Audrey’s Yoga Experience
19 years old
When we moved to Tennessee, I wanted to continue taking ballet so my mom found me a ballet studio. I took 5 years of ballet and enjoyed it. I had recitals with different dresses and learned new dances with new music. Ballet was a lot of fun; however, one day when I came home I said to my mom, “this is not what I need to be doing, I am not getting this - I’m not learning anything. I need something else.” So I dropped out of ballet and started searching. I tried gymnastics class; it was too hard. I was looking for an activity that I could do for the rest of my life. One day a friend recommended Mountain Yoga & Healing. I tried it and I love it.
I enjoy the practice of yoga because you can exercise at your own pace. It strengthens your body. You can break a sweat just as easily as you can play baseball, soccer or basketball. I’m now able to do a handstand. I have never been able to do a handstand in my life. I am so happy to learn all these fun and challenging poses. Yoga is a very good activity for me and I plan to practice yoga for the rest of my life.
Yoga has made me aware of so many different things in the world and my body. I’m so much more open to new things now. My body is more flexible and limber. Yoga has given me more confidence within myself to know I can do things on my own. I don’t know any other place I would rather work with my body than at Mountain Yoga & Healing.
I’ve been a runner for years, but I felt like I was no longer getting a good workout. I pushed myself to run more, much more. It started to wear on my body. My knees hurt the worst, so I would quit running and start back when the pain went away. The knee pain would soon return, and I would have to quit again. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of painful exercise. I decided that I needed to change my workout, so I cut back on running and started yoga.
The studio is a welcoming place, and all the students are accepting and friendly. I felt comfortable from the start. Donna Marie is encouraging and an amazing teacher. She really understands the body and makes sure that everyone gets a challenging yoga experience.
My knee pain has gone away completely, and I am much stronger. Yoga gives me a challenging exercise that greatly improves my strength and flexibility. Yoga will always be a part of my life.
Morgan, Age 16
In high school I used to dance, primarily ballet; and if you know anything about dancing you know it is VERY hard on the body. After moving to Maryville for college, dancing fell by the wayside and I didn’t really pick up any physical activity to take its’ place. I got engaged, graduated, thought things were moving right along just fine… and then everything turned upside down. Long story short I broke off my engagement, moved out on my own for the first time ever, and found myself slipping into a pretty terrible depression. I’d lost everything I’d grown to know; the comforts of having someone always around, the joys of planning a family, the added responsibility of another person, not to mention the debt I’d racked up- emotionally and credit wise. As I got more depressed I realized that I was blaming everyone but myself. I was taking very little, if any, responsibility for the events that had lead me to where I was. I started to realize my attitude was not going to help me and even worse I noticed that I’d picked up bad habits that I saw in my mother… habits I never intended to pick up and did not want to make permanent.
I decided I needed to do things differently- completely differently. My whole life I’d done things the way I’d seen my mother do it. I’d never tried any other way, so how was I to know what worked best for me? I needed to start from scratch and really learn who I was, where I was coming from, and where I wanted to go. So I asked a friend if she knew any good yoga teachers. I didn’t know the first thing about yoga but I knew it provided mental and physical strengthening and that was what I needed. My friend referred me to Donna Marie and I was in the first class available.
After my first class I talked to Donna Marie and told her a very short, vague version of my situation and asked if she could recommend any books for me to learn more about yoga or how to deal with what I was going through. Without hesitation she pulled Eat, Pray, Love off her shelf and as I read through it I realized she’d hit the nail on the head perfectly! That book was exactly what I needed. On top of that, every week her theme of the week seemed like she’d picked it specifically for me. Her words, advice, and guidance helped me realize that things weren’t as bad as they seemed and that I had a LOT to be grateful for. She helped me realize that taking time out for ME isn’t selfish but rather a very important thing if I want to be able to do for others. She taught me how to honor myself exactly as I am and to be in the moment vs living in the past or future. Aside from the uplifting stuff, she also taught me life isn’t always perfectly balanced and that it will always take work to try to keep it as close to balanced as possible. Likewise, she made me realize that acknowledging the dark/negative things in life (the things we try to push out of our minds and not deal with) is just as important as acknowledging the light/positive things. It helps create the balance. And so while I was looking straight ahead and being as positive as possible as I moved forward out of the hole I’d dug myself into, I realized I had to deal with the things that had gotten me there in the first place. I had to bring them into the light, however unpleasant they were, face them, work through them, and choose to heal and move on from them. And through yoga, that is what I did.
