After taking Eleonora’s Yoga Flow class at a local studio in my area, I was intrigued by her style and approach to yoga. Within the first two minutes of class, I found out she is a native from Milan, Italy. Beyond her obvious grace and beauty, she has a wide range of fitness certifications. She has even created workshops that are in harmony with her mission and goals in life. More on that later…
Most of her certifications, ranging from aerobic to kickboxing, were completed in Italy. She received her aerobic certification in 2000, and every year after that, she enrolled in training programs to receive more certifications. She slowly collected certifications year after year. Her yoga certification was completed in NYC in 2010.
Her story is nothing short of extraordinary. Here, she bravely answers my questions about her personal journey of healing through yoga.
When did you realize you had a passion for fitness?
Eleonora says, “I was lucky enough to be introduced to fitness as soon as I could walk.”
Her father was a professional downhill skier, and her mother had a passion for swimming. When she lived in Milan, every weekend she would go to the mountain village where her dad was born about two hours from the city. She practiced at a ski resort village, called Ponte di Legno.
There, she could ski with her dad and swim in the pool. She did this regularly when she was 14 years old. She reveals, “I’ve always been chubby, and when I became a teenager I started to have problems with it. I was not able to manage my weight and I started to suffer from eating disorders.”
So, she dropped swim and ski and started to join a gym to lose weight. It was a difficult time in her life, but it led her to discover something greater, her first big fitness passions: aerobics and step.
At only 16 years old, she became certified as an aerobic instructor. Two years after, she started teaching part-time in what she says, “basically every gym in Milan.”
She then joined the national aerobic team and started competing in aerobic competitions. Through all of her physical pursuits, she dropped the extra weight. She describes herself as, “a very Type A kind of person” and she continued to follow her passion by getting certified in anything that she could get certified in, including: spinning, music classes, and kickboxing. Later on in her career she discovered Pilates and what she says, “a totally different world of fitness… a more gentle one.” From there, she moved on to Yogalates.
When she moved to the USA seven years ago, she embraced yoga. And the world around her became a better place.
Follow your bliss
As a woman who was clearly so passionate about fitness at an early age, I had to ask, what advice would she give to women to follow their passion?
She says, “I would tell her not to be afraid to be vulnerable and scared. Don’t try to be ‘the man’ but to do everything with the grace and tremble that only a woman can have… I would tell her to love herself in the process.”
Why did you move from Italy to New York?
Eleonora boldly shares,
“I was not practicing yoga when I moved here. I was living a totally different lifestyle. I was unhappy, my heart was broken. I was never able to recover from a very abusive relationship and kept getting in trouble. Wrong relationships, wrong friends, communications problems with my family and I was not happy at work. I knew I could be so much better and Italy was just not for me. I never felt understood… I came to the USA following ‘the American Dream,’ believing that I could come in this country, forget my past, and create a bright future for me.
So, I enrolled in a five years dance academy in Manhattan, got a student visa and just left. It was not as easy I imagined, though… actually it was pretty brutal! I started to really practice yoga once I moved into Manhattan to help me support the 20 hours of dance classes I had to take for my student visa, and I slowly fell in love with it. Yoga became my moment to connect to myself and disconnect from the crazy life I was living.”
I soon started to learn about her strength to leave an abusive relationship, and how it helped her get in touch with the darkness and made her stronger. Due to her past experiences, her teaching evolved into the need to use yoga to bring awareness to an issue that needs to be addressed – domestic violence.
Eleonora says in truth,
“It took a very long time. I kept choosing partners who were hurting me. I was not able to love myself and that’s why I was letting my partner abuse me.
I was in two bad abusive relationships and the second time was terrible. He was so verbally and emotionally abusive. He had total control over me. I had only him and he had convinced me I was lost without him.
I remember watching a couple walking and holding each other’s hands, and thinking that I was not good enough to experience that simple act of love.
