Today we’d like to introduce you to Denise D’Agostino.
Denise, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up feeling inspired and curious about the world around me. What makes people who they are? How are paths chosen? What gives me my unique personality and more importantly, how can I feel like myself, always? As I began to figure this out for myself about 14 years ago, migraines and severe allergies crept into and consumed my life. Barely being able to function in school or enjoy really anything at all, I went to 11 different doctors to try to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me. With all of these smart and modern people around, why can’t we figure out these seemingly simple health obstacles? “I’m so young!”, I thought, “How can I feel so sick?”. Along with feeling sick, some of my curiosity and passion for life wilted and I wondered if I’d ever feel like myself again in my own body. Sigh!
About 12 years ago, I became vegan. My brother had been vegan for a while and I felt this could be a way for me to feel healthy and more aligned internally. Through the amazing works of Dr. Fuhrman, M.D. and his books Eat to Live, I was able to almost completely remove my migraines and daily headaches to feel happier again! I moved to New York and began a career in the city with only small bouts of headaches and/or allergies nagging at me from time to time. I did Rodney Yee yoga videos in my room which helped me to battle day to day stress of living in the city and having a busy job.
After moving to Chicago, I began a more regular practice of Baptiste style yoga at the local studio, Om on the Range. This was the first time I had been a part of a real yoga community and it satisfied needs inside me that had LONGED to be met for years and years. Having a supportive environment to help me along my health journey made all the difference. I had to study. I had to know more about this yoga ‘stuff’ and I finished my year-long 200-hr. teacher training at Moksha yoga studios in 2015. It is here that I found the practice of Ashtanga yoga.
Under the transformative teachings of Chicago Ashtangis, Alexia Bauer, Todd Boman and Megan Drozd, I had found the practice that I enjoy the very most. While a daily, disciplined and challenging practice as it is, it puts you front and center with your own ‘stuff’ whatever that may be. I felt that spark again in me, that feeling that almost anything is possible, that was diminished those 14 years ago. I’ve been practicing traditional Ashtanga yoga for over 3 years now and began teaching around the same time. I continue the regular study of Ashtanga under master teacher, Alexia Bauer, at yogaview Chicago and hope to visit Mysore, South India someday to study with Sharath Jois. I’m so excited to teach my students what I have found and to help them along whatever path is meant for them. I’m able to offer them the idea that there is a limitless well inside of infinite possibility because I feel it in myself now.
Has it been a smooth road?
The obstacle is the way if I’m to quote Ryan Holiday, a modern stoic and fascinating philosophical writer. I’ve learned through the philosophy and consistent practice of yoga (and I guess other philosophies as well!) that it is only how you approach each situation, not whether or not you, by definition, struggle. Of course, I’ve struggled, of course, I struggle, what’s interesting and different now is my reaction to it. My advice to young women is to trust yourself, take time and take practice to know yourself or else other things (society, cultural pressure, misguided relationships) might take that deep knowledge you have of what makes you, you and what makes you feel alive. THAT is the yoga and it is a constant joy/struggle of its own.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into DAGyoga story. Tell us more about the business.
I’d say I’m known for teaching the integrity of yoga postures as fully as I can, adjustments, Ashtanga yoga of course and also senior-focused yoga as I’ve been teaching in senior centers for over 3 years now as well. My training has allowed me to use the yogic philosophy in a way that can suit all types and, while staying true to my needs for practice, offer others the concepts and ideas to find their yoga and health pathway. So much more to learn, however, I’m down! 😉
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
My father inspired me to explore health and well being through Chiropractic care and a personal trainer when I was in high school. While I certainly was no athlete, that certainly lit the spark for me to think about health as a feeling and something that went beyond age and physical ability. His entrepreneurial spirit and drive to make his own way in life supported me to think outside the box and to challenge myself to take calculated leaps of faith. My mother is a spiritual stronghold and our spiritual life at home set me up to surrender to a higher power of divinity that is always guiding us and listening. Her connection to nature and spiritual teachings enriched our family life greatly and allowed me to hold dear the important but sometimes more quiet parts of living. In silence can be when you discover your best guidance!
- Private yoga sessions $75 per hour plus cost of studio rental
- Corporate yoga $65 per hour
- Phone: 215-534-2310
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @dagyoga
- Facebook: @dagyoga
Trish Garcia, Midtown Athletic Club