While my mental side was working hard, my physical side was working just as hard. With a dance background I thought yoga would be pretty easy for me and that I wouldn’t have to work quite as hard to be “top of the class.” But yoga counteracted almost everything I’d learned in dance. Instead of turning out and keeping everything straight I had to turn in and keep my knees slightly bent. And there was no “top of the class” to strive for because everyone was working for their own personal gain, not in competition with the person next to them. And it didn’t matter how sweaty I got, or how my hair looked, or how much my gut hung out in a pose; there were no mirrors and no one was watching, critiquing, or comparing me. I was there for me and me alone and I didn’t feel like I needed to impress anyone. My class was filled with women and men of all ages, shapes, and sizes which inspired me even more. No one was any better or worse than anyone else. Over the course of 3 years I have improved injuries I’d gotten from dancing, I’ve done poses I initially could only dream of doing, I’ve gone outside my comfort zone and been amazed at what my body is capable of, I’ve grown physically and mentally stronger, I’ve learned how to handle things in a way that works for me, and I’ve corrected most of the habits I didn’t like when I first came to yoga. Even when I’m in a situation that could easily kick those old habits into gear, not letting them surface and using what I’ve learned in yoga not only transforms the outcome of the situation for me, but it also completely changes the reactions and outcomes of the people around me. It is amazing how it works. I’ve even seen a change in my mother! She even comes to Saturday morning yoga class with me every time she visits. I do slip up every now and then, but Donna Marie reassures me it is to be expected; we are only human and if we can recognize our slips and actively work to correct them in a positive manner, we are on the right track. We all have choices and we can choose to live in pain mentally/physically or we can choose to be happy and pain free.
Today I am in a much better place emotionally, mentally and physically than I was 3 years ago and I owe it all to Donna Marie. Before I met her I was worried that I'd have to do all the work on my own because, as a yoga teacher, I assumed she'd be all high and mighty and perfect and be more of a teacher from afar, unable to really connect with what I was going through. After that first class I realized I couldn't be more wrong. Not only did her studio feel comfortable to me as a newby (no clicks among the other students, but instead very inclusive), I quickly realized she was very capable of understanding what I was dealing with. Just like her students, she hadn't come from a history of yogis or an environment that cultivated the peaceful/spiritual side of her. Instead she went through crap just like every one else, probably much more than most. That background makes her strong, understanding, and helpful to her students no matter what they bring to the table. If she hasn't been through it, she's been through something similar or worse, and if she can overcome it, anyone can. Her studio is a haven from the pressures of the outside world and has helped teach me how to be open minded and find peace in anything that comes my way.
Beginning yoga is one of the best choices I could have made. I have not only benefited physically; but also, mentally and emotionally as well. Being a shy and self-conscious person I was a bit nervous about starting classes. However, Donna Marie made it very comfortable. I never felt embarrassed or like I was doing something wrong. She is encouraging and makes you feel welcome and at ease. She has wonderful energy and is always there to help and assist you in all ways.
I’ve suffered with chronic upper back pain for over ten years. My right shoulder was visually 1-2 inches lower than my left when I begin yoga classes with Donna Marie. I’d been to many doctors and physical therapists with no luck and decided to face the fact that I would be in pain for the rest of my life. Since practicing yoga the pain on the left side of my back is practically gone and my shoulders are even with each other.
I have become more aware of my body and posture and take the time to stretch when needed during my day. I have also become stronger and am able to hold poses that I didn’t think I could. Also, now I can do physical things outside of class I didn’t think I could even if it has nothing to do with yoga.
I’ve taken the lessons she shares in class and apply them to my life. I, as well as others, have noticed a change. Donna Marie has taught me to be open to new experiences instead of shutting everything out. I remind myself of these lesions as I continue on my journey in life.
When I started yoga three years ago, both body and mind were out of balance. Donna Marie is a caring, gifted and special teacher. The environment she creates is safe, accepting and loving. As I mark each year, I notice many changes in my body - more flexibility, balance, and especially strength. Yoga takes you on a journey into the mind as well, and lands you in a new world of loving yourself, your body and your life. Donna Marie has truly changed my life!
~Laura, age 35
I began taking yoga with Donna Marie only 3 weeks after I completed treatment for stage 3 breast cancer.
