Hello everyone!  I'd like to share my yoga journey with you because I took a ton of yoga classes during March Madness and because #IamMartina.  No really though, these past few months of being a part of the Yoga Squared Community have been amazing and life-changing for me, and I wanted to share a bit about myself with everyone (because a lot of people were wondering “who is this yogi phantom who haunts Yoga Squared but nobody is really sure of what she looks like?”).

So March Madness is over, and I can’t believe how many classes I went to last month--42!  I’ve grown within myself so much in these past few months that I have been a part of the Yoga Squared Community.  I try to attend class nearly every day and it always gives me something to look forward to after working or on the weekend.  I’m so glad for the friends I’ve made and I hope to meet many more of you!  I truly love and appreciate everyone I see and interact with at the studio.

I moved to Akron on Thanksgiving weekend 2016 to live with my boyfriend (hello Jeff, love you!).  Past the age of 18, I’ve spent my life west of Cleveland, so adjusting to a city where I didn’t know many people was difficult.  I wasn’t used to the stores, I had to change doctors etc... all that stuff that nobody really likes to do. I had also been used to having access to a ton of yoga studios all over Lakewood, but I didn’t frequent them very often as there wasn’t a community vibe like there is with YS – I also wasn’t ready to dedicate myself to intense practice.

I brought up to my boyfriend how odd it was that there wasn’t a yoga studio in Highland Square yet!  It seemed like the perfect location and community for a yoga studio.  Within the same week, I saw an advertisement on Instagram for a week of free classes at a newly-opened yoga studio (Yoga Squared!) – it was meant to be!  I had no idea how this one little ad would change my life.

Going way, way back … I was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1989.  In the early 1990s, a civil war erupted in the region over ethnic disparities.  My parents decided it was best for them to get my brother and I out of the area safely, so we were war refugees.  For a while we lived in some refugee camps, surviving on rice and sometimes getting peanut butter from America.  I know my brother’s love of peanut butter started there, but I didn’t like it back then (now I eat it nearly every day with my oatmeal!).  We travelled through Austria to Germany, where we were given asylum by the government and provided for.  I was too young to understand what was happening to my family, how difficult this was for my parents even though they hid it.  None of us spoke the language, but my brother and I picked it up quickly since we were young.  We had lost our home and left most of our family behind in Bosnia, but Germany was home to me since it was all I knew.

My parents weren’t permitted to have jobs for the five years that we lived in Germany.  After these five years, the German government allowed us to either go to the United States or back to Bosnia, where they are to this day still uncovering land mines.  My parents decided that the United States held the most promise for my brother and I, even though we didn’t speak the language and the culture was foreign to us.  I can never repay them for the risks and sacrifices they made so that my brother and I could be safe.

But, back to the present. I am so thankful for Nikki for opening Yoga Squared – I again feel like I’ve found a home like I did when my family moved to Germany.  I hope that Nikki realizes how many people’s lives she has touched and positively affected, and I wish nothing more than for people to come to the studio and feel the positive vibes that yoga practice provides.  I’m really excited to see where my yoga journey takes me and what other positive aspects it will add to my life as I continue to grow and evolve.

I’ve learned how to truly breathe: how combining breath with movement can heal the body and mind.  My stress and anxiety have been reduced, teaching me how focusing inward and breathing can make those things which seem so overwhelming in the moment come into perspective.  I always just thought yoga was a stretching workout, but I’ve learned it’s so much more than that.  It helps improve your mind as much- if not more- than your body.

I wanted to thank Nikki and Kate for choosing me as the Yogi Transformer for the Month of April– it feels really nice to be noticed and appreciated for my effort.  I’ve never been able to dedicate myself to much, besides veganism.  Four months ago I had no idea yoga would have changed my life so much! I’ve been focusing a lot this month on the Inversion Immersion Workshop with Andrea and Kate!  I love getting upside down and seeing myself progress through (almost) daily practice. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story!  Namaste and I will see you around the studio!

"I Am Martina"

"I Am Martina"