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Everybody started somewhere. In the My Journey posts we ask an accomplished athlete / star / thought leader how they got where they are now. We hope their stories will inspire and motivate you.

In this twenty sixth My Journey post, we had a chat with SueAnn Ferrogari who is a yogi. We hope you enjoy Sue Ann's journey.
SueAnn Ferrogari
Tell us a little bit about yourself :) 

My Name is SueAnn Ferrogari. I was born and raised in New York and I currently live in Maui, Hawaii. I spend most of my free time in nature, hiking barefoot, swimming in waterfalls, enjoying the beach. When I am not outside I enjoy hanging at home where I do a lot of my art work, and make plenty of time for my personal yoga practice.

How did you get introduced to yoga?

When I was in high school the only thing that ever really appealed to me was art class. I spent half of my time in the art room and the other half of my time as a competitive cheerleader.

When I was 17, I had a serious car accident where I totaled my vehicle. After the accident I had persistent back pain and had been to a few doctors. I met with my doctor about 2 weeks after the accident, and she told be instead of sending me to physical therapy (because she knew I wouldn't go) she suggested I go to yoga. I went to my first yoga class and loved it. It came naturally to me, the body movement and the flexibility, because of my background.

For years I practiced and watched how it changed my body, but more importantly changed my attitude and view on life.

When did yoga get “serious”?

I moved away from New York and into Miami FL where I continued my practice. I was still in college finishing up my degree to become a children's art teacher, but before I finished I dropped out and moved. I was taking online classes trying to get my degree and one night while I was taking an art history test online I stumbled across this add for a yoga teacher training in Costa Rica. I decided to go just for the experience of yoga in Costa Rica. When I came back from the training my whole perspective had shifted and I knew that there was much more to learn.

I met my teacher Rina Jakubowicz in Miami and it was with her that I did multiple teacher training courses and workshops to deepen my studies. I studied with her for three years and became fully certified.

It has always been my personality to want to help other people, and through yoga have found an outlet that allows me to use my creativity to do so.

Can you share your biggest challenges ?

My biggest challenges in yoga have been self acceptance and realizing my self worth. Since I spent almost 10 years as a competitive cheer leader, competition had become part of my nature. I found that when I was practicing I was constantly trying to do better than everyone else in the room. Not only was I competing with the rest of the yoga class but I was constantly competing with myself. I would tell me self things like "If those other people can do it, how come I can't?"

That was the way I viewed my self and my practice for years before I met my teachers. During my teacher training my teacher pointed out this quality that I had, which I had never even thought twice about! I would leave post its all over my house, my car, my bag, on my yoga mat, anywhere that I was sure to see, that said things like "You Are Enough" "You Are Where You Are Meant To Be" At first I found them annoying and would fight it. But I sat and worked on it using meditation, and tools in my yoga practice to help fight my mind. I let go of the way my mind had been conditioned and was actually able to work on being truly happy with where I am.

How do you handle pressure?

I think there is a lot of pressure pushing through social media platforms. But for me this is simple. I do not compare myself to others. I have accepted that if I am doing my best every day that I have done enough. I have also accepted that even if I am having an off day or I fell off my healthy eating wagon, I am still a human being and I need to have compassion for myself. I think the best way to handle the pressures is to find humility, I find that when I can humble myself that there is much less pressure to perform in a certain way.

Can you share your thoughts on self consciousness?

Growing up, I was the kid in school that would skip a class if I knew I would have to read my paper out loud. I hated public speaking. I mean it was my worst fear. Through out my entire teacher training I knew that eventually I would have to start speaking in front of people and that was terrifying to me.

When I first started teaching I was so nervous that I would feel sick. But through constantly pushing myself to show up and teacher and going home and practicing teaching, I started to find my confidence. A little bit at a time those scary feelings went away, but it was all about pushing myself to overcome that.

I still get a little nervous if I am teaching to a big crowd or at an event, but I never let those nerves stop me from doing the thing that makes me who I am.