After 8 months of surgeries, chemo, and radiation, my body was left with chronic aches/pains, fatigue, and weakness I had never experienced before. I knew that I needed someone to teach me how to not only rejuvenate my body, but also my mind and spirit. I am glad to say that yoga with Donna Marie has done just that. Now, 2 years later, I have gained back my strength, flexibility, and stamina, but most importantly I have learned how to listen to my body and how to live in each moment. Yoga is now, and always will be, a part of my life because in my mind, it is a huge part of why I am cancer-free today.
Misty Williams 2011
I have taken yoga with Donna Marie for more than five years. I began as a way to find mental calmness and to have a little "me" time. I have been pleasantly surprised with the changes in my body. I am stronger and more flexible since taking yoga.
In addition to the physical workout, yoga is my time to reflect, look forward, and to appreciate my life and my body. I often find myself looking at my body in a pose and I think how much I love my legs, hands, etc. Yoga has done wonders for my confidence
I am very happy with how far I've come and I owe it to Donna Marie. She offers a welcoming and non-competitive environment. She encourages each person to develop at his/her own pace. She challenges you without making you feel pressure to achieve the perfect pose. Donna Marie is the reason I've taken yoga once a week for five years.
A few years ago my daughter told me she wanted to look like me when she grows up. She said that I am not too skinny and not too big. She said that she wants to have a "strong yoga body". This is the best testimonial I can think of for yoga in general and for Donna Marie in particular.
Tanya, 35 years old
Yoga has transformed me in so many ways. I've grown in strength, flexibility, and peace Of mind. My body and mind crave Yoga live people Crave chocolate. I feel like I'm growing younger with Yoga instead of older. I've had many yoga teachers over the years. Donna Marie Truly inspires me. She is very caring, compassionate, And teaches from the heart. Each week she teaches with A theme to challenge me and to contemplate in thought. I really love that Yoga is not competitive. I've learned That my body and mind can do much more than I ever believed.
Holly Jackle, age 46
I have been a student of yoga for over 10 years. I can honestly say that I have learned more in the past 10 months with Donna Marie then I did all those years. Her focus on correct alignment for poses, how to avoid injuries, and weekly themes have given me a renewed love for yoga and all its benefits. I cant go a week without her class--I am totally addicted!
As a side benefit her warm and loving personality will draw you in and make you feel right at home-no matter what level of yoga you are currently practicing.
All my best,
Suzan Miller Age 45
Practicing Yoga has increased my stability, strengthened and toned my entire body, and brought me back into balance!
Donna-Marie is a gifted teacher who's meticulous approach to Yoga is simply refreshing! As she shares her artful approach to entering and deepening poses, she is always mindful of alignment principles. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned practitioner you will benefit greatly from her instruction....
Lisa - 47
I am not a yoga person. For years my doctor suggested that I try yoga to help with pain from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and an autoimmune disorder. I took ever-increasing numbers of medicines and had several body parts removed in the quest for that "magic" cure. I sat at home day after day, resting from no exertion whatsoever, feeling more and more despondent. It took all of my energy to drive my kids where they needed to go and to keep up with the laundry.
I had an epiphany one day as my husband loaded the kids in the car to go on an outing I was too tired to attend: my life was literally passing me by. A friend had recently mentioned that she went to yoga classes taught by Donna Marie and that the studio was near my home. I set up a private lesson, but had no idea what to expect. It was not the yoga I see on television. Donna Marie was very careful with me, but she immediately put to rest any ideas I had about being a weak person.
After a few months of private lessons, I joined group classes three times per week. I have been with Donna Marie for 18 months and am off all but three of my medicines. My pain is gone, and I have muscles! I always feel better, both mentally and physically, when I attend yoga. My life perspective is brighter because I feel better, and I am now trying other new things in my life. Yoga didn't help me. Donna Marie Vigilante helped me help myself.
Jackie Fox Palmer
MHS Class of '78
I would whole heartedly encourage anyone who has thought about trying out yoga to take one of Donna Marie's classes. Yoga has wonderful physical and mental benefits but it is very important to practice good alignment. You need a teacher who will help you perform the poses correctly and according to your ability however your body responds. Donna Marie pays attention to her students and keeps her class size small. She makes you feel comfortable to focus on your own personal progress and to not compare yourself to others. I have been amazed to find myself doing a pose at the end of a six week session that I thought was "impossible" at the beginning of the session. Donna Marie makes this possible with small steps weekly to prepare you. She also always encourages everyone to keep their sense of humor around and be happy and positive for what you can do. I have really enjoyed meeting my fellow classmates also.
