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Conversations with the Inspiring Tonia Nealey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tonia Nealey.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tonia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I was about 7 or 8 years old my home went from quiet and carefree to angry and loud pretty quickly. I spent a lot of time out of the house or hiding in the closet to get away from the scary feelings, the loud voices. One day we all got in to the station wagon and took what felt like the longest, quietest drive ever. We arrived at a building with long corridors and neutral colors. My parents spoke to someone who looked like a doctor and then one family member went through a door, one of those big, solid doors with the small glass rectangle. I watched it closing and heard this resounding thud and lock clicking into place. We turned around and left, but not all of us. One person stayed there.

I didn’t know it at the time, but we had gone to a rehab center. All the anger, the fighting, the crazy was related to what my family member was going through, but we never talked about it. I was left to interpret it, and figure out my feelings about it all, on my own. In my 7-8 year old mind this is I was convinced of: if you are bad you go away, and we don’t talk about out feelings or scary things.

I learned very quickly that being the “good girl” was helpful. I didn’t bother anyone with my emotions. I stuffed a lot of them away. I was a people-pleaser and yet kept people at a distance because I didn’t like emotional conflict or not knowing what to expect from someone. Over time, avoiding my feelings and craving connection yet not wanting to get to close led to some not great habits. I developed an eating disorder to physically stuff away from my feelings. I was in an abusive relationship for a time because I didn’t feel like I deserved any better. I didn’t feel good in my own skin. I didn’t like myself very much. I didn’t know myself very well at all.

When I first found yoga, I finally found a space where I could feel comfortable in my own skin. I learned to sit with myself. I learned what it meant to notice; to notice when I felt hungry or tired, to notice when I felt my breath, to notice when I emotionally felt something. I learned to notice the thoughts in my head, not hang on to all of them as truth, simply to become aware of them. I learned to notice the negative self-talk habits I had, the feelings that would lead to my bingeing and purging, and then I learned slowly that I didn’t need to do that anymore, that I could sit with those emotions, or talk to someone about them, that they wouldn’t stay forever. I learned to trust my body and over time to feel at home in my body. I learned to reconnect to my body, manage my mind stuff, and tap into my soul.

A Life That Glows grew from this experience. I help women move from feeling disconnected from and unhappy in their bodies, and stuck in their heads with critical or judgmental thoughts, to feeling at home in their bodies, connected to their heart and intuition, and able to create a positive self-talk soundtrack through a combination of yoga, pranayama breath work, meditation and thought work.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Any passion worth pursuing has its struggles. One of the beautiful things about yoga is that often our karma (the events or situations in our lives) becomes our dharma (our purpose for being here). All the struggles I went through personally have brought me to a place where I can help other women in a way not everyone can. While the road wasn’t easy, it taught me a lot and eventually brought A Life That Glows into reality.

I also had a pretty big learning curve when it came to entrepreneurship. I had no background in owning or operating a business, no idea when it came to marketing, networking, advertising, and the like. I’ve taken courses to fill in the gaps and am still learning as I go. I’ve learned to lean into my strengths, ask for help when I need it, and not shy away from learning new things.

For any woman starting their journey, or anywhere in their journey really, it’s all too easy to get caught up in what you don’t know or what you feel you won’t be successful at and let that steer you away from your dreams. Take time to listen to your heart. Trust your gut feelings. Don’t spend too much time stuck in your head. Talk to your brain more than you listen to it. Stand strong in what you’re good at, what comes naturally to you, and know that you can learn the rest or ask someone to help you. And, if you are a mom or think about becoming a mom, give yourself a LOT of grace. There are only so many hours in the day. Your timeline might be changed, but the direction you’re going doesn’t need to.

What should we know about A Life That Glows? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
A Life That Glows is a combination of yoga and holistic health tools that you helps create a life that truly glows, as you define it. I am passionate about supporting women in their journey and focus on breaking down the limitations we commonly put on ourselves and each other: negative body image and negative self-talk patterns, I do this through psychology-informed yoga, pranayama, meditation, thought work coaching, and doTERRA essential oils.

I teach in-person yoga classes, private sessions, group workshops and most recently, I’m creating an online yoga membership community just for women who want to move from feeling uncomfortable in their own skin and stuck in their heads to feel at home in their bodies and empowered to make the changes in habits and thoughts that lead to big transformation. Since body image concerns can start really young, I’ve created an 8-week program for middle school girls. This will be available Fall of 2019 to any local middle schools or upper elementary schools. I work individually with girls and women working through eating disorder recovery and physical or emotional abuse situations to help them become reconnected with their bodies and their emotions. I also help women take a natural approach to support their physical and emotional health needs by integrating essential oils into their yoga practice and daily life.

I am most proud of the lives I get to change by the yoga I teach. There are a lot of good yoga teachers today, and a lot of yoga studios to choose from. What sets me apart is my focus on the issues specific to girls and women. Yoga is about the union, with ourselves and with others. I truly believe women evolve in a relationship. Not that we can’t do it by ourselves, but when we are supported, witnessed, heard, and share our stories and experiences, we not only help others with their struggles, we come to have more compassion for our own. I also believe that when we are deeply connected to our bodies, our intuition, when building our emotional capacity, and manage our thoughts, when we are aligned body, mind, heart, and soul, we truly glow from the inside out.

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
My mom, for sure. She was the kind of person that could walk into a room and come home with twenty new friends. She had this ability to really connect with people. She taught me a lot about compassion and how to love fiercely. Our home was always open to anyone who needed a bite to eat or a place to stay. She also taught me a lot about courage and the power of positivity. She passed away in 2007 from breast cancer after fighting it twice through chemo, radiation and a mastectomy. But she kept going, kept trying, even when it was at it’s ugliest.

I’ve met a lot of really inspiring women over the years, women I’ve met while traveling who are exploring the world on their own, who have become authors, women have taught classrooms of children to think differently and achieve more, who have built businesses and loving families, women have survived intense traumas and created positive change in their lives. They have all shared bits and pieces of their lives with me that left imprints of inspiration.

Pricing:

  • Private Yoga Sessions $75 per hour (packages available)
  • Embodied Glow Online Yoga Community $37/month (Founders Rate)
  • Holistic Health Consultation Free

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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