Written by Andrea Doyle
Sanskrit scholars, world-renowned asana teachers, Eastern and Western healers. 42-year-old Jody Domerstad has sought wisdom from them all in India, Egypt, Italy, Tucson, New Mexico, Montreal, California, and destinations in between.
In reality, she didn’t have to look far at all. “I spent half my life looking for answers, but it was only when I looked within, that I truly started finding them,” explains Domerstad, a yoga teacher with a devoted following. Her agility, strength, focus, and infectious smile inspire all who know her.
After a series of twists and turns that found her under a surgeon’s knife, and in treatment for an eating disorder, she is healthier than ever and is sharing the tools that saved her with others at her latest wellness center, BecomeOne Wholeness in Lyndhurst, NJ.
Yoga is just one facet of BecomeOne Wholeness, as it is dedicated to bringing people back into connection, vitality, and in power of their own bodies. This is accomplished with the help of movement classes, mediation, sound healing, energy work, and Neurosculpting, which Domerstad credits for her swift recovery after having a brain tumor removed and the subsequent trauma the surgery caused.
A collaborative environnent prevails. “People who walk in our door are welcomed as family as they are part of our family,” she describes. “It’s beautiful to watch as everyone helps each other, realizing this too, is their space. Our family just continues to grow.”
She remembers what it was like to have a studio in a world that didn’t understand yoga. It may have become mainstream, but Domerstad hasn’t changed the way she teaches as she believes more than ever in its power to heal and make the world a more peaceful place.
All are welcome here, not just seasoned yogis. “The majority of our population has not done yoga. We get real people who aren’t necessarily in shape and who don’t know what Lululemon is. We are bringing these therapies to the masses,” she divulges.
Many who enter the studio for the first time are taken by the positive energy and feeling of safeness it emits. Domerstad isn’t surprised, as under the floor is a complex geometric pattern, a blueprint that focuses on spirit, consciousness, and divinity. “This energetic blueprint allows the body to heal innately on its own,” she says. In addition, those in her community were invited to write loving affirmations on the bare floor before the planking was installed. “This has resulted in this becoming a healing space where everyone who walks through the door is supported by these thoughts, prayers, and energy,” she describes.
Domerstad and her husband, Dan Boisits, along with business partner and friend David Reif, collaborated in creating this energetic and loving space and it was here Jody and Dan married in December. “We wouldn’t have it any other way given all of the love that lies in that room,” she gushes. Boisits works out of the studio as well, specializing in bodywork and SourcePoint Therapy.
We All Come From Goodness
Domerstad’s yoga classes focus on much more than just the physical. She starts each class with a dharma – a theme – belonging to yoga teachings that are thousands of years old, and weaves it into the class. “I use the dharmas to inspire on an emotional level,” she explains. “We all came from goodness. We all came from alignment. When we step onto our mats we are choosing to be aligned and we infuse the postures with this emotional, uplifting attitude, and the shift happens on so many different levels.”
Yoga didn’t wow immediately. She took a yoga class as an elective as a student at Montclair State University where she earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education and exercise physiology.
In order to keep her job at a fitness studio where she worked as a personal trainer and Pilates instructor, she was forced to teach yoga. She became certified to teach but didn’t fully comprehend its power until she turned to it to help her overcome an eating disorder.
Bulimic since her late teens, there were days this eating disorder would have Domerstad making herself vomit more than 20 times. She was in treatment for the disorder twice, once in a facility for more than six months. “Yoga really helped me cultivate a relationship with myself and my body. It allowed me to see the abuse that I was doing and to focus on how I felt about myself,” she admits. “I have been healed from my eating disorder for seven years now.”
After years of retrospection, Domerstad realizes the eating disorder was triggered by childhood trauma. “Yoga and meditation and the study of the scriptures allowed me to see I had a dysfunctional relationship with myself,” she says.
Montclair-based Jyoti Chrystal, a shaman and yoga teacher, became her mentor. “She was instrumental in teaching me how potent the practice is and how you can use it to heal and change your life,” describes Domerstad. Today, she has over 10,000 hours of yoga study under her belt.
In turn, Domerstad is giving others the gift of yoga that was given to her. “I don’t feel as if I am teaching. I am sharing the tools I have used to help me through difficult times in my life. The tools are not magical or mystical. It is a science that can change your life if you participate in the practices.”
These are the tools that have turned the lives of her students around as well. Paramus, NJ-based Megan Graham, who started practicing with Domerstad in 2015 and finished her teacher training in January, says, “Jody’s training gave me the tools to heal not only myself but others around me, a skill set I now want to share as a teacher, daughter, sister, and friend.”
Brain Tumor Doesn’t Stop Domerstad
Every bit of her strength and determination was necessary to overcome a major obstacle three years ago – a brain tumor. While teaching a class, her arm started acting erratically and she began to stutter. When these symptoms continued, it was determined she should get checked out at Hackensack University Hospital. It was there it was discovered she had a brain tumor.
The surgery was complicated as the mass was vascular, and the doctors had to operate with extreme care. Nicking the wrong vein could potentially affect Domerstad’s speech or mobility. Doctors believe the tumor was in her brain for at least 15 years.
The operation took six hours. While the surgery was successful, a blood clot resulted in Domerstad’s brain, and she was put on blood thinners and remained in the hospital for 30 days.
Although she was told it would take up to seven years to heal she was up and walking around the hospital room with assistance within a day. Speech/cognitive and occupational therapy helped Domerstad learn how to not only read again, but slowly brought back her short term memory. “My right arm was left very weak from the surgery and I also had to learn how to walk by myself again. In addition, I had to learn how to organize my thoughts, initiate projects, and complete them,” she recalls.
Meditation and Neurosculpting helped her heal, and she credits these modalities for helping her get off all seizure medications which were prescribed to her for the rest of her life. Plus, yoga helped her gain her balance back.
There are instances when Domerstad starts to lose vision in one of her eyes or she loses feeling in her arm or face. Not uncommon, according to her doctors. When this does happen, she uses Neruosculpting and meditation to stay calm until the episode passes.
As she recuperated, she would visit her classes to offer her fill-in teachers support as she sat in a chair. She didn’t have plans to open a studio. “David Reif who took my yoga training told me I needed my own studio,” she says. “I declined, but he was persistent telling me he would find people to support me. It is with his help that we were able to open BecomeOne.”
And her students are happy she did. Becky Noah of Fair Lawn, NJ recently completed her yoga training certification with Domerstad. “She understands the purpose of yoga for the mind and the body and because of that she teaches towards function. I have never met another teacher who has studied as much as Jody,” enthuses Noah. “Her studio is so special. It feels like home. Love, support, and healing are literally built into the studio. I feel calm and at peace when I am there. The studio feels like a new beginning, a new opportunity every time I walk into it.”
It’s a new beginning for Domerstad and the community she leads as she shares with others all she has learned. But there is so much more. “I realize every day when I wake I don’t know anything, that there is so much more knowledge out there just waiting for me.”