On a personal level, yoga has changed my mind and body in subtle but deep and important ways that permeate throughout my daily life and give me peace and focus. I hope you will consider starting to practice yoga.
Laurie, age 46
City: Maryville, TN
A dear friend and fellow equestrian recommended Mountain Yoga & Healing to me. I always perceived that yoga would help me build core strength and suppleness that would help my riding; my friend's physical fitness and riding ability solidified that perception. It has now been two years since I first began practicing yoga under Donna Marie Vigilante's tuteledge. Even though I only go to the studio once a week, I am so much stronger and more supple than I was before, and my riding has absolutely benefitted from my yoga practice. But I have benefitted in so many other, unexpected ways, too...
JOINT HEALTH! Many of us work hard to take good care of our aging bodies by eating right and exercising. We focus on weight-management, cardiovascular health and strength-building. But sometimes we do these things to the detriment of our joints. Few of us know what to do to promote healthy joints. Those who have discovered yoga know what to do!
I never considered that yoga would help me improve my body alignment as it does. I've also learned poses that actually stimulate the production of fluid to my joints. Donna Marie also takes a personal interest in her clients; for me, that personal interest allowed her to discourage me from engaging in activities that would be damaging to my joints. So I now feel equipped to take good care of my joints as well as the other aspects of my physical health.
EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING: Okay, so I've read Eat, Pray, Love; I know that yoga and meditation generally go together. But I've learned from Donna Marie that emotional well-being can be achieved through other means besides just meditation. She incorporates simple messages into every practice - themes that challenge the practioner to look at the world differently. The themes are always relevant and meaningful to every single member of the class; Donna Marie shares and encourages sharing of real-life scenarios where the messages can be applied.
In addition to the emotional themes that she incorporates into every practice, Donna Marie also offers personalized, one-on-one support to her clients - hence "Healing" in her studio's name. Through her gift of reading body energy, Donna Marie helps her clients get to the true core of what may be troubling them. From there, the journey towards emotional well-being commences; for me, a simple shift in perspective has made a tremendous difference!
DEAR FRIENDS: I have been enriched by the wonderful ladies and gentlemen of all ages and all walks of life whom I've met at Donna Marie's studio. We can be different in so many ways but we're bonded together by our common commitment to impoving our overall well-being. It is reassuring to learn that others face the same physical or emotional challanges that I do. It's also wonderful to inspire and be inspired by others. The warmth and encouragement that I receive from Donna Marie and all of her clients is part of what keeps me going back to her studio week after week. I feel that I am on a journey with a family who loves and cares about me, just as I love and care about them.
Vivian age 46
“ I have never had a way with words, but here it goes...
Today in class our word for the day was "Love", which is another thing that I have never been very good at. My entire adult life has been riddled with sickness including Fibrom-yalgia, IBS, allergies, asthma, and insomnia. I have panic and anxiety disorder. Over half of my income in my lifetime has been handed over to doctors or therapist trying to "Fix" me. I finally found a wonderful physician that suggested that I try Yoga. One day while driving, I noticed a sign “Mountain Yoga and Healing". So I decided to call once I returned home. I spoke with Donna Marie; she suggested I start with a few private ses-sions since I had never taken yoga and was in a lot of pain. When I came to Donna Marie, I was a real mess! I was a chain smoker in very poor health. I had had bronchitis for several months, and was experiencing daily panic attacks. Even though I had never taken Yoga, I just knew that she was not your typical Yoga instructor. So I knew right away that we were a good fit! Donna Marie showed me compassion. She showed me that she really believes in what she is doing. Together we are finding the tools that work for me, to heal me. She works one on one with all her students, because not all are the same. Each and every one in her class has their own special needs. She takes time in each class to ask each student if they have a special need, or a certain ailment that she may need to address. My Love tank was empty, and my fear tank was overflowing when I walked into this studio. I made an appointment with hypnotherapist Karen Perleoni, who also works out of the studio, to help calm my anxiety. I have been attending classes with Donna Marie on a weekly basis. It’s now been 8 months, and I have moved from beginner’s class to a beginner’s step-up class. I have minimal flare-ups of Fibromyalgia, my bronchitis has disappeared, and I have my anxiety under much better control. I have also stopped smoking cigarettes. Mountain Yoga and Healing has helped me to put a plug in my fear tank. Thank you to my fellow classmates for all of your encouragement. My love tank is starting to fill. Now I just can't wait for my appointment with Melissa Garland for my reflexology session!”