One day, after a terrible fight with my ex partner, I found myself feeling helpless. I was in tears and drained. While wondering around the upper west side of NYC, I saw a yoga studio. Feeling lost and depressed, I was convinced I could not survive another day in this world. I decided to just walk in that studio and take a class. I wanted to shut my mind for just a couple of hours and escape from the life where I felt trapped.
After that day, I started to feel the need to go back to that class over and over again. Soon, the physical benefits turned into emotional relief. Through the movements of my body, I started to establish a relationship with myself and I started to hear the voice of my soul. Eleonora, the warrior, allowed Eleonora, the vulnerable, to start talking. Soon, the two started to dance together. I started a deep conversation with myself. Tears started to flow, and I allowed them to just fall. I started my journey of forgiveness. Yoga became my happy place.
My mat became my sanctuary, and it still is. My mat is my shelter, my point zero, and my foundation. My body became the instrument that played the melody of my soul. My pain became my compassionate teacher, and I understood that if my practice is my sanctuary, then my body is my temple, and my broken heart is the core of my strength.”
“Yoga helped me connect to the present and let go of the pain of the past.
I became so strong that I could not only stand on my hands, but I was able to walk away from all the sadness I was living in. I ended the abusive relationship that I was trapped in without getting back into it, and more than everything, without feeling lost. I understood that yoga had changed me and helped me became stronger. I wanted to share this with people.
I started to feel the need to not only teach yoga, but also to use it to bring awareness to a topic that too often is kept in silence: domestic violence. I have created a series of events called Ode to the Moon.”
Lessons off the Mat
When students leave her class, she hopes they walk away “feeling like the just danced on their fears for 75 minutes and that they overcome something while flowing and breathing on their mat.”
Her class, Shakti power flow, is all about your foundation, your core. If your foundation is strong, you can bloom, on the mat and in life as well.
This makes perfect sense, considering her website is called, Embrace and Bloom.
Ode to the Moon in Eleonora’s words
The Ode to the Moon Project started as a series of event created to raise funds and bring awareness to the issue of domestic and sexual violence.
My goal is to inspire those around us to step up, get involved, and motivate the yoga community as a group into action, spreading awareness and cultivating compassion.
My mission is to give the victims a voice that will be heard, offer a clear path to reach out for assistance, and wash away the shame often attached to this issue.
Ode to the Moon Project is now going on tour with six dates all over New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and ITALY.
On top of this, we are now launching a campaign called Breaking Open: BREAKING OPEN, a photographic art project to witness the journey from darkness into light.
Break the cycle of domestic violence and open your heart to the beauty of life.
Celebrate the strength of vulnerable warriors who trough the moment of their body were able to connect to the power of their spirit. A series of lyrical images and poetic words together to inspire this who are still living under the overbearing shadow of abuse to embrace their story and bloom into love.
IF YOU FEEL THIS PROJECT IS SPEAKING TO YOU, if yoga was part of your healing and you are ready to share your story please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
As if this wasn’t enough, Eleonora is also working on a 100 hours intensive teacher training that will be presented in September. It will be called the Art of Sequencing.
This 100 hours training is dedicated to yoga teachers who wants to enhance their knowledge in Vinyasa yoga, learn the basic of one-on-one yoga teaching and bring their teaching to another level. It is for students who wants to dig deeper in their practice and challenge themselves if they want to embark on a journey in the art of teaching yoga.
I was so inspired to share Eleonora’s story and her mission to give victims a voice that will be heard, offer a clear path to reach out for assistance, and wash away the shame that is so often attached to this issue. For more information, (and to find her dates and workshops!) please visit her website: www.embraceandbloom.com
We have all struggled or been unhappy at some point in our life. Yoga directs us to a path of healing, and helps re-establish trust in ourselves and the world we live in. It is a way for us to finally learn that we are all we need, and that we are worthy of love and acceptance. No matter what. If Eleonora’s story has moved you, show some love by liking, sharing, and checking out her amazing classes and workshops.