My Baptiste Journey began over four years ago when I attended my first Wednesday morning flow class at Urban Body Yoga. I sought out a yoga class looking for an alternative to group exercise classes that I was attending at a local gym. I was frustrated by the quality of instruction I was receiving —and the smelly environment! I had both taken and taught yoga when I was in college, and facing the seemingly overwhelming demands of motherhood and marriage, I had not practiced yoga faithfully for about 15 years.
During that first session, I was expecting a yoga class but received so much more! First of all, the class was hard! I did not have a strong body, and I realized that my body was holding me back from having a strong practice. At the time I started my Baptiste Journey, I was thin, and as painful as it is for me to admit, living with an eating disorder. I had dieted and exercised myself to a very unhealthy weight. My son had been diagnosed with a chronic illness and I had just lost both of my parents. My dad passed away from brain cancer in 2009 and I lost my mom after a long battle with addictions in 2013. So many things seemed out of control in my life but there was one thing I could control—my weight and “perfect” appearance. I wanted to be able to do chaturanga, rise up into wheel, and even hold a down dog—but I was too weak to do it. My love for the yoga classes forced me to adapt a healthier approach to dieting. I realized that I needed a stronger body to complete the JIP sequence and that I had to change the way I was attempting to control my life through disordered eating.
As my body grew stronger on my mat, I began to feel empowered off my mat. The Baptiste methodology that my teachers were peppering into my yoga classes made me realize that while my eating disorder was holding me back from a strong yoga practice, my mind was holding me back from living a strong LIFE. I read Baron Baptiste’s Journey into Power, and was intrigued. I signed up for teacher training to learn more about Baron’s laws and pathways to transformation. I learned in teacher training that I had the ability to drop my mask of “perfectionism,” allow myself to be seen, and step into a new, more powerful way of being. I couldn’t change circumstances around me, but I could change ME and MY reactions to those situations. I was renewed without changing a thing about my physical reality, I had tools to begin to shape my life. Shortly after I graduated teacher training, I began teaching yoga as an access of sharing what I had learned with others, maintaining my links to others in the “work” of Baptiste methodology, and maintaining my fit body.
A little over a year after I started teaching, I lost my sister. I can quite honestly say that the tools that I learned in my teacher training and the support of my Baptiste community helped me through that tragedy. My sister also had an alcohol addiction. She had been fired from two jobs in the space of three weeks and my brothers and I were exploring the possibility of holding an intervention for her. She went out one night, drank herself to a .38 BAC (.08 BAC is the legal limit) and ended up choking on some food at a restaurant. She was without pulse or respiration for about 10 minutes before the EMT’s were able to revive her. She was placed in a coma to try to slow any brain damage, but after about ten days doctors advised me that she was clinically brain dead. I signed the paperwork to take her off artificial respiration and moved her to a hospice center. She died eight days later. She had never opened her eyes, spoke or had conscious movement since she had choked.
During this time, I was receiving encouraging calls, texts, and cards from my yoga community. During one conversation with my teacher, Jennifer Wright, I was railing on the fact that the time period it was taking for my sister to pass away in hospice was excruciating. I was placed in the horrible position of wishing for the worst to happen—that she would die. Jennifer reminded me of Baptiste’s Law of Transformation #9: Don’t Rush the Process. Everything has a natural process, even death. Drop the resistance—which was my need to control—and let the process unfold. From that conversation on, I changed MY approach. Instead of wringing my hands, asking myself “why me” and crying by my sister’s bed every day—I began to relax with what was. I could not change this circumstance but I could change my reaction to it—and that is POWER. I spent precious time with my sister. I painted her nails and toenails. I braided her hair. I rubbed lotion on her skin. I played our favorite music and we watched 80s movies. I talked to her. I left nothing unsaid. I stepped into a place of power.
A year after my sister died, the studio where I practiced Baptiste yoga went up for sale. I bought the studio to keep Baptiste yoga in my life and in my community. I have taught 100's of Journey Into Power yoga classes and have graduated one class of awesome yoga teachers! I work with the most beautiful souls on Team UBY. I believe that Baptiste yoga empowers one with the tools to build strong lives. I know Baptiste Yoga has done that for me. ~Jamey Banowetz, Owner of Urban Body Yoga, wife, mother, sister and Baptiste Power Yoga practitioner.