Welcome to our blog. Here is a online resource for yoga topics and events at Seva Power Yoga.
(Our first post is from the lovely Ashley Kole, a senior Journalism major at Immaculata University. Ashley interviewed me last year shortly after Seva Power Yoga was born.)
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This quote, the brainchild of spiritual leader and Indian revolutionist Mahatma Gandhi, is one of those grand ideas with which many have become familiar, yet few know how to act out. In all honesty, it’s a daunting task to enact adjustments on behalf of all humanity through one’s own self. Yet, after time spent reflecting on these words put forth by Gandhi, one begins to understand it’s more an invitation than a challenge.
Let it be known that if the universe included a responder, si vous plait in its metaphorical invitation, you could bet that Colleen DeVirgiliis accepted.
About ten years ago, DeVirgiliis attended her first yoga class at a local gym. She remembers how she “had been hearing more and more about the benefits of yoga in print and on TV…[and] was curious.” Her interest in the Eastern exercise has led her to unexpected challenges beyond the new ones of the physical realm. Just a decade since her first class, the registered yoga instructor DeVirgiliis now performs the role of business owner of Seva Power Yoga in West Chester.
Opened in September 2010, Seva truly embodies a yogic message for the masses. DeVirgiliis intentionally chose the Sanskrit word meaning service for the business name. “Teaching yoga has always been about service to me,” she explains. “At Seva, my intention is not only to create a space for yoga classes but to develop a studio that gives back.” The studio holds many donation-based classes for students, supporting the concept that the participant pays what they deem appropriate (and more financially important, paying what they can afford) to benefit Seva. “It is my intention to keep the studio simple and costs low. I am hopeful that students in the area will find an oasis at Seva.” In addition to this, DeVirgiliis stresses community involvement through her business. “We hold special events to raise money and awareness for various local charities. Our events have raised money for Brain Tumor Research and The Salvation Army. Our December event will raise money for The Crime Victim’s Center of Chester County.” Through Seva, DeVirgiliis is able to unite her passion for the practice with greater communal benefits.
Clearly, the practice of yoga goes beyond mere exercise. “Initially, yoga was part of my physical routine but it quickly became so much more. I found the … practice challenging but what I loved most was how amazing I felt after class. The great sense of calm was lasting long after savasana was over.” One can almost read her warm smile when she writes, “I also realized that a lot of the stresses in my life were created by me.”
Using yoga as her means, she eventually found her version of peace during what she reflects back on as a strange and “transitional time.” She recalls how she felt out of place until yoga gave her an outlet: “I was considering a return to the workplace after raising kids for ten years. I had a part-time job that I didn’t really enjoy. Most of my free time was spent exploring yoga---different classes, teachers and eventually yoga studios.” Her brave dive into the world of downward-facing dogs, sweaty yoga mats, and intimidating physical challenge seems a manifestation of her inner desire to break free from her somewhat stagnant lifestyle.
Her transition from practicing on the yoga mat to instructing in front of the room was not intentional. “Two years into a fairly serious practice, I enrolled in a 200-hour teacher training program. Initially, I was overwhelmed and nervous. Many of the other students had experience teaching. My intention was to deepen my own knowledge and yoga practice. I didn’t really see myself as a teacher. The whole process was an evolution for me. With knowledge, I gained confidence and knew that teaching yoga was my path. I had grown so much and knew that I needed to share this with others.” Though she describes the training process as “fairly intense” and has her fair share of less-than-ideal classes (“One of the first classes I taught was at 6 AM. I remember that I had a very bad case of poison ivy!”), she can address the influx of change and benefits that the process allowed her.
So, when asked what some of her favorite quotes are, DeVirgiliis mentions the famed aforementioned line by Gandhi. It only seems fitting. Her yoga practice has extended beyond the boundaries of any standard-length yoga mat. Her own life acts as an example of how one person can change their lives, influence others, and slowly inspire growth in a community as a whole.