…I can’t say that I had one transformative “yoga moment”. It was more like I kept bumping into yoga and eventually, I couldn’t ignore it…
I figured out that yoga was something that actually really worked for me. After years of running, jumping, pushing, and doing everything I could to get “in shape”, without respecting or loving my body and my abilities, I suddenly decided to discover my full potential.
Why did you start yoga?
For so many of us, it was an injury, loss, suffering, or setback of some sort – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual.
When we asked Eleonora Zampatti to sit down with us and talk about her teachings, practice, and what she’ll bring to VibeWell HONORS of May 11, 2019, we were DEEPLY inspired by how and why she comes to the mat.
This interview is authenticity personified. Read through, and prepare to fall in love with a woman who allows herself the space to fall apart every single day.
And be with us on May 11 at VibeWell HONORS, where Eleonora will take the stage to teach Acro Yoga, as well as offer her thoughts on how Yoga Saves Lives, as a part of panel.
How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?
I have always been into fitness and sport, but getting me onto a yoga mat has really been a progression, a journey.
Before yoga, my relationship with movements was mainly directed towards losing weight and to the eating disorder which I suffered from.
I was very judgemental with my body. I never liked the way I looked and I never trusted myself enough to think my body could do anything worthwhile. After growing up in Italy, when I first came to the United States, I needed to enroll in a school for my visa. I had been teaching swim, spin and aerobics for a long time and it seems to make sense for me to try to enroll a scholl who was giving me the opportunity to do what I loved the most: be fit.
Moved by an uncanny and unhelathy obsession to workout and be skinny, I decided to enroll in a dance school, which I thought I would love. It was all ballet and contemporary and we had to take twenty classes a week. To be honest, I hated it! I have never danced before, the schedule was very intense and when I wasn’t killing myself in my mandatory ballet and contemporary classes, I had to fill the gaps with other classes. Is there that I started to do some flexibility training and some yoga-type classes that were aimed at dancers but I did not enjoy them much at the time.
One day, after a very bad fight with my ex-boyfriend, I walked past a yoga studio and wandered in to take a hot yoga class, just for something to do.
During that fight he had told me that :“I was crazy and I needed to do some Yoga” and I just wanted to please him by following his suggestions.
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 of that class, my mind and body were both totally drained and exhasted but I felt like I had created a space inside of myself that I hadn’t even known existed.
The space I needed to understand how much I was suffering, in both my body and my broken heart.
The space I needed to realize I unhappy I was. Scared and desperate.
The space I needed to realize I wanted to heal. Heal from years of abuses and sorrow.
I suppose in that way I can’t say that I had one transformative ‘yoga moment’. It was more like I kept bumping into yoga and eventually, I couldn’t ignore it. It was then that I figured out that yoga was something that actually really worked for me. After years of running, jumping, pushing and doing everything I could to get in shape, without neither respecting or loving my body and my abilities, I suddenly decided to discover my full potential.
Yoga transformed me. Thank to this practice I became the strongerst I have ever been and that body that I have always perceived as an enemy became the instrument I have to play the melody of my soul. Something to nourish, love and be proud of.
And so did I. I became my bigegst inspiration.
Now, I am not practicing yoga because I want my body to look a certain way. I do not sit on my mat to achieve a particular pose or to prove soemething to somebody else.
I roll my mat to fall apart.
To allow my self to be fully broken and in that emptiness, find myself.
What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice?
I struggled to be myself. I still do.
I struggled to love a body that I have always perceived as an enemy.
I struggled to accept my flaws and learn how to turn them into my best qualities.
Everything on the mat was hard for me. I was not flexible and I was not strong. When I started to practice yoga I was unhealthy, overwhelmed by a life spent suffering on an emotional level and hating myself for the way I looked. I was not taking care of my body and I was not allowing my self to let go of anything toxic. I was holding on my fears and my anxiety. I was broken in so many ways. Today I know who I am. I know I am worthy. Unique. Unstoppable. What I appreaciate the most about my yoga journey is that I trough the movements of my body I was able to reclaim my soul. By spending so much tima alone on my mat I realized that if you work hard, if you are patient and if you trust the process you can achieve anything you want, on and off the mat.