As a previous marathon runner, I resisted taking yoga for many years because I didn’t think I would get a challenging workout. When my arthritic knees finally precluded any more running; I took the recommendation of a friend and tried a beginner’s class with Donna Marie. I have been with her for 5 years now and feel like am in the best shape over all that I have been in since my 20’s. As a physical therapist, I recognize the instruction Donna Marie provides is spot on in terms of alignment, core stability and joint protection. She tends to my spiritual health as well by incorporating a talk with a theme focusing on emotional psychological and spiritual issues into each class. I am very happy to be a part of the Mountain Yoga and healing family and I recommend the studio whole-heartedly.
Mary, Age 57
My years of yoga classes with Donna Marie at Mountain Yoga & Healing are incredibly positive for my body, mind and spirit. I came seeking only physical, however, I have received much more. It’s like I’m given a gift each time I leave a practice. Donna Marie has the ability to individualize her instruction so you aren’t going through the motions of yoga asanas (poses). I am learning the asanas effectively, while at the same time learning how to protect my body from injury. She is energetically in tune with her students and offers her full self to every class. Thank you Donna Marie for making Maryville your home and sharing your healing practice with us.
Cindy Zurhellen, RN age 56
"In 2005 when I became Donna Marie's student, I had been practicing yoga for over 5 years. I was teaching a few classes at the gym, but my practice was limited to asanas (poses) and I was always injured somewhere in my body. As I began to learn the alignment principles of Anusara yoga, my poses became deeper and more meaningful. Through Donna Marie's knowledge of the body and its power to heal itself, I gained freedom from the restraints of old injuries and hurts. I am daily amazed that at age 51, I am more agile and strong than ever.
Love you girlfriend!
Donna Marie's "special" healing yoga helped relieve the pain in my body and mind within a few months. Following knee surgery, cortisone injections and pain pills barely kept me mobile. I really had doubts about pain relief, just thought the down time in the studio might give my brain a rest...however she knows what she is doing! Yoga stretches, muscle manipulation, oils, and mind release allowed me to start feeling better quickly. Donna Marie is a believer in tending to the "self" first...she knows that yoga will help and sometimes cure the body/mind. I now believe that too!
Cathy De La Cuesta
I am an almost 50-year-old diabetic, insulin dependent for the past 26 years. I’ve never had A1C test results that were consistently where they needed to be until I started practicing yoga about 2-1/2 years ago. What a difference it has made in the management of my disease, not only in the physical sense but also in my attitude toward taking care of myself all around. I’ve found that bringing certain aspects of yoga into my daily life, like using my breath effectively, being in the moment and so on, has improved my quality of life tremendously. And I am so grateful to Donna Marie for that. Not only is she a very knowledgeable and thorough instructor, she is a genuinely kind and generous soul who, in my opinion, has truly found her calling in teaching yoga.
I started yoga to add variety to my exercise and to find new outlets to relieve stress. I expected to learn yoga poses, some breathing techniques, and to meet a few new people.
What I didn't expect was for Donna Marie to provide such an accepting and supportive environment. The practices aren't just about exercise. Donna Marie sees each student as a total person and structures each practice to benefit the mind, body, and spirit.
Age - 51
Often it takes a wake up call to open your eyes to the choices you have. My wake up call took the form of my husbands battle with cancer. When I finally realized he was going to survive I took a long look at myself and my own health. I, like most women, was a doer for others always before myself. I was at least 50 pounds overweight, sounded like a 100 year old women trying to get out of bed in the mornings, and ached everywhere. Yoga had always appealed to me but my only exposure was in large health club classes. I would always feel better afterwards but during classes I would always be concerned that I was not doing it "right." Then one day a friend of mine, who had heard about Donna Marie's studio, and I decided we would try out her classes.
That was almost three years ago. What I have had gained in Donna Marie's studio has been much more than being more flexible and stronger and having better balance and muscle tone. I began looking at things from a different perspective. If I wasn't well and happy it made it that much more difficult to help those around me be well and happy. It seemed very self centered initially but in contrast it was just what my family and I needed. It wasn't long before my family would ask "Mom, did you miss yoga this week?" which made me I realize even more how much yoga helped me with life's daily stresses. Maybe it is just spending an hour a week in touch with your own self. You have to pay attention to your body and not be taking care of some "to do list" in your head in order to get really into yoga. It is hard to let go at first but, believe it or not, the world does still turn without your supervision. That do list will still be there when the class is over, I promise.
