TUCKAHOE, N.Y. -- When it comes to yoga, the pose begins when you get out of it, a message Gregg Loomis hoped to convey to the 130 people attending his inaugural outdoor yoga event outside the Tuckahoe train station Friday evening.
Through the event, Mindfulness Matters, the Port Chester resident and Harrison native wanted to spread the power of yoga, which turned his life around after years of suffering through depression. Also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Loomis was abusing drugs and alcohol and had even attempted suicide twice.
"I just couldn't take the pain anymore," he said, peering down at his wrist bands from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). "It was horrific. My depression was eating me alive and I didn't know how to control it. I didn't know how to cope with it."
Between 2003, when he was diagnosed, until 2011, Loomis said he was in and out of mental hospitals. With his wife, Roxanne, by his side at every step, his doctors got him on the right track. But, his road to recovery turned a corner when a friend introduced him to yoga.
The Allstate agent, who has run his own office in Tuckahoe for the last 28 years, began practicing at Yoga Haven, where one of his instructors, who he now calls a mentor, gave him some advice.
"The discipline, the mindfulness of the pose really begins when you take it with you into the world and can be that way in all aspects of life," he recalled her saying.
Loomis had also started volunteering with the AFSP, after attending one of their Out of the Darkness walks. He was eventually asked to sit on their board and offered up his idea for an outdoor yoga event.
"He did yoga and it has helped him, and he said, 'if it helps me I know it can help other people,'" said Maria Idoni, area director for the Westchester Chapter of the AFSP, who asked Loomis to be a board member. "So, we started this event and over 100 people are here tonight, which is a wonderful turnout for a first time event."
Yoga Haven agreed to help Loomis coordinate Mindfullness Matters Friday, which benefited the AFSP.
"I meet a lot of people who suffer from anxiety and depression and they don't talk about it," said Betsy Case, owner of Yoga Haven, who added she also suffers from depression. "And it's hard just to get to class, but I know they walk out feeling much better than when they walked in."
After the success of Friday's event, Loomis said he wants to do this event every year.
"I just wanted people to come and give the message about yoga and how it can play an integral part in mental health and recovery from mental illness," he said. "I was brought through that fire and out the other side to this, and I honestly believe it was a calling."
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