A back injury was Erika Vilar’s introduction to yoga years ago. She refused to use the muscle relaxers recommended by her physician. She knew they would render her unable to properly function as a mom. She found that yoga provided the healing she needed; the joy it gave her was the unexpected surprise.
She turned to yoga once again when her marriage ended. It broke her heart, but she could no longer go on in the relationship.
She enjoyed yoga so much she wanted to share it, so she began to volunteer as a teacher. But she taught in unconventional spaces; she taught older ladies in a hair salon, she brought yoga to those who couldn’t afford to attend class in a regular yoga studio. Erika believes in giving. Once you meet her, you feel how big her heart is. She says yoga should be affordable to all who need it.
“I wasn’t going to be a teacher who turned yoga into a luxury!” ~EV
In 2014 Erika started to learn jiu jitsu in an effort to release anger. It was through jiu jitsu that she met her partner, Rich. He lived in Las Vegas. She was living in New Jersey. It took 3 years of long distance dating before she moved to Las Vegas so they could be together.
She was thriving as a jiu jitsu practitioner. Then tragically, after she moved to Vegas, the man who coached both Erika and her new partner in jiu jitsu took his own life. Erika’s heart was broken once again. She left jiu jitsu. The grief left her unable to be touched; jiu jitsu is a martial art form which focuses on grappling with emphasis upon ground fighting.
Last year, after multiple attempts, her ex-husband committed suicide. Being a suicide survivor is one of life’s hardest challenges. There are so many feelings that erupt; guilt, anger, confusion, unanswered questions ~ all of this makes for a very heavy heart.
When Erika tried to return to yoga for healing, she found what many others have found ~ certain aspects of a regular yoga class can be triggers for those who are healing from a trauma. The Bob Marley song that played as the class practiced reminded her of her ex-husband and the grief was only enhanced and she ran from the room, embarrassed and ashamed. Their only daughter, Sam, was named from a Bob Marley song. Sam has always been by her mother’s side and supporting her. She remembers her father as a good dad, but realizes how ill he was at the end. It was the loss of her ex-husband that led Erika to TRY.
Last year, she started to research Trauma Recovery Yoga (TRY). She liked that it is a scientifically proven method for healing. She took two TRY classes; the second one was taught by Joyce Bosen, founder of the method. There is something about participating in one of Joyce’s TRY classes. She has a beautiful loving spirit that doesn’t quit, and Erika felt that in a big way. Joyce has an uncanny ability to connect with those who seek healing; it is genuine, it is real. Joyce’s own experience with grief makes her approachable and empathetic. Erika told me it was Joyce who made her feel hopeful that she would eventually heal.
TRY was providing the healing that Erika needed. Being the giver that she is, she wanted to share it. For Christmas last year, she gave herself the gift of the Trauma Recovery Yoga teacher training workshop. She has found solace within the TRY family – we call ourselves a TRYb. She started to volunteer for TRY as the Volunteer Coordinator. After seeing Erika’s passion for TRY and her exceptional organizational skills, Joyce asked Erika to be the Executive Director for Trauma Recovery Yoga, LLC.
Sitting in a TRY meeting earlier this month for a future fundraiser, I saw firsthand Erika’s skills and energy at work. She deftly coordinated a spreadsheet of volunteers and their tasks, updating numerous columns of topics and later prepared a highly detailed recap of the meeting for those in attendance as well as those who were unable to attend.
I have participated in two TRY classes taught by Erika and came away feeling renewed and relieved of stress and lethargy. Erika gives all of herself when she is teaching. Not only are the words she is saying for the class, she is continuing to heal herself as she speaks the “I ams”, our positive self-affirmations. She tells the students, “You are not alone. You are present. You are here with us.” She feels she has found the meaning in life to be healthy herself, and to help others heal. This is what she was meant to do; this work came from the Universe.
Yesterday’s interview with Erika was emotional and filled with unexpected revelations. Our pasts paralleled in ways I was not ready for. We held hands, hugged and cried as we shared the myriad of feelings resulting from our spouses committing suicide. There are so many questions and no answers. She told me, “You don’t need the answers. You just need you.” Of her teaching, she said, “I want to be there for anybody who needs me. I don’t want to be the one who wasn’t there for somebody when they needed help.”
Erika teaches Trauma Recovery Yoga classes at the Downtown Yoga and Wellness Co-op. She will most likely be teaching a regular class on Thursday nights at 6pm, but is always willing to sub for other TRY classes, her own schedule permitting.
The Downtown Yoga and Wellness Co-op is located at 701 East Bridger Avenue, Suite 150, Las Vegas NV 89101 inside the Driven NeuroRecovery Center. Free parking is available Monday through Friday 6am-6pm in the underground garage accessed on 8th Street, and Monday through Friday after 6pm on 8th Street and Bridger Avenue.
Class schedules and descriptions, workshop information and more can be found on the website at dtlvcoop.com.