In many ways it is the way that Donna Marie conducts her classes that is so different from the other larger classes I had attended in the past. I would never really be sure if what I was doing was right. Her goal is not to get the pose "right" instead to get the pose in alignment according to your own body's ability. If some part of a pose is uncomfortable or does not feel right she is able to see and make the smallest adjustment that makes it all come together. She is a gradual step by step teacher that allows you to reach goals you never knew you had. Her classes are small, and she plans to keep them that way that allows her to observe and interact with everyone in her class on an individual basis. If you go consistently you begin to notice how much better you feel even on days you don't have a yoga class. It was unreal to me how just one hour a week made such a huge difference in how I felt. After three years so many things are different: no more groaning with aches and stiffness as I crawl out of bed in the mornings, I can reach the plates on the top shelves of my cabinets (this is a big deal when you are short), and I can put on my panties without sitting down! I really am stronger too... I still surprise myself with the things that I used to have to ask to be done that I can do myself now. And it didn't take a bunch of weights or treadmills or machines to get here....it took giving myself the gift of yoga. It has bettered me both body and soul. Thanks Donna Marie.
What a great instructor you are! It's always good to meet someone who is truly matched to their gift and their destiny. That is not to imply your getting there was inadvertent in any way. More like congrats on figuring out who you are and what a lovely way to contribute to a world full of wondrous souls, all in need of loving nourishment.
54 years old
I am a newcomer and have been attending classes at Mtn Yoga & Healing since June 2010. I have thoroughly enjoyed the classes in more than one way. In addition to feeling better physically, I am learning to feel better mentally and spiritually. I never knew yoga and and an instructor experienced in all areas could reach me inside and out like this, navigating through my life, pulling back together parts of me that I have unintentionally forgotten about down through the years. Thank you Dawn Marie for sharing your God-given talents and intelligence with others to put us back on track in more than one way. I truly believe God has sent me here to heal me and make me whole again so that I may better serve him again with confidence in the future. God is not through with me yet.
Years of back problems led to chronic back pain, doctors suggested pain management. I wasn’t getting much relief and daily life wasn’t comfortable. A friend suggested yoga with Donna Marie. I was skeptical as I was stiff and unable to bend over; however, Donna Marie showed me that I was able to do gentle stretches and strengthening moves in a way that would protect my back. The focus is on body alignment in poses and I believe this is a key factor in my recovery. I still have back problems but I am sooooo much better than I was 3 years ago. I attribute this to my yoga practice at Mountain Yoga & Healing. Thank you Donna Marie!
In only six months of following Donna Marie’s direction, I have seen a marked improvement in my posture. Years of working out at the gym did nothing to get my shoulders back or work on the bothersome dowager’s hump that I couldn’t help but notice.
My friends and co-workers think I have lost weight but I haven’t. Even my face is more relaxed. It is not so pinched and my lips are making a comeback. Also making a comeback is my butt. That is the one place that I cannot afford to lose.
I think I smile more and have more confidence.
I could go on about how Donna Marie’s talks help with my outlook on life.
I can even set goals that are attainable by practicing more under the competent direction of Donna Marie.
I am so happy and grateful for having met Donna Marie Vigilante.
-Lori Strait age 53
I started yoga with Donna Marie when I was 50. That was almost 5 years ago and this was one of the best things I've done for myself. I've become a stronger person physically,
emotionally, and spiritually.
I'm not the only one to benefit from these positive changes. The growth I've experience allows me to better appreciate the people in my life and give them more fully of myself.
Thank you Donna Marie.
I was very excited to find an instuctor who was Anusara-trained when I relocated to Tennessee. I go to a beginners class one or two nights a week and sometimes the Saturday morning Stretch & Restore, (a more vigorous class than the name implies). I had practiced in Michigan and was already sold on the benefits of a regular practice but aside from the physical (strength, flexibility, body alignment) there is also a focus on self-awareness and self-acceptance. Donna Marie does an excellent job of organizing each six week session, working on a different area of the body each session and choosing a theme for each week of the session, supplemented with personal experiences and appropriate stories or quotes. For me it is uncanny how many weeks the message is exactly what I need to hear, either as an affirmation of my experience or a gentle reminder that I am on the right path. It is very much appreciated. I always leave feeling stronger, more energetic and at peace.
