When I tell people about Yoga Therapy and explain to them how Yoga Therapy is different from a Yoga class, the question that follows usually is why I became a Yoga Therapist. The answer is quite easy; It was my own story.
In my early thirties, I was quite a stressed person- running a construction business, being a mom, wife, and juggling similar problems as many of you do. With time, I was becoming more and more fragile. Even the smallest issues used to overwhelm me. I wasn't the person I wanted to be. It was hard. Not only for me but my family as well. I was moody and easily irritated. When I finally decided to seek help, I got diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
Lexapro did help. It stabilized my mood, and as long as I was taking the pill, dealing with daily problems became easier. I got quite comfortable with this setup until I decided to take my daughter (then maybe 9 years old) and her one year younger cousin for a few days to Disney World! Solo!
I know, right?
And I forgot to take my pills. If you ever had to be on antidepressants or know someone who is or was - you can only imagine. I survived to tell the story, but I realized there must be some other way to manage my mental state.
Unfortunately, not much later, my Dad got diagnosed with an advanced stage of bladder cancer. I became his primary support system. I was driving 40 miles to his home almost daily, taking him to doctor's visits, chemo treatments, and spending as much time with him as I could while still trying to keep my household and business from falling apart. It was stressful.
Soon, I realized that I had to stop 2-3 times to take short naps during a one-hour drive. My hair was falling out. My feet and hands were cold all the time. I soon learned that I developed an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Hashimoto's is a condition where your immune system attacks your thyroid. My doctor told me that I would probably have to take thyroid hormone replacement for life.
My numbers weren't critical yet, so they allowed me to try an alternative approach first and come back in six months.
I did my research. I even enrolled in a health coaching program, where I learned how to modify my diet and implement lifestyle changes. I made meditation my daily practice. I also noticed that breath and movement in Yoga calm me down, and the constructive rest of Yoga Nidra resets the nervous system and creates conditions for healing.
Six months later, my labs were slightly lower, not in a normal range, but lower! What's more is that my anxiety levels decreased, and I became more energetic, happier, and could feel the joy of life again. Slowly, with time, under my doctor's supervision, I was able to wean off my antidepressants.
I still have Hashimoto's, and I see the symptoms increasing when I slack in my practice, or life gives me an extra load of stress. Then I know I have to step up my game, and my health comes back to balance every timend a
I never had to start the hormone replacement or go back to antidepressants.
For me, Yoga was always a cure, therapy, and a healthy and happy way of life. As a Yoga Teacher, I always emphasized breathing and invoking the parasympathetic nervous system. I know that my classes have never been super exciting in terms of workout or acrobatics, but the students always leave relaxed.
Working with many private clients, and even in group settings, the participants would often stay after class asking questions about Yoga as a cure for various conditions. That's what made me switch gears and become a Yoga Therapist. I wanted to teach people how Yoga can help them relieve their suffering. I enrolled in a Yoga Therapy Program and graduated from the Foundations Program in Fall 2019. After that, I decided to continue with advanced studies and get the International Association of Yoga Therapists' accreditation. I'm on my last stretch to reach that goal as well.
Seeing how Yoga changed my life and the lives of many people I know, in my Yoga Therapy practice, I decided to specialize in Yoga for Stress and Anxiety and Yoga for Autoimmune Conditions. I provide my clients with the tools they need to take their health into their own hands. I teach them how to decrease their stress and anxiety levels and speed up their parasympathetic nervous system's response. My clients learn how to manage their autoimmune conditions, so they have less frequent and less intense flare-ups.