There is no limit to what you can do if you love and respect yourself.
Describe the practice you are offering at VibeWell Honors:
I will be tecahing Acro Yoga Fundamentals together with Brendan Neary – a practice I fell in love with and that helped me to redifine my concept of strenght and connection.
Acro Yoga gave me wings, teaching me how, in a world where the meaning of communication and connection are completely twisted by social media and the overall indifference of people, we can still be real.
It redefined the meaning of touch, a sense that is almost lost in modern society.
It taught me to use the movements of my body to create a symphony with somebody else, a dance that goes way beyond the physical aspect for of two bodies supporting each other to perform a yoga pose.
Something that transcends time and space.
Connection – pure, raw and simple – what I believe to be the key of a relationship. The ability to be there for each other, to hold each other accountable, to never fear falling and only aim to become the best we can be.
What for some can appear just as an acrobatic, purely physical practice, has become for me so much more. It has become the ability to recognize what love is really supposed to be.
Trust. Connection. Communication.
These are the foundations of acro yoga. A fun, empowering and challenging practice that will teach you how strong you really are when you learn how to work together with your acro partner. In this class you will learn the essentials and foundational aspects of acro yoga – like foot placement, spotting and communication. We will work on conditioning the body to be able to play with poses like bird, throne, and folded leaf. With the knowledge of these basics poses you will find the confidence necessary to unlock your body and mind, and tap into exciting acro yoga transitions. Overcome that fear that you may have about what acro yoga is, and discover your full potential (while having fun).
No partner needed, just your desire to connect and learn something new about yourself and your yoga practice!
What will “yoga” look like in 10 years?
How can I know that?
And I honestly also if I could, I would not want to know it. I don’t live projected in the future. I enjoy every moment that is given to me and I focus on the present. I find it the best way to avoid unecessary anxiety.
To work hard on being the best version of your self. Right here and right now.
Tell us about a student who inspires you.
Brendan Neary. ( which happens to now be also my boyfriend and work partner). When I met him things were not easy for me. I was chasing an idea of love that simply did not existed, exhausted and too vulnerable to admit how hurt I was. Too afraid to admit I needed to change, stand up for myself, make decisions I did not want to make. Too afraid tot rust anyboy, myself included.
In the very instant I looked into his eyes I discovered that, despite what I was taught to believe, I was never lost. Nothing about me is as wrong as I thought it was and I realized that I have within my self all I need to be happy. This man that in such a short amount of time became my best student, dear friend, and biggest support.Through his grace and determination, he helped me to redefine my own concept of strength. Day by day he inspires me to be the best person that I can be by simply never giving up. He climbs, he runs, he does iron man, he rides 100 miles to raise money for cancer but when it comes to yoga, he struggles. Too strong to be flexible, too stubburn to be vulnerable, the first time he walked on in class he trusted the process. He trusted me. He showed me that sometimes real strength translate in the ability to accept struggles and surrender to it.
It does not matter how challenging it gets for him, he always showes up and he does it with a smile on his face. He is funny, curious, determined, and patient.
He asks questions and he work so hard to achieve his goals.
After almost a full year of consistent practice I withness his body change and unlock and so his heart.
I remember me approaching him during his first class and assist him during low lounge twist. I told him, “Let me help opening your heart” and he responded : “Yeah, good luck with that!”
He confessed to me he hated every second of that class ( and many others) but despite that he kept trying. He knew he needed it and now he loves this practice as much as I do. To see him smiling when he moves into flexibility based poses is beyond inspiring.
I am very proud of him and the work we have done together till now.
Tell us something that your yoga students would never guess about you:
I have a few! First, I am a huge horror movies fan. Second, I’ve never been drunk. Third, I really like a lot of bad food. Fourth, I had coffee for the first time in 2013, when I moved to NJ.
And last? I never ate a hot dog or a pancake before April 2018.
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