The Heartbreak Kids: Season 2.22
My name is Natalie Kleoudis. I’m a designer and art director in Columbus, Ohio. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga for the past 4 years. I grew up as the youngest of six children in Westerville, Ohio, and currently live with my husband and three-year-old son.
My late twenties were spent caring for my mother through her two-year battle with ovarian cancer, and ultimately enduring an intense period of depression and grief following her passing. My mother died three weeks after my husband and I were married. What I had always pictured being a very happy time in my life, ended up being the darkest time of my life.
My job as an art director at a branding agency, which previously felt stable and secure while I was caring for my mom, was now unfulfilling and stagnant. I was left with hours at my desk with my own thoughts. I wanted to open up my life to more things that brought me joy, so I left my job and started working for myself. Starting my own business seemed easier than confronting my grief and depression.
In my youth, art was my passion and personal outlet, but after years of working in commercial arts it no longer felt personal. The art I created belonged to my clients; it didn’t belong to me. I was still looking for something that felt like “mine.”
My friend Danielle had moved to Columbus to teach the evening program at Ashtanga Yoga Columbus, and I was initially drawn to the Mysore style of Ashtanga yoga because it had flexible hours. My first Mysore class was challenging, but not overwhelming, and at the end of class I found myself able to lie on my mat and feel a sense of peace for the first time in years.
Ashtanga allows me to connect with my mental and emotional state through a physical practice. Yoga has taught me to gently recognize what’s going on with my inner self when my first instinct would be to avoid it. It has helped me to keep a connection to my own well-being through life’s changes, including pregnancy and motherhood. Over time, it has helped me to foster a true sense of inner calm.