HOW BLOOM CAME TO BE
As told by Bloom's Founder, Julie Wallace:
It is said that the Lotus Flower begins its journey deep within a dark and muddy pool. As it begins its period of growth it must persevere and push its way through the mud. This grueling process persists until the Lotus finally blooms – bursting through the dirty waters and blossoming clean and glorious above it. Such is the story of Bloom.
In the year 2008 I was deep within the mud. My marriage had crumbled; I was overweight, desperately unhappy, and longing for a change. The world as I knew it was in complete disarray. At the time it felt like I might never emerge from that mud. It was difficult to see it then, but I now know that the “mud” was there to shape me; to give me strength and courage; and to accelerate me in the direction of my dreams. No matter how grueling and painful it was then, the mud would have its purpose… and I was soon about to find out what that incredible purpose was.
During this time two of my beautiful daughters, Bethany and Morgan, introduced me to yoga. Bethany was studying Yoga at the University of Colorado Boulder and Morgan had just received her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Certificate through Kripalu. Morgan began teaching yoga classes independently out of a small local Dance Studio, and it was by sheer serendipity that she chose to name her program “Bloom Yoga”. We could have never guessed it then, but that simple name would grow to become hugely significant throughout the next five years. In fact, the word Bloom would one day come to exemplify every challenge and triumph that my family was about to experience. However, the “mud” still had many lessons left to teach me. It would be quite some time, and a lot more mud, before I’d ever grow to understand the powerful significance behind the word Bloom. The first of these lessons would occur on a yoga mat.
I went to my first yoga class purely as a way to support Morgan in her newest endeavor. I didn’t have much of an interest in Yoga, and to be truthful, I absolutely hated that first class. My body was stiff and awkward, and my mind was completely preoccupied. Yoga was most certainly not for me, I declared to myself. However, Morgan needed my support, and after a little bit of coaxing from her, I begrudgingly went to a second class…. And then I went to a third class… and then a fourth… and then at some point during that fifth class the lesson hit me.
I was holding an uncomfortable stretch; my body was straining, and my breath was shallow. Just as my mind began to panic, Morgan said, “Allow yourself to breathe into the discomfort.” So I took a full, deep breath and let it out with a big exhale. Astonishingly my body relaxed, my mind calmed, and the discomfort softened. It was then that I learned the first lesson of the mud: Let go. Stop fighting. Breathe into your discomfort. And in that moment, the thick and painful mud I had felt so trapped in began to loosen.
After about a month of attending classes I was actually beginning to look forward to my yoga practice. Years of stress and pain that had been lodged within my body were beginning to melt away. I was learning to embrace the present, and with every class I felt the mud around me soften just a little bit more. Perhaps yoga was for me, after all.
It was only a few months later, that with Morgan and Bethany’s support and encouragement, I made the very bold decision to travel to India and live in an ashram while I pursued my own Yoga Teacher Training certificate. Taking that trip to India was by far one of the most outlandish things that I had ever decided to do in my entire 45 years of life. “You’re doing what?!” my best friend asked me. “It sounds like a mid-life crisis,” another suggested.
Mid-life crisis or not, I plunged ahead with my plans for India, and in the spring of 2009 I waved goodbye to my friends and family at the airport. I took my first flight into Newark, NJ where a connecting flight would pick me up and take me to India. I sat alone and terrified in the Newark terminal waiting for my connecting flight. In a moment of sheer terror I began contemplating the possibility of hiding out in the Newark area for the next 6 weeks and simply pretending that I had gone to India. My thoughts of panic were interrupted by the call of an airline employee to board. It took every last drop of courage within me to stand up out of my chair, walk myself onto that connecting flight, and leave everything and everyone I knew behind me.
Arriving in India was equal parts magnificent and frightening. Every single thing about India – from the excessive heat, to the foreign food and culture, to the minimalistic living conditions – challenged me in ways I could have never thought possible. During my first night in India I lay awake on my straw mattress feeling completely depleted and afraid. What had I gotten myself into? I wanted nothing more than to run far away from India and straight back to the comforts of home. Seeking some kind of consolation, I picked up a book by Paramahansa Yogananda that I had brought along on my trip, and flipped open to a random passage. In it Yogananda emphasized the importance of perspective in the midst of challenges. We can either run from fear and discomfort, or we can embrace it. In fact, it is often through our deepest pain and discomfort that we experience the biggest opportunities for growth, he explained. And there it was again… the lesson of the mud: breathe; stop fighting; embrace this experience; move towards your discomfort, and grow.
I drifted off into a deep sleep and awoke the next morning with the realization that I needed to embrace ALL of it. Not only India, but also every fear and doubt inside myself that I had ever run from. In this pivotal moment, I broke through that final layer of mud and began my transformation.
I returned from India in 2009, and in 2010 my daughters and I moved Bloom Yoga from that small dance studio into a 1,200 square foot studio space. We had each, in our own rights, emerged from the mud and we wanted to help others do the same. We opened Bloom with the mission to create a welcoming space for healing in our community. We weren’t the most experienced yogis; we weren’t in perfect shape; and we knew nothing about running a business…. We were just ordinary people hoping to achieve the extraordinary.
We met a lot of resistance in the beginning. People told us we were crazy; that it would never work; that we should never open a yoga studio in such an economy. But we didn’t give up… We believed in what we had set out to do, and we kept on persevering. One client at a time, our community began to grow. It grew so much that after only 10 months we were bursting at the seams and began making plans to move to a larger location.
In 2011 we moved into a 3,000 square foot space. Since then, we have expanded several times and we now occupy 10,000 square feet of space including 3 large studio spaces, a Training Center, and a full-service Wellness Center. We opened the Bloom Yoga School and began a 200 Hour Teacher Training Program, as well as a Life Mastery Coaching Certification program.
And here we are today… our family has grown to include over 2,000 beautiful yogis and friends. And still, we keep on Blooming! We would like you to know that it is your support and encouragement that keeps us striving towards our goals every single day. You are all a part of our story and a part of our family.
Together, we have created such a wonderful space for growth and healing. Bloom is so much more than a place to stretch or workout. It is a thriving community of support and encouragement. It is a place where you can confront your own “mud”, discover it's beauty, and grow beyond it. It is the proof that with courage and perseverance even ordinary people can achieve the extraordinary. Just like the lotus flower, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, emerge out of the darkness, and BLOOM.