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Northeast Woman: Yoga Leads Abingtons Woman On Clean Path

September 30, 2018

Through yoga, Kelly Bedford found a light in the dark.

The 35-year-old Clarks Summit resident grew up in Mount Cobb and graduated from North Pocono High School, then meandered for almost a decade as she earned a degree in history from Marywood University while fully immersed in the throes of addiction.

“I got pretty bad into drugs throughout my 20s, but had it not happened, it wouldn’t have brought me here,” Bedford said on a recent afternoon at one of her two yoga studios.

She broke her cycle of self-abuse by entering rehab, and when she got out, a friend took her to a yoga class, where she transformed even further.

“After, I had a more joyful feeling,” Bedford said. “I knew it would help me personally overcome pain and suffering I experienced.”

About a year into practicing yoga, she trained to teach it. Several of her own friends also were in recovery at the time, and she wanted a way to give the gift of yoga back to others.

Bedford opened Mission Yoga in downtown Scranton seven years ago, where she kept the prices on her classes low so that they would be accessible. In March of this year, she opened a second location in South Abington Twp. Now, Bedford employs 14 teachers between her two studios and teaches about 10 classes per week herself.

“When I was younger, even to get up to speak in front of people brought up so much fear,” Bedford said. “I had to get out of my own way to realize there was something bigger. When other lives are better, I’m reminded why I do this.

“It’s incredibly inspiring to see a shift in other people,” she added. “It’s showing them they’re special and perfect and not broken. Nothing needs to be fixed.”

Bedford attributes her own breakthrough to the techniques she learned as a practitioner and teacher, specifically in becoming more mindful about breathing. Yoga is more than exercise and encourages people to take measured steps to become more aware of their bodies, she explained.

“It has a lot to do with breath. In flight-and-fear response, breath is choppy. During joy or pleasure, it’s long, smooth and even,” Bedford said. “You can change your mind through breathing. Yoga has a huge emphasis on that, much like meditation. For moments, you experience quiet clarity. There’s energy deep in our body that clears the system through movement.”

In addition to the regular classes at each studio, Bedford and her staff frequently host creative pop-up classes as well as reduced-price events as benefits for charities like the Farmhouse Sanctuary and local people with sick children.

“I just like to give back when I can. Yoga is all I know and can give,” Bedford said. “I wanted the studio to be something more, something that could give to the community. Helping others is part of what I hope to do here.”

Contact the writer: pwilding@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5369; @pwildingTT on Twitter

Meet Kelly Bedford

At home: Lives in Clarks Summit with her husband, Brian, and has a stepson, Brody

At work: Owns Mission Yoga, Scranton and South Abington Twp.

Inspirations: Her parents and people who spend their lives helping others

Aspirations: To travel more and grow the studios to bring yoga to other communities

Diversions: Working out, including CrossFit, and trying new forms of yoga

Aversions: Judgmental and dishonest people

Quote: “When I understand myself, I understand you, and out of that understanding comes love.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti

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