When I think about yoga and how it has affected my life – the most obvious answer focuses on my teaching. Being a yoga instructor and being involved in yoga teacher training has certainly taken me deeper into my own personal understanding of yoga. But that’s really just about where I am in my yoga journey right now. There's a lot more to my story that has nothing to do about me teaching yoga – but about what yoga taught me.
I loved playing sports in high school and being active in college. I enjoyed challenges and competition. But my body always seemed to rebel against me in those endeavors – and I accumulated a list of injuries and dealt with pain that couldn't really be explained. I had surgeries. I went to different doctors. I tried harder. I tried rest. I iced. I applied heat. But I still had no real answers why it seemed so hard to stay uninjured. I am pretty sure some of my doctors and teammates began to think it was all in my head. Honestly, I began to wonder that myself.
Eventually, after a trip to the ER that ended up as a three day hospital stay and lots of medical tests, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Finally, light was shed on a lot of the physical problems that I had dealt with over the years. In a sense, we discovered it was all in my head - but now I joked that I had an MRI to prove it! There was something wrong -- something real that was the source of my frustration over the years. It was almost a relief to have a diagnosis. I learned that the lesions that showed up on that MRI of my brain were evidence that I wasn't imaging pain and strange symptoms, but were indications of an auto-immune disease that was attacking my central nervous system.
I was left in a pretty weak state after the MS relapse that ultimately lead to my diagnosis. The fast-paced, intense workouts I loved were now too frustrating and exhausting. This was the first time in my life I really considered practicing yoga. I tried a few classes and really responded to the chance to move and listen to my body in a very different way than I had in the past. My neurologist I began seeing to treat the MS encouraged practicing yoga as well, so I kept at it. I found new challenges in poses, and learned to love the time to be quiet at the end of each class and just breathe. I wanted to know everything I could about this practice that helped me heal, and opened my mind up to a new way to be "fit."
Eventually, my desire to learn more about yoga and my background as an educator made teaching yoga the most logical step for me in my journey. I remember feeling a need to share yoga with others – I wanted to be able to share with others this practice that had impacted me – in the hopes that it might provide some relief, encouragement, and strength – physically and/or mentally– to face the challenges in their lives, too. It was such a beautiful match for me. It was a turn in my journey down a road that I would have never dreamed of taking that now seemed to be the path that was absolutely created for me to follow.
It’s such a blessing for me now to be able to share yoga now through Spirit Bear Life. I simply can’t imagine a better place to continue my yoga journey.