My yoga practice began when I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with a Rheumatoid Arthritis crossover at the age of 19. I was a dancer at the time I fell ill, and unfortunately, the amount of pain and inflammation in my joints from RA, and the exhaustion caused by Lupus made it impossible for me to continue dancing. The impact of the combined diseases transformed even the most basic movements into overwhelming chores. Routine daily activities, such as raising my arms to wash my hair, became too painful to accomplish without assistance. I developed a growing depression and took a leave of absence from my studies at Pepperdine University to move in with my parents because I needed constant care.
At the time, I was convinced that I was destined for a stationary life, void of the joy I had found in the movement of dance. Luckily, I had a friend taking a Yoga class who offered to show me some gentle, easily modified poses she thought might help get me moving. I was aware of Yoga as a form of exercise, but never really investigated the health benefits it had to offer. Sitting still all day, growing ever stiffer waiting for my medications to work, was only adding to my growing fear and depression, so I agreed to give Yoga a try…
More than 15 years have passed since that first initial step in my yoga journey. Today, I am in a medication-free remission, have graduated from Pepperdine with both a B.A. in English/Theater and a M.A. in Education, and in addition, have studied to become a registered yoga teacher (RYT) through Yoga Works in Santa Monica California.
I attribute a large part of my recovery to my yoga practice. My teachers, including Jasmine Lieb (Yoga Therapy), Annie Carpenter (Vinyasa Flow), Lisa Walford (Iyengar Yoga), and my personal Mysore Ashtanga practice given to me by Maria Villella and Sonya Cottle have taught me so much about the complexity of our Eight-Limbed Path. I have been truly transformed by practicing the Eight Limbs and I am inspired to educate others about the amazing mental, physical and spiritual benefits a yoga practice can provide.