I lived at 93 Grand Avenue until I was twelve years old, just down the street from Yoga Squared. The fire station on Dodge Street was behind us and when the men got off duty they’d climb over the fence to throw back a few beers with my parents. (Maybe that’s why my brother is a fire/medic)?? I used to walk up to Capri Pizza for my mom to pick up the pepperoni pizza that she would order for us and pay with the coupons that were cut from the boxes the pizzas came in. My brother and I would walk to the Highland Theater on Saturdays and pay a dollar to spend the afternoon watching cartoons. All the neighborhood kids would play kickball in the street with the gas attendants of the old Sohio gas station that was across from my house. I lived at the library in the summers. I attended Portage Path Elementary and am still in touch with some of my grade school classmates. When I met my husband many years later he lived next door to the house I grew up in, while I was living in one of the apartment buildings on West Market Street in the heart of the Square. Needless to say, Highland Square is a part of my existence.
Moving forward a number of years, I currently live in West Akron and am a married mother of two beautiful girls, one in high school, one in college. I work full-time at an oftentimes stressful job. My parents have health issues so I try to help out as much as I can. I’m an active volunteer. Just like so many of you, I was(am) always busy and rarely made(make) time for myself. I was sleep deprived as my insomnia that I’ve had since college, had gotten worse. As a result, I was exhausted and being pulled in so many directions, trying to make everyone happy, trying to give, give, give until I reached a point in my life at the end of last year where I felt I didn’t know who I was as a person. As Me. As Laura. And I realized that although I had a good life overall, I was also incredibly sad, quick to anger and felt like I was sinking into an abyss. Around this time, a co-worker of mine was sharing with us that her daughter was opening a yoga studio in Highland Square. And as she excitedly shared the details of the studio’s progression, I became a little excited, partly because I have watched her daughter grow up over the years and partly because I had always been intrigued about yoga but was never brave enough to look into what it was about. Plus this studio was opening in my beloved Highland Square!
I decided to sign up for a beginner’s workshop in February and thus began my romance with yoga. I. Love. It. I love everything about the studio, I felt at home the first time I walked in. Maybe because I remember frequenting the same space when it was a video rental store back in the day??? The instructors are down to earth, caring, and take a personal interest in the yogis. I regularly run into fellow yogis outside of class and in class have reconnected with people whom I haven’t seen in forever. I love that yoga is an ongoing practice and that there is so much to learn – trust me I have SO much to learn. I love that you are doing it for yourself and not for others. I love that I can practice at my own beginner’s pace and I don’t feel awkward. I love that I don’t feel envious seeing someone fluidly moving into an inversion as I flip my dog on top of my neighbor. I love closing my eyes, learning about the breath and how the poses affect parts of the body. I love the names of poses and figuring out why they’re named that way. And I love that some days I’m just not able to connect with the breathing or letting my mind relax, or being just plain gawky in learning some of the poses and that that’s okay!
And slowly over these past 8 months I feel like I have regained some inner peace – I’m not mom, daughter, wife, sister, employee or volunteer while I’m in class. I’m ME. I’m not perfect and that’s perfectly okay. I feel better about myself, I have lost almost 20 lbs, I’m more flexible and have toned up. I am sleeping better. Most importantly, with the help of yoga I am learning to let go of the guilt that I have built up over the years in not being able to do more or help more or solve all the world’s problems, lol! Yoga is ageless and I look forward to continuing my physical, spiritual and relaxation journey.