When I called Donna Marie to ask about the beginner class. I was afraid that I would not be able to do yoga. I lost part of a foot in a lawn mower accident many years ago, and have difficulty standing and walking, so I felt that I would not be able to keep up. I had visions of a class full of perfectly coordinated people flowing smoothly from one pose to another, and me falling flat on my face.
Donna Marie assured me that I would not disrupt the class with my clumsiness and convinced me to give it a try. I am so thankful that she did. I have never felt out of place, at all. I learned that everyone has limitations of one kind or another, and those of us at Mountain Yoga and Healing are very fortunate to have someone who sincerely cares about our health. Donna Marie takes time with each student to make sure we get all that we can from our practice.
I have attended class once a week for two years, now. I was 63 when I started, and at that time I thought that at my age the best I could expect was to slow down the inevitable downward slide in health. I am pleased to say that my body is doing things that I would never have believed it could when I started. Now, instead of just slowing down the aging process, I feel that I am getting healthier every day. In fact, I can truthfully say that I am healthier than I have ever been in my life.
Of course, my good health is not due to just one yoga class a week, but that yoga class made me start feeling better, which made me want to do other things to care for my body, and each additional thing has a snowball effect. I just get healthier and healthier, and it all started with that first yoga class.
Louise Poe, age 65
Donna Marie is a wise, patient and experienced yoga instructor who watches each student, gently guiding us to ideal poses for our individual level. I owe Donna Marie a heartfelt “Thank You” for the life changes I have experienced since starting her Yoga classes. I have achieved strength and balance that I never thought possible. No matter how tired I am, after her yoga class I feel renewed energy and improved mental clarity. Donna Marie’s dedication to her Yoga practice is an inspiration. She has been an incredible mentor, helping me to develop my yoga practice – enhancing the quality of my life physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
63 years old
Retired Army Nurse
I joined Donna Marie’s yoga classes just over two years ago thinking I would gain a little flexibility. What she has done is help me improve my life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The individual attention Donna Marie gives each student enables me to get the most out of my practice. I never knew breathing (correctly) was so important. This yoga practice has changed my life and life is good! I feel totally blessed to have found Donna Marie’s classes. I now know how good it feels when the breathing and energy work in unison to make the mind and body strong. Thank you, Donna Marie, for being your authentic self and truly caring about others.
Carol Quinn, Age 61
When I retired from a career as a Professor of Pathology at the University of TX Medical School, I was anxious to remain active physically and mentally. I discovered what Yoga could offer me, i.e. an opportunity to stabilize my physical health and to build strength, flexibility and balance. The first thing I found out in Yoga class is that it is not for sissies. Donna Marie has been a wonderful guide to working towards the yoga goals. She watches with discernment for the individual student and coaches us to focus and grow in our poses. I will be 71 years old this year and I have the energy and posture that I would have thought impossible at this time of my life. Because of her attention to alignment and body "opening", I have more positive feeling towards myself and my life. Thanks, Donna Marie!
Jeanie McMillin VanWinkle
Townsend, TN 37882
When I started taking yoga classes I was very uncertain about whether I could do it. I have always been very stiff and inflexible (even as a young person) and thirty years of frequent bicycle riding hasn’t helped things either. I have been interested in Yoga for years but thought it was reserved for those lucky enough to be born flexible. Donna Marie’s teaching style is very adaptive to accommodate different bodies and abilities and even I was able to participate in her classes. Also being a very conservative Christian I had concerns about the religious philosophical side of yoga practice but found that Donna Marie respects everyone’s religious views and always offers up different viewpoints with respect and opened mindedness.
I have been attending yoga classes with Donna Marie for two years now; during that time I have noticed a significant increase in mobility and decrease in sever back pain; I have also been better able to treat joint pain and stiffness. These physical improvements in and of themselves are remarkable given I had the impression that I would never improve, but even more remarkable is the emotional healing that has taken place during my time with Mountain Yoga and Healing. As the name implies this practice is much more than just a yoga studio; Donna Marie gives short lectures before moving and after with helpful tools and advice to help heal the heart, mind, and body. If you are willing to work and put effort into your practice and approach it with perseverance and consistency, you will find physical and emotional improvement in your health and guidance for your spiritual journey. As Donna Marie would say “get in here and move your body” you may find after sometime it has changed your life.
