Courtney Fitzpatrick wants you well – spirit, soul and body.
Co-owners of Verapose Yoga Studio, Courtney Fitzpatrick and Katie Hoener, are becoming known and are being sought out for their personalized attention for each client.
I had the chance to sit down with Courtney and hear more about their individualized approach to yoga instruction. “Each session, we are tuned into who is here and what’s going on in life right now,” Courtney tells me. She explains that in each class, the instructors look for ways to “address the things that are negative, or ways to flow with those things that are positive” with each of their students. “We always take the time to talk with each individual,” she says. “All of our teachers are getting feedback constantly.”
Their approach to yoga is more than simply going through the physical exercise of the yoga positions, although that is really good in itself. The instructors at Verapose emphasize the added benefit of mindfulness as well – the intentional and deliberate exercise of the mind to stretch and release its tension for health and wellness in the same way the physical positions strengthen the body.
In a recent blog, they write: “By eliminating the chatter that comes from the outside world, we have the opportunity to look within, and to find where the work towards the quieting of the mind begins. Mindfulness Meditation is founded on this idea of offering ourselves this quiet place where we can notice what goes on in the mind, with little outside influence, and to take stock, and allow ourselves to release the thoughts.”
Courtney and Katie believe their focus on personalized attention and creating a safe, unintimidating place for folks at any ability is a big advantage over large commercial classes with rigid programming. Instructors at Verapose specialize in working with people who experience limitations of one kind or another – knee and hip replacements, rotator cuff injury, recovery from surgery, chronic pain, weight issues in either direction, and other conditions. Courtney herself has mild scoliosis for which yoga has been a successful therapy.
“I have a lot of people that walk through my door that have been referred to Yoga from a physical therapist or from their doctor,” Courtney says. “They are told they need to distress and go to yoga.” Both Courtney and Katie are RYT500 level instructors meaning they have been trained beyond basic class instruction into more of a therapeutic approach to yoga.
As I listen, I wonder if I should try yoga. “You make it sound great,” I tell her, “but honestly, I’m self-conscious about my size and my lack of coordination. I’d be grunting and straining like a woolly mammoth fresh out of the ice if I came to a class.”
She laughs. “We are one of the most non-intimidating studios in the area. We work with a lot of people with body image issues. That’s how I originally got into yoga.”
Courtney told me how as a teenager she struggled with exercise bulimia. She ran and played sports to empty herself and keep herself empty to the point that it threatened her health. Her parents knew she had a problem. Friends knew she had a problem. Her school knew she had a problem. Courtney denied she had a problem.
But in a moment of crisis, Courtney was shocked into the reality of what she was doing to herself and its effect on her. It was a brutal, but necessary moment of self-realization. Yoga became her path to recovery. “Yoga didn’t open my eyes to my problem,” she explains. “It didn’t give me that startling revelation of what I was doing to myself. But after that awful moment, yoga has helped me heal and it continues to help me twenty-two years later.”
“My view on teaching yoga is every single person coming in is dealing with their own stuff,” she says. “Everybody is struggling in a specific way. So I allow my students to move in whichever way best fits them. We empower our students to do whatever they need to do.”
“We have students who are recovering from any number of things,” she explains. “It could be an eating disorder like I had, a physical illness or other chronic condition, or addiction. We provide a lot of modifications to the physical routine so that their mental and emotional state can join in and heal as well.”
“What about things like goat yoga?” I ask. “I wouldn’t want to do anything with goats or kittens or whatever.”
“We don’t do fad yoga,” she laughs. “I don’t even know what goat yoga is. We just keep it simple mainly for the benefit of quieting the mind.”
I say to Courtney, “When I hear ‘yoga’, I think eastern religion, you know, a picture of The Beatles in their robes with a guru back in the sixties.”
“Right,” Courtney replies. “Yoga once was exclusively a religion for enlightenment in its early days in America, but since those days it has evolved into what it is today which is a therapeutic exercise for the physical body and mind. There is no religion involved except what the students may, or may not, attach to it themselves.”
“Rehabilitation begins with the mind,” she told me. “Verapose is a very non-judgmental space where we strive to get people to just stop and take a break from the physical and mental demands of their life.”
“What we’re doing is building an awareness of how to hold your body, how everything feels,” she adds. “Slowing everything down and giving people a chance to tune in to themselves instead of all the clatter and distraction that forces its way in.”
Verapose Yoga Studio is located directly behind Hackney Hardware and you can learn more about them, their class times, blog and contact information by visiting their https://veraposeyoga.com/