The Yoga Loft Storybook: Julia Taliesin

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Why/When/Where did you start practicing yoga?

The first time I can remember taking a yoga class was in seventh grade. It was at the old Marblehead YMCA on Pleasant Street, down in one of the squash courts.

The room was dingy, with yellow walls and a single window high up through which streamed a harsh white light. I don’t remember much, except I was not very flexible and super self-conscious about it (being thirteen is the worst, right?). At one point, we were asked to do some pose where we lay on our backs and put our legs up over our heads. The instructor came over and, without asking, pushed down on my legs to deepen the stretch. It was incredibly uncomfortable.

So, I walked out of that squash court deciding yoga was not for me. I simply didn’t have the body for it.

I didn’t try again until my third year of college.

I was a junior at Simmons College in Boston. Academically overworked and perpetually exhausted, it was a tough time. I didn’t really have the language to describe it yet, but I had begun experiencing panic attacks and bouts of depression as I tried to navigate classes, two part-time jobs, and a shadow of a social life.

A particularly bad week sent me barreling into my school’s counseling center. It was October, and I was set to leave the country for a semester abroad in Denmark in January. I was completely at a loss for how I was going to make it there, let alone make it through.

My therapist, in helping me manage the anxiety, suggested yoga. She said it wasn’t just a form of exercise, it was a mental practice. She thought it might be a good way to learn how to anchor myself.

So once I landed in Denmark and got settled with my host family and studies, I found a yoga studio close to campus and got an unlimited semester pass.


How has yoga changed/influenced your life?

Taking a step back, it was pretty brave to just go out on a limb and do this. I was still only working off of that initial negative experience, but I trusted my therapist and, in truth, I was desperate to feel better whatever it took. 

And I went – twice a week, nearly every week for four months. The studio I went to was mainly a hot yoga studio, offering yin, hatha, and vinyasa classes. My favorite was their warm yin class – I always left feeling that wonderful dichotomy of physically spent but mentally refreshed. It became a time when I didn’t have to think about being anywhere else, or getting anywhere, or looking a certain way. I was just a body, surrounded by other bodies, all in the pursuit of wellness.

So, when I returned home that summer, I walked right into The Yoga Loft and signed up for a student summer pass.

I loved the basics class, but my favorite classes were the slow flow and meditation classes. I had started running as another outlet for the anxiety, so these classes were a way to unwind, stretch, and heal my body and my soul. To this day, these continue to be the classes I treasure the most.

Since then, I have always found a way to be continually practicing yoga. As a professional journalist, my schedule is unpredictable, but I made it my New Year’s resolution to go to at least one yoga class a week, and I haven’t missed a week yet!


What has been your experience practicing at The Yoga Loft?

Yoga, and particularly the classes at The Yoga Loft, has taught me so much about gentleness. I am a perpetual perfectionist, and through this practice I have learned to work with my beautiful, imperfect body, instead of writing myself off.

Anything else you wish to share about your yoga journey?

As we all know, yoga is a practice, a journey. The learning of that lesson has given me the space to accept that about more areas of my life. Nobody really knows what they’re doing, right? We’re all just trying our best and figuring it out along the way.

Julie Helmes