Healing with hot yoga

Colene Elridge has always been a go-getter, but even highly motivated achievers sometimes find themselves struggling with life's challenges.

Four years ago, Colene found herself in that position.

"I had ended a seven-year relationship and I weighed 250 pounds," she said. "I was so unhappy and I was wondering 'Who is this person?'"

When she saw a Groupon offering a discount for a 30-day pass to a hot yoga studio, Colene decided to try it.

"I needed something to shake me up," she said. "I went to yoga class 23 days in a row (taking a 90-minute session each time).

"I could feel all this stuff breaking through," she said. "In the studio there are mirrors everywhere. For a long time, I couldn't look at myself in the mirrors, but I learned how to breathe better, to listen to my body more, to love myself more and how to talk to myself."

Moving through a sequence of 26 yoga postures in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity was almost overwhelming at one point, Colene remembers. She was lying on the studio floor, thinking about quitting, when she created a mantra that she now uses outside yoga class as well.

"I said 'Colene, you are capable of achieving greatness. You are beautiful inside and out.'"

Today, Elridge, 32, takes three to four hot yoga classes each week, even when she travels. She also is a part-time customer service advisor at Sterling Hot Yoga Works on Pasadena Drive.

In addition to helping her lose 30 pounds, hot yoga has been a catalyst in Colene's professional life. In 2015, she plans to transition her life coaching business, Be More Consulting, from a part-time to a full-time endeavor.

The Georgetown resident started her consulting service two years ago, working one-on- one with clients at night and on weekends. She gets referrals from clients and fellow Junior League of Lexington members.

Being a life coach is not what Colene was planning when she decided to major in biology at Transylvania University. At a science fair, she learned about genetics and thought that might be her career path.

At Transylvania, Colene struggled with chemistry but fell in love with anthropology. She enjoyed studying cultures and learning why people behave as they do. She soon convinced anthropology professor Barbara LoMonaco to create an anthropology major.

During her senior year, an internship at the Governmental Services Center in the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet led to a full-time job as a human resources specialist for the state's Office of Diversity and Equality.

Colene is now a certified mediator there, helping people resolve problems and become better managers and better employees. She also has earned an MBA at Sullivan University.

Although she had expected to become a corporate human resources director, Colene now is building her future as a life coach who also does workshops in other states.

One of her regular clients is an introverted college student, with whom she works twice a month to plan structured study time and to increase his confidence. His GPA has improved from 1.6 when they first met to 3.35 during his most recent semester.

This year, Colene had chosen two words (instead of a New Year's resolution) to guide her. Her words for 2015 are "strength" (upper body, mental and spiritual) and "game changer."

Stay tuned.