Meet Ellen Minier, our amazing yogi who you will see in a variety of yoga classes. She primarily practices Flow, but has pushed herself to try all the styles at HYA and she ROCKS them all! Ellen shares the story of her yoga journey, which includes losing 100 pounds and turning her life and health around!
Q: How did you begin practicing at HYA?
EM: After I had gastric-bypass surgery in 2007, I lost weight but soon gained it all back. I also suffered many complications as a result of that surgery. I had been morbidly obese according to the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale since about the age of 15 and at the time I had the bypass I was desperate to lose weight for health reasons and would have done ANYTHING to lose weight.
I regained the weight because I never connected the elements of mind, body and breath to my routine. I found myself desperate again to lose weight and began searching for answers in the form of an exercise I could do in my current condition. I attended my first yoga class and felt so self-conscious until I peeked an eye open and realized NO ONE was staring at me for doing everything “wrong” like I had thought.
In November 2020, I made a commitment to incorporate yoga into my daily life. I started with gentle and restorative classes, and gradually into Vinyasa/Flow (which is officially my favorite style). Magically, I found myself slowing down, taking a breath between bites of food, and being mindful of every delicious bite. I was amazed that I was losing extra pounds and still eating whatever I wanted, mindfully and in moderation. The more I practiced the better I felt. I decided yoga was the secret key to unlocking success in terms of my health. Almost a year later, I was stuck 10 pounds shy of my goal of losing 100 pounds and I discovered HYA, which helped me cross the finish line and finally be within my proper BMI for the first time in my life.
Q: What has yoga helped teach you?
EM: Yoga has helped me let go of so much stress in my daily life that had previously caused behaviors that were detrimental to my health. I went from literally not being able to touch my toes to getting through an entire Hot Power Flow class, always listening to my body as to when it was time to rest.
When I made it through Hot Power Flow for the firsts time, I felt a sense of accomplishment, release, and calm that my busy mind had rarely experienced. The damage that was done to my body as a result of carrying around 100 extra pounds for 40 years has caused a lot of physical and mental pain. I also felt guilt and resentment toward myself for putting my hips and knees through so much pain. They were painful, wobbly, and weak.
Q: How has your practice changed?
EM: Practicing yoga has become a challenge in a different way now than when I first started. I was so nervous about practicing in a studio with mirrors after a lifetime of avoiding mirrors. Being brave enough to look in the mirror at the HYA studio has helped with everything from my alignment to acceptance of the person in the reflection. HYA staff and instructors have helped me go from seeing myself as weak and blaming myself for the damage that extra 100 pounds caused to seeing myself as STRONG for having carried that heavy load for all that time. This is why I LOVE HYA! The support I have received from the staff has been truly moving.
Q: What advice would you pass along to new students?
EM: I want to be clear that my journey included losing weight, but truly do not want to promote yoga as “a way to lose weight.” Because yoga is so much more than that. I do believe in body positivity and health at any size. Once I connected with that love for myself through the practice of yoga, the weight problem took care of itself. What I learned was that the lack of self-love kept me from letting go of the bad habits that were keeping me at an unhealthy BMI.
Because of HYA I am healthier, happier, in less physical and emotional pain, and have gained friendships that will last a lifetime. My advice to a new student is to breathe, smile, know you are in great company, and to keep coming back to the practice of yoga because there is always something to be learned from an hour on the mat.
Q: How has your life changed?
EM: I am a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner as well as a chef. Last year, I decided to open my own private psychiatry clinic with the intention to incorporate more nutritional wellness and less psychotropic medication into the practice of psychiatry. I highly recommend yoga to my patients as part of their treatment plans.
I recently attended a continuing education seminar detailing the new evidence-based research proving that yoga is beneficial to mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I sometimes refer to yoga as my “medicine” because it helps me to release others’ emotional pain that I tend to absorb and the stress of owning and operating a busy solo mental health practice.