I had trouble starting this biography. My mother had asked me to write an article talking about IBD-Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis-and yoga. Particularly something that would help people find the benefits in it, as well as to share my own story. As I began to write this article, I found that it was growing too large. Thus to help ease the pain I decided to write a bio, that would incorporate my journey with yoga and UC.
Here it goes:
At this moment, I am charged with sharing the benefits and the way yoga helped me in my journey with a chronic illness. One thing I will point out off the bat, yoga opens doors to health lifestyles. Yes I had been wanting (and finally became) a vegetarian before I got into gear with yoga, but it was the practice that eventually got me to renounce all animal products and made me healthy.
Diet and yoga go hand in hand, often time one leading into the other. I was about eight or nine years old when I first tried to become a vegetarian; it was much harder back then as the organic fad had not taken place. My mother tried her best to honor my wishes, but for a sick and picky growing child it was hard to introduce substitute protein, and eventually I went back to eating meat. Once in eighth grade, we had moved to a larger populated area–aka out of the sticks and into the city–and lo, there was Bocca burgers available! The start down a vegetarian diet started again, slowly, with beef and pork. A year later I stopped eating anything with a face.
Threw out this period of my life I practiced yoga on and off, switching days between yoga and belly dancing, waking up in the mornings to do either. However it was in my Junior year that my lower back went out. I was reaching down to pick up my over weight backpack, and I could not get back up again. After three days of laying on the floor, unable to move my limbs, we all knew what we had to do. Call the doctor, go to the specialist, run tests, etc. same drill new symptoms.
Wether or not my back injury was related to my UC, I never really found out nor cared to. What was important was I had new pills, and these pills interrupted my life. I was prescribed physical therapy, and every painkiller and muscle relaxer short of Oxycotten and Roxycotten. Again, it was all very mysterious.
My childhood aversion to pills never went away, so again I took my illness into my own hands and said, “ENOUGH!” I began down the path of drug-free recovery, I went back to my mat.
Yoga saved my health, my ability to move, and my over all person. As the years went on I slipped further and further down the rabbit hole, until about two years ago I enrolled in Teacher Training.
Now yoga teacher trainings are regulated by the Yoga Alliance, and have specified amount of work that one must accomplish, adding up to 200 hours dedicated to yoga. My teacher training went further, we completed 288 hours of yoga, including volunteer work, class training, going to classes, observation, discussions, and much more.
The program was designed to created an inspired practice within all of us to allow a deepened Spirit connection. This is where I learned more and more about how yoga influences the practices we make off the mat; and how there are things beyond our control. Both very important things to talk about when having a chronic illness.
“Yoga is amazing, because it is a physical practice that will change your life off the mat.” This was said to me by one of my teachers at an Astanga studio, . He stressed to his students that yoga was the door that opened into a better life off and on the matt, and this practice was one that had transformed his stressful, unhealthy lifestyle into something that left him stress free, with better lifestyle then he ever thought to find himself in.
Yoga also teaches the act of surrender. Surrender is the main thought that flows in the studio that I did my TT at, every instructor there would remind us that there are things in this life that we can not control, and that being stressed out about it changes nothing.
These two lessons I brought with me when I began teaching for a group call Higher Ground, a organization to help HIV and AIDS patients and awareness. This was the most amazing and inspire group of people I have ever met. I not only was teaching them once a week, but also ended up going on a retreat with them as their yoga instructor.
Working with this group of amazing people, as well as my own illness, taught me some beautiful things about Yoga and Chronic illness that run across the board. Mainly knowing that place where there was an ego, and there was the body. There are moments of intense healing, and there are ways to open up the body, mind and the soul to these.
Most importantly Higher Ground taught me just how important the word surrender is; I have my past and present with UC, they have their past and present with HIV and AIDS, there is nothing that either of us could do to change these situations. Did that stop us form all the wonderful things we did and want to do with our lives? Absolutely not!
We could not change the fact that we all had a past, and problems in the present, but we could do something about the future, and how we lived our lives now. We surrendered and understood that we were not to blame for this, nor were we being punished by some being in the Universe. This beautiful group of people taught me that there are things we can control, and things we can not control, control what you can, and leave the rest.
At a very young age, lets just say birth, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), a chronic, autoimmune, digestive disease that affects only the colon-unlike its sister, Crohn’s which effects the entire digestive tract. After many battles and tests, at the age of five I finally went into remission and just barley missing ending up with an Ostmey bag.
Flash forward about five years, when my doctors decided that it was a good idea to just do a quick check on me and ordered yet another colonoscopy. My GI was so impressed with my miraculous turn around, that, if all went well, he was going to write a whole study on me. Of course, things did not go well, and they found moderate dysplasia in two sections of my colon. The decision was then made to take it all out, and in time too! For the dysplasia had gone up two stages and had moved to all of my colon.
Finally, I was left with a J-Pouch–or a small pouch of small intestine to replace the actions of the colon–in the winter of 98 at the ripe old age of ten. Well anyone with a pouch will tell you, there is a chance that the pouch will begin to take on every aspect of the colon it can, including mimicking the UC.
So then for more years I was pumped with every remedy, both chemical and natural, that both my doctor and my mother could think of; just to stop the flares. It was not until I was a sophomore in high school, suffering from unexplained chronic migraines, that I made the decision to go vegan that everything went away.
At this point I had been practicing yoga on and off from the time I was about nine or ten years old, had adopted a vegetarian diet, and had done enough of my own analysis to know exactly what to do. I was growing into an adult, and was sick of everyone making the choices for me, I took my sickness into my own hands and said, “ENOUGH!”
Flash forward another ten years. Now I am turning twenty-four, been medicine free for almost ten years, symptom free for about the same, and blessed to have a healthy and deepening practice in yoga.
As my practice deepens, and I let go of what I thought were limitations. I want to help the world and give back for the beauty that is my life, by introducing the benefits and healthy lifestyle that accompanies a good yoga practice. Eventually I want to grow my practice and spend some time in India, in order to bring back much of the healing to my home city of Detroit; which is in desperate need of healing right now.
Well theres a little about me! Aum Shanti Aum Shanti Aum Shanti! Enjoy!