The Mind-Body SHIFT

Nourishing the Body, Feeding the Mind, Nurturing the Soul


MasterChef Competitor Jaimee Vitolo Increases Awareness About Dystonia

Jamie of MasterChef Season 5Additional spotlight has been cast on dystonia lately, thanks to one of this season’s MasterChef competitors speaking up about having the disorder. A Season 5 contestant of FOX’s cooking reality show, Jaimee Vitolo, who has successfully avoided elimination in the show thus far, explains her “voice issue and awkward movements” to viewers as symptoms of the movement disorder.

On August 11, Vitoli announced on Facebook, that she was recently diagnosed with the neurological disorder, which causes muscles to involuntarily spasm and contract.

Focal dystonia affects only a specific area of the body or set of muscles and may be task-specific, like writer’s cramp. Vitolo and others with spasmodic dysphonia—or laryngeal dystonia—have uncontrollable spasms specifically in the muscles of the larynx only while trying to speak. These spasms cause interruptions in the sound of one’s voice.

“I have spasmodic dysphonia, which causes my voice to break, sound weak, and even be painful to speak,” Vitoli wrote. She said she also has another type of dystonia, presently unidentified, which is responsible for continuous muscle contractions, aching joints and clumsiness.

Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder, after Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. According to the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association, an estimated 50,000 people live with this type of focal dystonia in North America.

Award-winning NPR radio host Diane Rehm also has spasmodic dysphonia (or SD), which nearly ended her voice-dependent career in 1998. Her condition first manifested as coughing, and later tremors, while speaking. After receiving successful treatment, including voice therapy and Botox treatments to the affected muscles, Rehm sought to spread awareness as she returned to The Diane Rehm Show after an absence of four months.

Nightline ABC dedicated an entire episode of the program to Rehm’s discussion about living with the disorder. The radio show host also recounts the physical and emotional struggle with SD in her book, Finding My Voice.

Since returning on air, Rehm’s show has grown into one the most popular public broadcasting programs after more than 30 years on air.

Despite her altered voice, of which listeners have taken note, Rehm believed there was hope. “I can keep doing [the show]. I can keep talking about it,” she said. “The doctors will keep learning about it.”

Vitolo shares Rehm’s optimism. “Treatment is underway, and it looks promising!” she writes.

Make September Dystonia Awareness MonthThe dystonia community wishes her the best as she continues the MasterChef competition and learns more about how to better manage her symptoms.

While there are treatments for different types of dystonia, the cause of it is still uncertain, and there is currently is no cure. Boosting awareness about the debilitating movement disorder, which affects more than 250,000 people in the United States, is key to funding more research and knowledge about dystonia. This is why there is a petition, starting September 1, asking the White House to officially recognize September as Dystonia Awareness Month. Please consider signing the petition and help to bring greatly needed attention to this complex disorder.

Learn more about the petition here:

MasterChef airs on FOX on Mondays, 8 p.m. EST/PST, and 7 p.m. CST.


How to Reclaim Your Sense of Self After Life’s Shattering Setbacks

Goddess Pose YogaThe past several days I have been cocooning myself in self-care. Eating food that nourishes the body, and foods that comfort the soul. Centering myself on the yoga mat. Immersing myself in a delicious novel. Cuddling with my man and relishing “us” time. Visiting with old and dear friends to help remind me who I am and where I’ve come from. I desperately needed the emotional and physical recovery and rejuvenation after the last week I’ve had.

When Life Imitates the Movies

Last Friday, I hit a brick wall with great velocity and force. I was burnt out and exasperated after a week of slaving away in an exciting, new job opportunity, which was poised to positively and significantly transform my life. My boss, however, was a man with grandiose, unrealistic expectations and was complimentary and encouraging one minute, then insulting and challenging the next. With growing frustration and suspicion, research revealed that this man suffered from much more than mood swings; he was a pathological liar and con artist.

To say that I was stunned is a gross understatement. I felt betrayed, vulnerable and foolish. All that time and all that hard work were for naught but a mentally sick man’s gain. The loss of an amazing opportunity that proved to be false made me heartsick.

I had ignored the red flags and building unease. I excused it as my own resistance to increasing challenges and to insecurities about my abilities to take on such an important, time-consuming role. I fell into the trap so many of us do—women especially—of stuffing a pillow into the mouths of our own intuition and claiming someone else’s inadequacies as something lacking in ourselves.

Any anger with him quickly dissipated and led to a depressed funk. There went the excitement over a dream job that married two of my greatest passions. Goodbye to the chance at building a very sound financial foundation with my partner. Away slid the hopes to quickly and completely pay off my debts. Not only was this a betrayal of trust, it was a betrayal of my dreams.

How to Recover and Reclaim Your Sense of Self

I refused to let the weight of this keep me at a standstill. I was not going to let the encroaching quicksand of self-doubt and sadness keep me rooted in the past, looking down. Instead I was going to brush myself off and look up and move forward. After all, I know how to successfully marry my two passions on my own two feet. I, not this twisted person, am in control of my dreams. And it helps tremendously to be surrounded by people who love me, who keep reminding me of my own skills and capabilities.