Lon - 2015
Like most guys, I thought yoga was a meditation practice for girls and that it was just not strenuous enough to keep a man’s interest. Boy, was I ever wrong. After much encouragement from my wife I started practicing yoga about a year ago.
Two male friends attending Donna Marie’s class kept talking about how much better they felt after yoga and how much their flexibility had increased. After several classes with Donna Marie I realized that they were right. Having dealt with arthritis and old sports injuries for years, my flexibility is now so much better and my arthritis pain has been reduced dramatically. During class, she insures that each student is positioned correctly for each yoga pose encouraging those that struggle and praising those that excel.
Not only is Donna Marie a gifted instructor, she is a vibrant and compassionate lady. She greets you before every class with enthusiastic energy and with a radiant smile. It is obvious that Donna Marie truly loves what she does and she sets a wonderful example of how yoga can make a positive impact upon your life. I am proud to be one of her many devoted yoga students.
I am a large 51 year old man who has been a yoga student of Donna Marie Vigilante for almost two years. Before beginning yoga I suffered from bouts of chronic lower back pain and myriad other aches and pains that required me to take ibuprofen on a daily basis. Today, I no longer have to take the ibuprofen and have not had a flare up with my lower back in over a year. This did not happen over night. I had to work very hard under Donna Marie's direction to get where I am today.
Donna Marie will not get you hurt. She watches you very carefully and works with you making those critical adjustments so that you can achieve the most from your pose. Also, I tend to overextend in my activities outside the yoga studio. More than once I've limped back into yoga and Donna Marie has worked with me to help rehabilitate whatever malady that I've brought upon myself.
Women students definitely out number men at Smoky Mountain Yoga. Because of the way Donna Marie interacts with all her students it's not a big deal. In fact I actually enjoy it. Yoga isn't about what others are doing. Instead it's about what you are doing and what you need to do so that you can lead a happy and healthy life.
I am a 64 year old male. Over the years I have participated in various sports, to include playing college baseball and soccer. Also, I served 4 years in the Air Force and 26 years in the Marine Corps. During that time frame I became an avid runner and competed in four marathons and a countless number of road races. Before each run I would do a few quick toe-touches and that was the extent of my stretching. After serving 30 years in the military I rode my bicycle across the United States 4 times. Regardless of the activity my training focused exclusively on strength and cardio-vascular. Clearly, a good training program is a ‘three-legged stool’, consisting of strength, cardio-vascular, and flexibility. Of the three, flexibility is the most important in preventing injuries and it gives us the best opportunity to age more gracefully. Ironically, I was aware of this fact for years, but I foolishly ignored it.
Although it should not come as a surprise, but flexibility does not improve with age! Donna Marie spotted me limping in a gym while I was doing my normal workout program. My training program was, more or less, a tradition…UNHAMPERED BY PROGRESS!!! After seeing me struggle she encouraged me to attend one of her yoga classes. That first class convinced me how much I had let my body down. Especially, since it served me so well for so many years. As a result I signed up for 2 yoga classes each week in hopes of rewarding my body for all the good things it had done for me. Of course, reclaiming my flexibility will take some time, but the health benefits will easily justify the effort. I just wish I had started sooner.
As a side note, I began my yoga classes at the same time I started radiation treatments for Prostate Cancer. I completed 39 radiation sessions without any side effects or loss of energy, which I largely attribute to the positive energy I experienced through yoga with Donna Marie.
Donna Marie has an ‘eye’ for identifying each student’s strong points and those needing work. She is truly a master.
If guys think yoga is just for pretty women in tights, then they are missing out on a wonderful health experience. Of course, being surrounded by pretty women should be a strong incentive to take yoga.
I have been attending weekly half hour therapy sessions from Donna Marie for about four months now. initially, I was a little dubious about whether Yoga would really help me. But Donna Marie has convinced me otherwise. Her patience, and knowledge of how the body and brain work together when performing difficult movements is impressive.
I'm in my late sixties, forty plus years of laboring over a computer, and analyzing problems had taken its toll on me. This was compounded by slipping on a stairway about four years ago. My right leg, knee and foot were not functioning as well as before. Regular physical therapy wasn't improving things any more. But thanks to my sessions with Donna Marie, I'm making more progress again. I'm hopeful now that I will keep progressing and become better than I was before the accident four years ago.
Donna Marie also has a great sense of humor, which makes the process more enjoyable.
Thanks, David B. Mortensen