After being trapped in the 9 to 5 life, Alyssa Berman needed to find her way back to the serenity she felt when she stood on a yoga mat. In 2016, she did just that, opening Bend and Breathe Yoga in Hollywood, Florida.
Mindful Studio: How did you come to find yoga?
Alyssa Berman: My first yoga class was when I was a younger teenager. I was dragged along by my mother, who was loving her very soft, yin-based practice. I had a lot of expectations for what yoga was, and in my 15-year-old mind, this class met all of them: boring, slow and quiet. I decided there that yoga was not for me. Over the next few years, I tried other styles. Hot yoga became a practice I thoroughly enjoyed as I finished high school and began college.
I loved the athleticism of the practice, the way I could sweat out all the junk food I had consumed over the course of a week, and the fact my natural flexibility allowed me to twist and bend in ways others in the class could not. Then, I met Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga chewed me up and spit me back out. It tore the ego from my previous practice, humbled me in a way my body and mind had never experienced, and completely changed my life. Since then, the love for my yoga practice has evolved and leaves me in awe each and every time I step on the mat.
MS: What is one thing you love about yoga?
AB: In a world where the ego controls our lack of happiness, rise of self-doubt and feelings of solitude, to feel accepted and to work on oneself is pertinent in inducing a change that comes from within, knocking the ego off the ledge. Yoga has allowed me to hold a mirror to myself, to differentiate between the unnecessary, egotistic habits and the true self that yearns to rise to the surface. There is always something to learn, something to work on, something to do with a yoga practice, and that is what I love about it.
MS: How did you come to be the owner at Bend and Breathe?
AB: After college, I found myself sitting at a desk each day, looking up at fluorescent office lights, smelling my desk neighbor’s lunch waft from over the computer, and feeling absolutely trapped. I realized the thrill, joy and all-around happiness I felt on the mat was the exact opposite of what I felt day after day at my 9-5 job. My parents are both entrepreneurs, and I had the advantage of them totally supporting any life decision I threw at them. In July 2016, I decided to quit my job and work for myself. By October 1, 2016, my studio opened.
MS: What makes Bend and Breathe unique? What are you all really good at?
AB: We are unique in that we are a true community. From the beginning, I aimed to create a feeling of acceptance and togetherness. The type that makes even the most nervous first timer sigh a breath of relief when they walk through our doors. As teachers, we see ourselves not as a figure of power on the mat or a better member of society in general, but as humans simply sharing the beauty of practice with those eager to learn.
MS: What’s next for you? For Bend and Breathe?
AB: I take each day as it comes.