What was your most embarrassing moment (in regards to yoga of course ;)

My most embarrassing moment.. was probably this; Not too long ago I was out at a gala that was raising money to support women battling addiction. I was with a bunch of my other friends from yoga and we were all dressed up. As the night was coming to an end and we were all walking back to our cars the parking lot security guard came up to me and my group of yogi friends and was asking about the event. We ended up talking about hand stands and she antagonized me about being able to do yoga in a pair of high heels. I said in front of the parking lot full of beautifully dressed gala goers that I could absolutely do a handstand in my heels, challenge accepted! Put my hands down on the parking lot, kicked up, and did not account for extra hight I already had. As I immediately started to tumble over I tried to catch myself on my feet but my heels slid out and I face planted directly onto the parking lot. Everyone around clapped as I got up and walked it off. I was a little more than embarrassed!

How did yoga influence your life in other ways?

What I will share is a little more on the personal side.. My life has completely changed because of yoga. I was in a less than desirable relationship when I first start going through my teacher training. As I grew emotionally and spiritually through my training my relationship with my boyfriend at the time seemed to be getting worse. I couldn't see it at the time how horrible things had gotten. It took me a long time to finally realize that the way I had been treated for so long was not what I wanted for myself and took me even longer to realize that I did not deserve to be treated how I had been.

When I finally came to the realization and woke up, I found the strength to kick him out of my home and out of my life. After he was gone I spent months learning how to be on my own, learning my self worth.

I started teaching at a studio closer to home, across the street from the studio is a restaurant I eat lunch at quite regularly. I went in to grab my usual order and one of my regular servers asked me how everything was going and how my life has been, I told him everything that had gone on recently (because we were quite close) and he replied quickly, "I have someone you should meet".

He introduces me to his friend, and I was immediately smitten. We have since moved into a home together and I can honestly say I am the happiest I have ever been. It took me all that time going through my self practice, my self studying, the ups and downs that my practice has brought me through, but when I came out on the other side knowing what I deserve and what I am worth, I found a person who can match that.

What does your daily routine look like ?

My daily routine basically revolves around my yoga mat. I wake up in the morning and lay in bed going over the ideas I have for the class I will be teaching soon. I grab my coffee and my avocado toast and head to the studio. I teach a Vinyasa Yoga class for my more advanced students at 9:30am and then teach a Gentle Yoga class at 11am Go home and have lunch with my partner and use some of my afternoon to either go to the beach or do some art work. Return to the studio and set up my mat for self practice (anywhere between 40 min to an hour and a half) Teach again at 5:30pm Then I head home make dinner and prep lunch for the next day.

If I am not working you would find me in my jeep driving around the island looking for adventures, hiking and swimming holes.

And what about your flexibility training ? Where does that fit in ?

The key to flexibility is consistency. It is something that needs to be worked on regularly. But to keep the body balanced we cannot only train in flexibility we must also train the body in ways that will strengthen it. Since I already have a decent amount of flexibility I push myself a little further. When I self practice, I set up a stop watch and I will spend 5 minuets in poses. When I make it to the point in my practice where I am feeling open, I set up 2 yoga blocks and work on over-splits to help deepen my flexibility.

I have found that sitting in poses for extended periods of time really give the body a chance to open up into that space.

What keeps you motivated?

When I start to feel stuck there are absolutely tools that I use to help get motivated.

My first stop is always "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" - the book that pretty much changed the way I thought about everything. I read it and re read it all the time, I make notes in it and use insight from it.

I also use youtube to listen to lectures from swami's about yoga and the spiritual aspect of the journey.

I also always check out Dylan Werner's instagram account, I have had the privilege of learning from him and really appreciate his take on things. Also the way he can control his body is crazy!

What are your future plans/goals/dreams?

Future goals, right now I am looking to learn and teach as much as I can but down the line I would really love to take another teacher training program. I aspire to travel the world and teach in different countries. I would also like to, at some point, have my own studio where I would like to start a kids yoga program as well.

Any tips for passionate people starting out ?

Don't give up! Take it one day at a time. People look at yoga as a whole and find it intimidating, a lot of us eat vegetarian or vegan diets, we spend hours on our mats, we chant in sanskrit. Those things are all foreign to a lot of people. So start small, commit to 1 class a week. Eventually that one class will turn into two, and those two will turn into three. The teacher is their to guide you so if you have questions always ask! Focus on yourself, and always do what feels good in your body for that day.

Anything you’d like to share?

Instagram: @Melon_Yoga

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