the local music scene and commented on my voice. Eleonora overheard, and without knowing anything about me or if I was any good, she asked me if I was interested in providing music for a new project she was working on. She called it Ode to the Moon and, at the time, it would raise money for 180 Turning Lives around, a local organization committed to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and education, as well as providing resources for survivors in need.
I was so excited for the opportunity because I always wanted to put music and yoga together. I didn’t know if it could be done, especially with my kind of sound, which I assumed was a bit large for yoga, but I was excited for the challenge.
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Yoga changed my life. It made me believe I was strong enough to make it. That, despite all my imperfections, I am worthy. Every backbend, every inversion that I never thought I could do, everything I do with my body is, to me, a miracle. With time I understood that my physical practice has a lot to do with how I react when I fall, when I can't get in the pose I want, when everything hurts and when I have to deal with my limitations. Acceptance. Patience. Compassion. Breathing. Trying. Believing in yourself. These are the things that lead you into any asanas, and I found these are the things that leads you through anything in life. Photo by @sfreneenyc Wearing @aloyoga at the @alonewyork #beagoddess #yoga #yogagirl #igyoga #yogainspiration #limitless #flexibile #loveyourself
July came around, our first event with it, and I was a bit surprised at some of the song selections, which included Eleonora wanting me to do Dream On by Aerosmith, a song I was performing regularly at the time, without holding back. Much as I suspected, she did not expect the sounds I would produce. I have a hard time trying to explain my voice to people because it feels like I’m being cocky, but at the same time, if they want me to sing at their event, especially a yoga class, I want to explain my typical sound the best I can as to not overpower anything and get us on the same page as to what I should prepare. Eleonora insisted on wanting full sound out of me, despite my efforts in trying to explain to her I do not sound like what I look like. I know I’m building up this story making it sound like a true train wreck happened, but that was quite the opposite of what transpired. I sang as I was instructed and, while I don’t think Eleonora was prepared for it, I think the process of the two of us coming together throughout the course of the class created something truly magical. I had never felt that way or done anything like Ode to the Moon in my entire life. I felt like I had found a new calling. Over the years, we’ve been able to create a really unique yoga and music experience as we’ve come to know the ebb and flow of one another throughout class, all in the name of spreading domestic violence awareness and creating safe spaces.
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I struggle to feel beautiful. I always did. But then I found this practice called yoga and with it the ability to forgive my self for all my mistakes. Through the movements of my body I was able to discover the incredible strength that had been dormant inside for so long. The ability to be grateful. Grateful not only for my healthy body and for the life I am living but, more then everything, for all of what I have been trough. For everything I was and for everything I am today. #loveyourself Photo by @sfreneenyc Wearing @aloyoga #igyoga #yogaphotography #goddess #yoga #yogapose #limitless #flexibility #beagoddess
Eleonora was so thankful to me after our successful collaboration, and in such a short time, she was touching my heart and feeding my soul.
I was just as grateful to her for giving Ode to the Moon to me. I was honored for her to open up to me about her story and tumultuous past that inspired her to create Ode to the Moon in the first place. It was hard to believe a person so beautiful and full of love could have ever been so abused. It broke my heart, and Ode to the Moon became equally my mission. I wanted to help heal everyone everywhere who had ever been hurt by someone they should have been able to trust more than anyone in the world.
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I never thought I would ever be strong enough to hold a handstand just as I never thought I would ever be strong enough to survive my past, learn how to love myself, or to simply enjoy life. But I was wrong. I’m tired of pretending, tired of being tired. All I want is to be free, to be me. Once and for all, I want to be nothing more than myself. Picture by @sfreneenyc Wearing @aloyoga #yogainspiration #handstand #inversion #strong #yogaposes #yogagirl #beagoddess #limitless
Since starting this journey together, Ode to the Moon has become its own non-profit 501c3 organization. This series of classes is still alive and well today and, after over a year, Ode to the Moon is returning for our first event at the Alo Yoga Store in SoHo next Sunday! Eleonora and I are both currently rising up from the ashes and we are so thrilled to be bringing this class back to you. Without further ado, let’s introduce you to Eleonora Zampatti:
From the sprawling tattoos to her flowing Italian accent, yoga instructor Eleonora Zampatti is to yoga what the moon is to the tides. One cannot move if the other is stagnant. This is exactly the purpose that Eleonora sets for her students and classes. For every pose, there is a gentle intention. For every emotion, there is an unbiased connection. She encourages her students to listen to their bodies, find their inner voices, and rewrite any stories that don’t honor their truths.
