“A few months before I started my yoga practice, I had been studying abroad in Italy and Austria where I gained 20lbs. As someone who always identified with being athletic and had grown up playing basketball and running track, I felt like my identity was at stake. So, my yoga journey then began when my friend Kadie encouraged me to sign up for an intro month at a Bikram studio in Montclair, NJ. I wasn’t feeling confident, healthy, or fit at the time. My mind and body were disconnected and I didn’t feel like I was really able to move in the way I was used to.
Practicing yoga and learning to move in this new way was a huge turning point for me. The physicality of the practice made an immediate difference in my life – both physically and mentally, and motivated me to explore new possibilities in my life!
I was consistently at the studio three to four times a week. It enabled me to make friends in the community, and became my safe haven in a city I didn’t grow up in or know many people in. It was the main factor that helped root me there.
Then, in 2009 I moved to Houston, TX. I continued to practice Bikram, but was curious to explore different styles of yoga. I didn’t find the Baptiste Affiliate studio, BIG Power Yoga until four or five years later. My friend Andi told me that I’d just love it and it’d be where I’d find my ‘yoga home’. She seemed pretty positive about her intuition, so I agreed and eventually attended a class.
When I first walked through the doors at BIG, I was greeted in the way that completely changed my life. Nancy, who co-owns the studio and Marcy, a teacher who recently passed away, were instrumental in motivating me to explore Baptiste yoga and be a part of the BIG community in a really integral way. I started assisting kids yoga classes there while I was off for the summer from my full-time elementary school teaching job.
I realized that my passion for teaching was beginning to stem outside of the traditional classroom. I wanted to work with students in a different environment, focusing on mindfulness and yoga. I enrolled in BIG’s 200-hour teacher training to learn more about this style of yoga and Lightyear Leadership and to garner tools that I could share with people who have never stepped into a yoga studio before.
Shortly after graduating BIG’s 200-hour teacher training, I started Wild Hearts Yoga. Wild Hearts Yoga seeks to increase access to Baptiste-inspired yoga by bringing it to YOU in YOUR community. We are out to break down barriers and eliminate misconceptions about “what yoga is” and “who it is for” by meeting you, your family, and your friends exactly where you’re at in your practice.
We promise to create a place where you can explore and discover new things about yourself that will transform your life on and off of your mat. We are studio-free and strive to connect any community together through unique experiences rooted in yoga and mindfulness.
A huge part of my drive for creating Wild Hearts is my belief that you don’t need to be in a studio to get the benefits of yoga – you can be in a park, you can be in your house, on a trail in the mountains…wherever! More than the physical space, transformation through yoga and mindfulness stems from a practice of intentional asana, meditation and nutrition. Something additionally beneficial about eliminating the studio space is the opportunity to merge different age groups together. Kids can truly benefit from learning about yoga and mindfulness, especially if they have the opportunity to learn WITH rather than separated from their parents. When kids are with their parents learning about yoga and mindfulness at the same time, it provides opportunity for deeper learning and application, and shared memorable experiences arise that transform isolated behaviors and practices into routine habits.
I currently work for Denver Public Schools full time. Teachers and administrators are also role models for kids and I’m stoked that so many of these folks have an open mind about learning more about yoga and mindfulness! Together, we’ve worked with them on getting centered, grounded, and clear on their intentions on and off their mat to maximize their own potential and building their best selves for their students.
In my own practice and in my teaching I’m focusing on moving beyond the physicality of the practice and tapping into the spiritual and mental benefits of yoga.
I have benefitted from sharing about these shifts with others and I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue in my own personal growth.” – Alexis Comardo
Follow her story on Instagram, here.
Check out our other inspiring stories of everyday yoga practitioners and please, #ShareToEmpowerALL ! We strive to empower others to get vulnerable, be inspired to start a yoga practice of their own to bring in hope & possibility.
Reach out to Jen to get involved, here.