Mind, Body and Spirit

When they first met at a volunteer event a few years ago, Jen Kraft and Melanie Struble felt a connection right away. Both worked with people dealing with eating disorders, Jen as a yoga teacher and Melanie as a psychotherapist. They both felt very strongly that how people view their bodies, women especially, has an effect on their minds and spirits.

“The words we say, our bodies hear and store away—‘I’m so fat’ or ‘I can’t believe I ate that. I’m so gross’—so we end up having a really difficult relationship with these same bodies that we should be appreciating for what they do for us every day,” -Jen Kraft

Soon after meeting, they talked about creating a place where integrated body-positive programs and classes could be offered, all under one roof.

They opened Body Positive Works in Saddle River several months later, and the response has been amazing, they say.

“We set out to create a community where people can just be themselves,” Jen says. “There are enough outside pressures and idealized versions of what we should look like and how we need to act. In here, we want everyone who walks in the door to know one thing: You are perfect just being you.”

And the offerings are unique: Where else can you take a yoga class, meet with a dietitian or a chiropractor, try Reiki, join a drum circle or learn meditation? They also offer special events with topics such as sound bath sessions, energy healing, group past-life regression and discussions like “Finding True Peace (By Forgiving Everyone)” with a Buddhist monk.

Body Positive is located in a three-story home that is more than 100 years old.

“It had everything we were looking for, all of the space for everything we wanted to offer,” Jen says.

One of the cornerstones of Body Positive Works are its yoga classes, but maybe not the kind of yoga many are used to.

“There is a misconception in the Western world that yoga is about fancy poses, that it’s all about the physical part. If you’re not flexible, you can’t practice it,” Jen says. “People are intimidated, but really what is at the core of yoga is connections. There are eight limbs of yoga, and only one of them is the physical practice; there is breath work, meditation and self-study and concentration. It’s so much more than the physical,” she says.

So at Body Positive Works there are no levels, no beginner or advanced classes; it is accessible to everyone. Melanie, a psychotherapist who works with people dealing with issues like eating disorders and substance addiction, is a strong proponent of yoga and has made it an integral part of her therapy work.

“It enhances everything in therapy if they can learn to connect with themselves on a different level through yoga. So for me, it’s a beautiful marriage.”

What they set out to create is an inviting, safe, celebratory and empowering space where what’s offered is a sort of makeover for the mind.

“We really put a magnifying glass on language and how someone talks about themselves,” Jen says. “The words we say, our hearts hear,” Melanie says. “We want to get people away from this negative language and go more into the essence of who we are. I want to be around people who are kind and supportive, who will listen.”

And it seems to be working.

“We want this place to feel a little like home. Where the message is, ‘we’re all enough, what we are already is good enough,’ and it’s catching on.” -Jen Kraft

96 E. Allendale Road, Saddle River, 201.708.8448, BodyPositiveWorks.com