In June 2014, I stepped into my first yoga class at Synergy Hot Yoga in Fair Haven, NJ. Tristan’s mom had invited me and I was very interested in yoga, but I only had a home practice at the time. I was terrified because I hated gyms, group fitness environments, and I also had no idea what hot yoga was, but it sounded like it was going to be hot and being hot was also on the list of things I hated. My first day at Synergy was also Eleonora Zampatti’s first day. She was to sub the Tuesday night class for the rest of the summer.
All of the sudden, when class started, I forgot about everything else and I was completely lost in her voice. Between the strong, yet graceful, sequencing and a gorgeous Italian accent, I was swept away from everything I had on my mind, even beyond the worries of taking my first real yoga class. Everything just melted away for me in that space. Hot yoga with Eleonora became my time to face and accept all my heartbreak and worry. I was just shy of a year of being with Tristan and he was about to leave home for Berklee and I wasn’t coping well. I didn’t want to be abandoned. In coming to yoga, I was hoping for answers or an escape, but I received what I needed, not what I wanted. I was given a place where I had to face my fear and anxiety, and I had to show myself true compassion, which was so much more rewarding than hiding and running. I had to embrace there not being any answers as to what the future held for me, but being willing to accept it anyway. If the love I had was to end, at least I had loved well. Yoga became an extremely important tool for me, and part of that was meeting the perfect teacher at the perfect time.
After only my second class with Eleonora, a woman who was in class with me recognized me from the local music scene and commented on my voice. Eleonora overheard, and without knowing anything about me or if I was any good, she asked me if I was interested in providing music for a new project she was working on. She called it Ode to the Moon and, at the time, it would raise money for 180 Turning Lives around, a local organization committed to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and education, as well as providing resources for survivors in need. I was so excited for the opportunity because I always wanted to put music and yoga together. I didn’t know if it could be done, especially with my kind of sound, which I assumed was a bit large for yoga, but I was excited for the challenge.
July came around, our first event with it, and I was a bit surprised at some of the song selections, which included Eleonora wanting me to do Dream On by Aerosmith, a song I was performing regularly at the time, without holding back. Much as I suspected, she did not expect the sounds I would produce. I have a hard time trying to explain my voice to people because it feels like I’m being cocky, but at the same time, if they want me to sing at their event, especially a yoga class, I want to explain my typical sound the best I can as to not overpower anything and get us on the same page as to what I should prepare. Eleonora insisted on wanting full sound out of me, despite my efforts in trying to explain to her I do not sound like what I look like. I know I’m building up this story making it sound like a true train wreck happened, but that was quite the opposite of what transpired. I sang as I was instructed and, while I don’t think Eleonora was prepared for it, I think the process of the two of us coming together throughout the course of the class created something truly magical. I had never felt that way or done anything like Ode to the Moon in my entire life. I felt like I had found a new calling. Over the years, we’ve been able to create a really unique yoga and music experience as we’ve come to know the ebb and flow of one another throughout class, all in the name of spreading domestic violence awareness and creating safe spaces.
Eleonora was so thankful to me after our successful collaboration, and in such a short time, she was touching my heart and feeding my soul. I was just as grateful to her for giving Ode to the Moon to me. I was honored for her to open up to me about her story and tumultuous past that inspired her to create Ode to the Moon in the first place. It was hard to believe a person so beautiful and full of love could have ever been so abused. It broke my heart, and Ode to the Moon became equally my mission. I wanted to help heal everyone everywhere who had ever been hurt by someone they should have been able to trust more than anyone in the world.
Since starting this journey together, Ode to the Moon has become its own non-profit 501c3 organization. This series of classes is still alive and well today and, after over a year, Ode to the Moon is returning for our first event at the Alo Yoga Store in SoHo next Sunday! Eleonora and I are both currently rising up from the ashes and we are so thrilled to be bringing this class back to you. Without further ado, let’s introduce you to Eleonora Zampatti:
From the sprawling tattoos to her flowing Italian accent, yoga instructor Eleonora Zampatti is to yoga what the moon is to the tides. One cannot move if the other is stagnant. This is exactly the purpose that Eleonora sets for her students and classes. For every pose, there is a gentle intention. For every emotion, there is an unbiased connection. She encourages her students to listen to their bodies, find their inner voices, and rewrite any stories that don’t honor their truths.
Milano native now living in NJ, USA she is an International body movement specialist, yoga teacher, author, fitness model and founder of the Ode to the Moon project, a series of events that uses yoga, art and music to bring awareness on the topic of domestic violence and empower victims of abuse.
Of course, just as I asked my last spotlight guest, I also asked Eleonora how she practices. Here is what she had to say:
How do you practice and set aside time for your craft and individual growth?
I try to practice yoga daily, if just for few minutes. Most of anything I try to take time for myself. I live a life where I spend most of my day giving to others. Sometimes my own practice consist in hiding from others and move my body in silence. That’s why beside yoga I like cycling so much. I guess my way to take care of myself lies in the ability to move my body alone in silence so that I can truly understand not only who I am but most of anything what I need.
How do you practice taking those skills into the real world to create positive impact and foster growth in society?
I don’t really know how to answer this. I can’t define what I do for others or for society. I m a believer that society depends upon the individual and all I can do to better the world is to better my self. That’s what I try to do. Using my teaching to make other feel as safe as I want to feel.
I highly recommend you follow Eleonora on instagram here (and read those captions!), find out more about Ode to the Moon here, and register for our upcoming event at Alo Yoga SoHo here! All of the profits from this class goes to the Ode to the Moon project. Full details for the yoga class given below:
Ode to the Moon
Date: Sunday, October 28th
Teacher: Eleonora Zampatti
Live Music: Allison LaRochelle
Location: Alo Yoga SoHo
96 Spring St.
New York, NY 10012