I have been interested in wellness since I was a young kid. My grandmother’s presence in the kitchen and how she used food to show her love and concern for my wellbeing inspired me to learn how to cook and to practice self-care. When she had multiple heart attacks in her late fifties and sixties, I became concerned about how food and lifestyle habits had impacted her health and wellbeing. My interest in experimenting with food and lifestyle habits that improved my health and wellbeing grew from here. One of my earliest ventures started with avoiding animal fats and playing competitive sports in high school.
Practicing the Pilates method was one of the few things that helped me move with more ease and decreased my pain symptoms...
My last year in high school, I started to experience back pain that would progressively get worse - to the point where it was hard for me to get out of bed during my college years. I was scared, tired, and confused on how to help myself. As a former water polo player and competitive athlete, I was at a loss on how to stop the decline in my strength and ability to move well. I tried NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medication), different types of pain killers, physical therapy, acupuncture, Iyengar Yoga, chiropractic work to eating lots of fish oil and turmeric. Nothing seemed to work long term for me. With the recommendation from my chiropractor, I started a Pilates program to strengthen my core and to reduce my back pain. Practicing the Pilates method was one of the few things that helped me move with more ease and decreased my pain symptoms, but only when I wasn’t flaring. Because of the benefits I experienced from practicing this method, I decided to get trained to work as a Pilates teacher.
After a major flare in 2006, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. It all made sense! From there, I tried different types of biologics (a medication that suppresses the immune system). Initially, the biologic I was taking worked as a miracle. I got my old energy back and ability to focus on building my life with a renewed spirit. Move forward to 2013, I started to experience flares again. My rhuematologist recommended a stronger biologic. I agreed. My flares disappeared after starting the more powerful biologic. Then 6 months passed and I started to experience fatigue and brain fog again. With no energy to move forward or passion to focus on what I use to love, I felt super depressed and stuck.
I dove into yoga therapy - specifically yoga nidra, yin yoga, and somatic yoga therapy...
I dove into yoga therapy - specifically yoga nidra, yin yoga, and somatic yoga therapy - and meditation, which helped me see through the chaos that was happening in my mind, body, and spirit. After my practices, I would feel more connected to what was important to me and more grounded to face whatever life threw at me. In addition, I created a community of folks that supported my path to practicing skills that were nourishing and healing. I develop a better relationship with pain, difficult memories, and learned to let go of relationships that didn’t serve me. I now teach what I have learned through my practices and training. With that being said, I continue to practice yoga therapy and meditation to deepen and refine my skills on how to make peace with all aspects of my life and to be a better teacher as well.
... I learned how an elimination diet with nutrient densed foods - along with lifestyle habits, could help me feel better...
Then during the spring of 2014, I spotted a paleo book with the word “Reverse Autoimmune” and “Heal Your Body.” It was written by Sarah Ballantyne who got her Phd in medical biophysics. I was intrigued! Ironically, I found her book at a vegetarian grocery co-op. Yay, for vegetarians being open minded to different healing paths! For the next week, I immersed myself into Sarah's scientific explanations behind the Autoimmune Paleo Approach (AIP). By reading her book and blog, I learned how an elimination diet with nutrient densed foods - along with lifestyle habits, could help me feel better by healing my gut and rebalancing my immune system. I was convinced. I started the elimination diet as soon as I could and continued practicing and teaching pilates, yoga, and meditation.
The diet part took a while for me to incorporate in my life. I realized through the process that I needed to reevaluate and adjust my schedule, taste buds - let's just say it took an adjustment period to eating offal and animal fats again, ways of cooking, and relationship with food to make the elimination diet work. With the support of my yoga practice and social support from like minded folks, I nourished and grounded my focus to work out the kinks on implementing AIP in my daily life. After a couple of weeks of being on AIP, I started to notice an increase in my energy - enough to increase my workload and be more social and positive again.
After a couple of months of trying the diet, I learned that I might need help beyond the protocol - meaning beyond the diet and lifestyle. I decided to see an Integrative doctor, who took me to the next level of healing. My symptoms of autoimmune conditions - body aches, anxiety, pain, and fatigue - started to dissipate even more.
... I owe my ability to stay on the path of healing through my practice of meditation, yoga therapy, pilates, and social support.
Through it all, I owe my ability to stay on the path of healing through my practice of meditation, yoga therapy, pilates, eating nutrient dense foods, and social support. There were a lot of ups and downs - along with twists - in my journey. There were times where I felt moments of gratitude, sadness, anger, love, lost, and pure impatience - sometimes all of them at once. Through my yoga and meditation practices, I learned that while parts of my life may be out of my control, I can still work on developing habits that can expand and deepen my strength and resiliency. The more uncomfortable my experiences, the more I worked on building and refining my skills to better meet with them. I am now a more grateful and grounded person. And I am living well, not just surviving my journey. It is now an honor that I am able to support others to do the same through my work as a somatic yoga therapist, pilates teacher, and nutritional consultant!