One on One with…Yoga instructor Amy Figoli
By Wayne E. Rivet
Amy Figoli’s mid-life crisis came a bit early.
At 41, she appeared to have it all.
Silently, she was spiraling down the rabbit hole. Her growing ache of emptiness was becoming more than she could bear. A pain that was silent, but known by many. She no longer could keep the appearance of looking good on the outside, but experiencing emptiness inside.
“This became exhausting,” she wrote on her Threads of Yoga website “About” page.
Her descent continued and “became unbearable with little opportunity to recover.” So far down the rabbit hole of depression, she no longer had the energy to shift the wave that would soon swallow her whole.
“One day, she rallied and went for a walk to talk with her constant companion (goddess/god/source higher then herself) and made a declaration. ‘I can not live the next 40 years of my life the way I have lived my first 40, please help me to find my place in service, move (me) through my sadness and may I be reminded that I am not separate from you.’ Within a matter of a week, she was led through a series of coincidences and encountered her first Yoga experience.”
The following day, she made the hour drive to take another class. That evening, after taking her second class, she wrote her own teaching schedule. Amy sold her commercial business within four months to pursue the “Path” of feeling, unraveling, laughing, crying, exploring, being and not being, doing and undoing, more crying, embracing, rejecting and shedding the old, good days and bad days, habits, ease and unease and came to know the loving path called Yoga.
Today, Amy Figoli is owner of Threads of Yoga with a studio located at 118 Main Street in Bridgton. She offer’s The Path of Practice as a way of being. She share’s her offerings from a place of experience and personal journey.
“As life offers, ‘it is all the Path, and it is all a Practice.‘”
Amy is an avid reader of text and material to support awakening and raising her own level of consciousness to facilitate change. She has taken her vows in the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.
The News recently went one-on-one with Amy about Yoga and her work in meditation and self-inquiry.
BN. Some people take classes, yet you went the extra mile and became an instructor. Why?
Amy: I felt it. I knew this was is it. This practice was going to change my life. And it did. It turned me inside out and upside down. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I wanted to share with people that there is a way to end our suffering. I also have always felt my life was to be of service.
BN. For people who don’t know, answer the question, “What is Yoga?”
Amy: Yoga is the practice or Art of Awareness. It is more than a physical practice. It is a practice that supports us in learning to inquire to what creates our suffering and our unease. In order to access the mind and change patterns and behaviors and even addictions, we must bring the body along. The practice unites the body and the mind through the breath.
BN. What are the benefits of Yoga?
Amy: There are many advantages to developing a practice. The physical body becomes more flexible with a steady practice and the mind becomes less rigid. Initially, we begin to feel our bodies and work intimately with awareness and this brings forth great change. The practice ‘wakes us up.’
BN. What went into the decision as to whom you would study under?
Amy: I decided to study with Master Teachers, meaning teachers who were already well-sought-after and had at least 20 years of training, and all had studied extensively under BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois in India. I was seeking the root teachings, not the fluff.
BN. You continue to attend retreats both as professional development and personal growth. How important is it?
Amy: I continue to train, as this is a fast field of knowledge. I fully understand, in order to grow as a teacher, I must continue to be a student. Each training is humbling and reminds me there is always more to learn. I have trained consistently for over 12 years, taking several trainings a year. There are so many teachers out there now, and many with very little training, yet they are offering classes, having no awareness of how to work with the energy of a room or injuries. There are no real requirements so anyone can throw a few Yoga poses into a class and call it Yoga. This takes away from many established teachers who have dedicated time, money and extensive training into this offering.
BN. If someone visits your studio for the first time, what can they expect?
Amy: I feel the difference people notice first is the studio is silent. There is no music. Music can be a distraction. I hold a very intentional practice — meaning I am not offering a class for a workout. They can find that almost in many places. I am interested in supporting people to follow their own path. Through discipline and practice and working with awareness. This is not an easy practice, as many people want to feel good all the time. A good practice should leave one with a feeling of stability and clarity. If people become accustomed to working out and feeling good, they do not develop the capacity to meet unease. This is not life. Life is an ebb and flow. Our Yoga mats reflect our life. We learn to meet the coming and going with Grace.
BN. Is Yoga growing in popularity, and why?
Amy: Yoga is growing, unfortunately I feel in the wrong direction. It has become a fitness trend and even the ‘thing to do” and it has turned more into a social setting. The intention of Yoga was to develop the capacity to go inward and understand what is creating your suffering. Today, we see classes that offer Vino & Vinyasa — this is an oxymoron — cleanse and purify the body and then fill it with wine. I personally have a very strong opinion about that practice. I have also seen Brews & Breath, the classes are taking place in a brewery. This is called the ‘bastardization of Yoga.’
BN. What lures people to try Yoga and what might keep some people away?
Amy: The interest can be friends doing the practice and feeling better, and thus they want others to feel better to. Doctors are also suggesting the practice for those who suffer from depression or arthritis and a variety of physical ailments.
Misconception, you must be flexible. Often this is the reason men do not come. Flexibility comes with the practice and time and a willingness to not be perfect.
BN. More women than men? Seeing a change?
Amy: We still have more women then men. Men are afraid of looking bad, to be honest. It is unfortunate. In a class of 10, you will have one or two men, at most. I wish I would see a change, as I feel when we do have more men practicing, the world will reflect more balance.
BN. Do you offer a wide range of programming to meet certain needs, skill levels, etc.?
Amy: I offer an ‘All Levels’ practice, which is more physically-demanding and requires more effort of the physical body. The challenge is stay present to what is arising. The Gentle & Therapeutic practice is a very good opportunity to experience slow, gentle stretching and supports the nervous system which, in turn, supports the immune system.
BN. How did you start the chair yoga program, what does it entail and what benefits come from it?
Amy: I was asked to teach Chair Yoga in Harrison by one of the owners of the Caswell Conservatory. This is helpful for those who cannot get down to the ground and back up again. The age group has been 60 to 88. It is wonderful to witness people who are in their 70s experiencing Yoga for the first time.
BN. How has the move to the new Bridgton location worked out so far?
Amy: The move has been so amazing. Our Sangha (community) continues to grow and thrive. I am so very grateful to be on Main Street along with other wonderful local businesses, along with seeing the growth of our Bridgton.
For more information about Threads of Yoga, go to the website at www.threadsofyoga.net or call 207-650-7708.