Milano native now living in NJ, USA she is an International body movement specialist, yoga teacher, author, fitness model and founder of the Ode to the Moon project, a series of events that uses yoga, art and music to bring awareness on the topic of domestic violence and empower victims of abuse.
Of course, just as I asked my last spotlight guest, I also asked Eleonora how she practices. Here is what she had to say:
How do you practice and set aside time for your craft and individual growth?
I try to practice yoga daily, if just for few minutes. Most of anything I try to take time for myself. I live a life where I spend most of my day giving to others. Sometimes my own practice consist in hiding from others and move my body in silence. That’s why beside yoga I like cycling so much. I guess my way to take care of myself lies in the ability to move my body alone in silence so that I can truly understand not only who I am but most of anything what I need.
How do you practice taking those skills into the real world to create positive impact and foster growth in society?
I don’t really know how to answer this. I can’t define what I do for others or for society. I m a believer that society depends upon the individual and all I can do to better the world is to better my self. That’s what I try to do. Using my teaching to make other feel as safe as I want to feel.
I highly recommend you follow Eleonora on instagram here (and read those captions!), find out more about Ode to the Moon here, and register for our upcoming event at Alo Yoga SoHo here! All of the profits from this class goes to the Ode to the Moon project. Full details for the yoga class given below:
Ode to the Moon
Sunday, October 28th from 6 PM to 7:30 PM
with Eleonora Zampatti & Allison LaRochelle
Alo Yoga SoHo
96 Spring St.
New York, NY 10012
Allison LaRochelle always struggled with communication and connecting with her peers when she was younger. A very quiet, reserved girl, she still loved going around the house singing. At 7-years old, when she performed on stage for the first time, she felt she finally understood how to connect with others and how important it was. Bruce Gallipani, of the Rockit Live Foundation, recognized this passion in her and so she began her Rockit journey as part of the first group of children and young adults to participate in the program. She is the only student to have been in the first session and never missed a single one all the way up until her graduation 9 years later in 2015. It was here she fostered her love for rock, blues, soul, and everything vintage in between. Her main influences include Janis Joplin, Shemekia Copeland, Susan Tedeschi and Joss Stone, though many artists have shaped her over the years. LaRochelle was also educated as a vocal major at Red Bank Regional High School and is a 2018 graduate of Berklee College of Music, where she completed her degree summa cum laude in Contemporary Writing and Production. She accomplished this degree in 3 years at the ripe age of 20-years-old. Music gave LaRochelle a voice, and she hopes her music helps others to find theirs.
LaRochelle came to yoga looking for answers, and over the course of her journey has received only one- no one is owed any. She came to yoga in 2014 full of anxiety and heartbreak, and yoga did not take away the pain or give her a means of escaping, but instead allowed her to sit- to abide- in all she was feeling. This helped her eradicate her fear of an unknown future. LaRochelle developed a passion for yoga and connected with the practice very similarly to how she connected with her musical practice. She loved the healing, rhythm, intimacy with one’s self, the new medium of self expression, and the overall hope to harmonize the inner-self with all that is. In 2018, LaRochelle was able to participate in Bodhi Yoga Academy‘s Tinton Falls, NJ 200hr yoga teacher training program with Samantha Vetrano, Irene Pappas, Tess McDaniel, and guest teacher, Eleonora Zampatti. As a result of completing this program, Allison LaRochelle is a CYT (Certified Yoga Teacher) 200. This training gave LaRochelle an in-depth education on safe asana (yoga posture) practices, yoga history, and yoga philosophy. She is passionate about sharing and incorporating all 8 limbs of yoga into her classes in order for her students to understand what yoga is all about and to honor the culture in which yoga comes from. Allison recognizes yoga as a lifelong practice and plans to pursue more training and education always. Forever a student!
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