With so many of my friends enduring their own trials or raising children or living far away, on top of my own limiting health challenges, one gets used to living through much of the days solo. Staying busy with my passions, spending time with my family, my man’s friends and family, keeping touch with friends virtually, I try to distract myself from the feelings of disconnectedness and isolation inside, but it never completely goes away. So when one of my oldest friends invited me to go on a special mini-vacation, I couldn’t refuse.

Girlfriends in WinterHealing the Hurt with Social Support

When it comes to spending time with my own girl friends, the opportunity is often feast or famine. I took full advantage of the feast this time. On Saturday, I was off to the farmers’ market with a dear friend and her children. On Monday, I left for Long Island for a couple nights with one of my oldest friends. While there, we had a surprise visit from another old schoolmate we hadn’t seen in 20 years. We reminisced over old times and caught up on the 20 years of life since. Then I was re-energized by the new and thrilling experience of being on stage while an extremely popular band performed to an amphitheatre full of fans. On the way back, we stopped by my best friend’s home and spent several, life-affirming hours with her and her daughters. Her warm and familiar presence always helps to center me and remind me of the importance of balance.

Take a Step Back for Perspective

It can be extremely healing to slip out of your daily skin for a little while and temporarily leave behind whatever worries, problems and tribulations that threaten to bog you down. Sometimes you can surround yourself in a circle of loving friends. Other times you have take yourself out on a date, doing things that bring out your playful side of you, the child within who still exudes exuberance and boundless buoyancy when facing life. Or you may find solace in an absorbing saga in literature or film that takes you away into another world entirely for a couple of hours. Spewing out all your feelings in a journal (or blog) doesn’t hurt either. Releasing those emotions frees you up for bigger and better things.

Whether you take a mental escape or a physical one, playing around in a new environment or from a different viewpoint can help you find perspective, clarity and eventually peace. I’m so grateful for both my physical and mental escapes, and the people who helped to make it happen. Now I am once again ready to jump back into life, claiming the reigns of my destiny and looking ahead with hope and excitement for what is to come.

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Athlete Alexander Nicholas Reveals How Spartan Races, Martial Arts and HIIT Helped Him Prepare for Broken Skull Challenge

Alexander Nicholas Tire Swing

EPIC gym owner and pro Spartan Racer Alexander Nicholas/SRC: Alexander Nicholas

When restaurant owner Alexander Nicholas, of New York, NY, was invited to compete in Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, the seasoned athlete didn’t hesitate to sign on. A Reebok-sponsored, champion Spartan Race competitor, obstacle racing is Alex’s specialty.

He finished first out of 5,000 at Spartan Hawaii and has competed in numerous additional Spartan Races, as well as a Mexican Death Race. The Broken Skull Challenge was a natural next step.

“I didn’t really have to change my training regimen for this,” said Alex, owner of EPIC, a hybrid gym that specializes in Spartan-inspired functional fitness workouts, which feature the running, jumping and climbing of obstacle course training techniques. EPIC also varies workouts between HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and endurance style training. Alex’s dynamic core workouts also consist of full-body, explosive movements.

It’s no surprise that Alex had confidence about his preparation going into the Broken Skull Challenge. “[The competition is] taxing on your endurance and requires quick bursts of high intensity,” he said. “You have to be prepared for anything. You have no clue of what’s next and have no time to prep on challenges.”

Fortunately, Alex is versed in multiple athletic disciplines. A former college football player, he has also studied martial arts for more than eight years, including Muay Thai kickboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and mixed martial arts (MMA). Alex was the victor of a Beach Grappling Tournament in Atlantic City.

He also has the advantage of GRYND training, a total body endurance-based workout at EPIC that challenges both physical and mental stamina.

“You have to keep your mind much stronger than you expect to,” he said of the Broken Skull Challenge. “You only get one chance—if you screw up, you’re going home.”

Reality Show Actor Tom Deroma

47-year-old bridge operator and actor Tom Deroma takes on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge on CMT

Fellow competitor Tom Deroma, a 47-year-old bridge operator from Wappingers Falls, NY, agrees that mental stamina was as important as physicality to the challenge.

“You have to reach inside yourself and pull out everything you’ve got,” the distance runner said. “Your mental attitude can take you a long way. Your mind can’t get too emotionally attached to things. You go in, do your thing and forget about it.”

Tom credits his experience in acting for helping in the competition. “As an actor, you have to have a thick skin,” he said. It’s a very competitive business.”

Tom said that, to keep the competitiveness strong in the Broken Skull challenge, participants are prevented from socializing outside of competition. “You can’t get too friendly with someone else because that could affect you going one-on-one with them. You get people playing mind games with each other,” he said.

“It isn’t like any other competition reality show out there,” he said. “You’re going one-to-one against the opponent, not a clock.”

In addition to Broken Skull’s distinctive obstacles, Alex also believes this competition is unique any show or challenge out because of its structure of the athletes competing against each other instead of against a field of competitors, as well as of the distinctive obstacles, “A Spartan Race can be a race of 10,000. In Broken Skull, it’s a race of 2,” he said.

