Ellie is so small in the cavernous white studio, but her energy is not to be contested. I immediately can sense and feel it as I walk into the room—it’s calming, yet invigorating.

We start today seated with our legs crossed as usual, but in silence, only being able to hear our breathing—deep breath in and RRRAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH as we deeply sigh with our exhales. The room is full of the sound of each of us releasing the chains the world has used to bound our inner spirits. There are several rounds of this, until the black sludge of emotion dissipates into the white candlelit studio. The breathing moves into the first cycle of poses. We work our way up from the floor slowly—each pose a building block of strength until we can stand on our feet.

The poses are all physically challenging. I find that by the fifth set of breaths each pose leaves the physically challenging realm embarking on a journey through my psyche. Halfway through, I take a pause and go into child’s pose to calm my racing mind and shaking muscles. Ellie quickly comes to my side and calmly places her hands on my back and whispers to me, “We don’t believe in the child’s pose—push through your struggle until you’re elated.” Her calm encouragement brought me back into the moment and I rooted myself in my breath to push past the challenge and complete the pose. Each time I accomplished this throughout the practice, I felt lighter, as promised by Ellie.

I walked away from the 2 hour practice feeling like I was wrapped in a warm hug and filled with a white light that must have been beaming through my pores—surely the whole world around me could see my energy.