First, I’d like to thank the Lawd (Lord), my family, RuPaul, EarthFare Purple Velvet Smoothies, MAC, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant, Old Navy and the Yoga Squared judges’ panel for this illustrious honor.
Anyway, I’m Devon (Deh-vin) Fennell (Fin-nell) , a goofball raised on the mean streets of...West Akron. You’ve probably seen me sweating, struggling or frog posing in class before and thought, “Why does she sweat so much?”
The answer is heredity.
Or maybe you thought, “What brings this magical creature to class when she’s not being a top-notch writer/petsitter/amateur comedian?”
Well, I’ll tell you.
Yoga Squared helped me during a really rough time in my life.
Back in December, while everyone was feeling the holiday cheer, I was extremely frustrated and overwhelmed by my job and a few other things that were beyond my control. Under normal circumstances, I’m the one who tries to keep things real, light and positive. I’m also the one who finds humor in almost every situation instead of getting all “Lifetime movie of the week”. But during that time, my spirit was heavy, the lightness and joy I usually had was nowhere to be found, my body was constantly knotted up from all of the stress and my blood pressure was out of control.
Now, I’ve practiced yoga in the past, but I never went to a studio on a regular basis.
I stumbled upon a yoga workout on television years ago and would follow along from time to time. Then, I made an effort to try some of the community classes offered in the area. I enjoyed yoga, but it kind of got lost in the shuffle between Zumba and other booty shaking cardio classes. And while I did it randomly, I never forgot how good my mind and body felt after yoga. I knew I had to get back to it. So, when I saw Yoga Squared’s new student special on Facebook, I took it as a holiday miracle from Sweet Baby Jesus. It was like he smacked my forehead with his tiny, cherubic hand. I think he also said, “Put down that pint of Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core and take your behind to class” in his supersonic voice.
Of course, that didn’t really happen, but if it did, I know that SBJ would keep it real. Anyway, the new student special ended up being the perfect way for me to ease back into yoga.
From day one, I felt like I belonged at Yoga Squared. Nikki just has a smile that makes you feel like you’re an old friend. I knew that she truly cared about everyone who walked through the door. At Yoga Squared, I was a person – not another membership opportunity. That instantly put me at ease.
Another thing I immediately loved was the diversity in the classes. They weren’t filled with yoga bots (no offense to yoga bots) who were decked out in expensive outfits. Instead, I saw people of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. Ahhhnnnd, there were dudes in classes, and dudes teaching classes. Holy schizballs! Who knew all of that actually went down in the real world?!? I did, but I never witnessed it in the classes I attended over the years. I only saw it on the series of tubes (the Internet). Man, it was like a yoga aha moment. I finally felt like I found the ideal place to practice.
Once I started attending classes on a regular basis, I felt the joy and lightness that I thought I had lost returning. My body started to feel better (my massage therapist can testify if you need her to), my mind wasn’t constantly in overdrive and my blood pressure wasn’t at terror alert red all of the time. Cue the Hallelujah Chorus, because I found my sweet spot.
I truly appreciated the March Madness Challenge because it helped me develop a more consistent practice. It also empowered me to try the higher-level classes. In that 31 days, I took sooooo many classes (Sometimes three or four a day. Hell, that was better than Netflix and stuffing my face with cake all day!) and I surprised myself all the time (shout out to my junior high headstand which is now a freshman headstand). I wasn’t in it for the prizes. I was in it for my health and well-being. It ended up being the best thing that I’ve done for myself in a long time.
Overall, the biggest thing that I’ve learned on the mat is that some things are just out of your control. In life, you’re going to wobble or struggle just like you might wobble or struggle on that Manduka, Jade Yoga, Gaiam or T.J. Maxx ten-dollar holler mat. And you’re going to get frustrated. But you can’t let those wobbles or struggles steal your joy. You just have to keep it moving and find a great group of people who will support you along the way. And what I know for sure is that I have found a wonderful group of people at Yoga Squared.
Thank you for putting up with me...and now, my parents. ;) I love you all.
Smooches and snaps. Hugs and high fives.
Fist bumps and arm pumps,