Hello! I’m Yulia Azriel. My deepest purpose is it to help you develop a trust in the healing wisdom of your body and uncover that part of yourself that is pure happiness, bliss, freedom and wholeness. Gentle Heart Yoga & Wellness was founded with the intention to share Divine Love to help you reconnect to your sacred heart and live your life with soul’s purpose that you were born with. In the processes I will guide you through, you will learn how to accept yourself, be liberated of insecurities and judgments, and experience empowerment and freedom like never before.
As a Jewish child growing up in the Soviet Union, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. At home, I was told that I was not talented or smart. Most of my family members are super smart scientists - very rational, logical and critical people. My parents had very high standards and expectations of me. Most of my life I believed that there was something intrinsically wrong with me, that I was not smart or talented, that I was not enough...
“I felt like an outsider all of my childhood. I was painfully shy... Nature, however, was my refuge. I felt at home and alive...”
Most of my school studies didn’t bring me joy and felt very mechanical, dulling and uninspiring. Nature, however, was my refuge. I felt at home and alive while gardening, taking long walks in the woods harvesting wild berries and mushrooms. My dog Blackusha was my best friend, and companion everywhere.
The first time I felt an interest in learning was when I discovered soil science in college. Very quickly I became motivated to explore many natural sciences – geology, ecology, botany, zoology. I was eager to understand how life and the world worked. Then I discovered psychology and neuroscience and started diving deeper into understanding the human psyche, emotions, brain and neuron-pathways. My drive to learn became insatiable.
"Geology, ecology, botany, zoology. I was eager to understand how life and the world worked... My drive to learn became insatiable."
After immigrating to the United States in 2000 I became fascinated by human diversity and different cultures. I received undergraduate degrees in Biology and French and a graduate degree in Biochemistry, and whenever I wasn’t studying books I was studying from the world, traveling through Europe, the Middle East, Canada, Central America and East Africa.
"Through all of my external searches for meaning and connection, I still had not found the most important connection - a deeper connection with myself."
In my early 30’s, I discovered the spiritual depth of yoga. Yoga helped me reveal a sense of wholeness and wellbeing for the first time in my life. It helped me get in touch with the part of me that was sensual, spontaneous and free.
I gradually started learning to trust my heart and living from the deep knowing in my heart. My whole being was flooded with an overwhelming joy that I hadn’t felt ever since I remembered myself. I gradually came to realize that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me to begin with, that I was a divine child and had all the rights to be here exactly as I am.
"I started learning to turn off my critical mind... and become quiet enough to feel the promptings from a deeper place inside of me."
Change of Course
In the last seven years, I transformed from being a lab rat and a PhD candidate making drugs while feeling numb to becoming an inspirational leader and thriving sacred business owner.
I received Yoga Teacher's certification in 2010 at Amrit Yoga Institute where I studied with the world renown yogi master Amrit Desai and his daughter Kamini Desai, Ph.D.
Since that first experience of deeply touched by the depth of yoga, I continued to deepen my practice and understanding of the spiritual dimension of yoga and received Yoga Therapy, Amrit Method of Body Psychology certification in 2012 and Yoga Nidra, Advanced Yoga Nidra and 500 hr Yoga Teacher's Training in 2016.
In addition, I studied energy healing and became a certified Reiki Levels 1 and 2 practitioner in 2012, received Pilates certification in 2011 and in Gravity Foundation® Certification through Total Gym® in 2013.
Throughout the years I have been continually deepening my mindfulness-awareness meditation practice and have participated in various meditation courses and retreats, including 3- and 10-day Vipassana Silent Meditation Courses, Shambhala The Heart of Warriorship 5-level training, as well as Art of Living Happiness Course.
I have taught Yoga and Pilates in diverse environments and to diverse groups of people from a young boy with Autism to elders in their 90-s at YMCA and everyone in between including busy moms at Tibetan Cultural Center, employees of corporations such as TASUS, Smithville and Medow hospital, to teachers at various schools.