 Tom vs Alex in Broken Skull ChallengeWhile Tom calls the competition grueling and intense, the former corrections officer said it was a great experience. “I knew I was an underdog going in because of my age. I was going against guys 20, even 27 years younger than me,” he said. “But I pushed myself to the limit. I represented the 40-somethings very well.”

A highlight of Alex’s experience also was meeting the brains behind the Broken Skull Challenge, Hall of Fame pro wrestler Steve Austin. “I was extremely excited to meet him as a pro wrestling fan as a kid,” Alex said. “[He] is an extremely nice guy. He has great character and is a very real person.”

Click here for a preview of Sunday night’s show, which includes Tom Deroma and Alexander Nicholas, on CMT at 8 p.m. EST.

For more information, “LIKE” Broken Skull Challenge on Facebook and follow @CMT and @steveaustinBSR on Twitter.


Meditate on This: Music Can Help Us Heal

Music can comfort and soothe us or it can stimulate us to action. It is literally the soundtrack of our lives, accompanying us as we drive to work, energizing us through a workout, empowering us after a break-up or setting the tone for concentration as we study. Music can drive us to creativity or create community with a universal message. Beyond the emotional pleasure that a song can bring us, music has numerous health benefits.

We can’t separate our body from our mind and our soul. “Music touches all three aspects,” Music Health Coach Lori Cunningham said in an interview. “When we use music with intention to help, we can be more productive, and it can help us relax.”

How Music Helps Us De-Stress

Relaxation is crucial for the high-stress society in which we live. Prolonged stress, with its harmful effects on the body, is the number one reason why people go to the doctors. Cunningham said, “If we select music that helps us slow down the body, we can lower our stress.”

Music has been shown to reduce the amount of cortisol, our stress hormone, which in excess can impair the immune system. With 10 minutes shy of an hour of listening to uplifting dance music, British scientists found that subjects experienced increased the levels of antibodies, which fight off harmful substances that enter the body. Adding to the evidence for improved immunity, Cunningham can also attest to clients with autoimmune diseases feeling less pain while meditating to music.

Music Boosts Heart Health

In addition to lowering our stress and boosting immunity, music can slow the pulse rate, improve the regularity of the heartbeat and lower blood pressure. A study published in 2006 in Circulation, the journal of American Heart Association, measured the effect of rhythm, syncopation and speed of different tracks of music on respiration and cardiovascular function. Regardless of style of music, tempo was the sole factor that had a physiological affect on the body. Slower music caused a drop in heart rate and slowed the breath, while more up-tempo music increased the heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. Researchers also found that two minutes of silence between the music tracks had an even greater impact on reducing heart rate and blood pressure.

“Silence between music had the most profound relaxing effect. In fact, it acted as though it were music with a zero frequency,” said cardiologist Luciano Bernardi, MD in Circulation.

He likened the physiological effects to transcendental meditation. “First, you have to concentrate hard, giving your attention to something. Then, when you release the attention, you become very relaxed,” he said. “Music may be able to achieve the same effect.”

The Powerful Combo of Music and Meditation

Brenardi suggests that switching between fast tempo and slow tempo music may be used as a substitute for meditation to help manage cardiovascular disease. However, Cunningham believes that the combination of meditation and listening to music brings additional calming benefits.

“When we meditate, we can tap into that inner peace, like an eye of the storm. Focus in the moment, instead of stressing over past,”Cunningham said. “I try to encourage listening to music while you meditate because it helps your body and emotions get into the calm, centered space more quickly.”

Listening to slow tempo music can help to clear the mind from distracting thoughts, as well as relax the muscles. Studies show that these effects may be the reasons why youth with sleeping disorders who listen to classical music prior to bed experienced improved quality of sleep.

Cunningham teaches her clients how to quiet the mind in a comfortable situation. “Some like to meditate sitting down, and others like to while they are walking,” she said. Clients are asked to focus on their breathing, meditating on a thought or situation.

“I encourage them to meditate at least five minutes a day so they don’t feel overwhelmed,” she said. “Most people love it want to do it for more than 5 minutes.”

Music, Mood and Memory

Just as music can relax us, it can also dramatically improve our mood. Not only does playing happy, up-tempo music set the tone lifting our spirits, music actually stimulates the release of dopamine, the “feel good” hormone, which Cunningham says can make us feel a natural high. A major release of dopamine can give us tingles of pleasure when listening to a really emotionally powerful song.

Music can also give us emotional release. “One of my clients said listening to music made her cry — in a good way. It gave her emotional release,” said Cunningham.

Another surprising benefit of listening to music is that it can help people to recover memories, even if they have brain damage or dementia. Performing music is also a form of brain fitness, improving mental sharpness and clarity.

“People are feeling that release, gaining more clarity over the issues of their life and feeling happier,” said Cunningham, who also performs and records her own music.

Describing music as the universal language for the world, she believes in the importance of setting an intention when you consciously listen to music. “You already use it, you already love it, so find out what it can do for you,” Cunningham said. “If you can use something that powerful, which you already identify with, to help the body heal, it’s not as hard or overwhelming.”

She feels music engages the body, mind and soul all at the same time. “Just eating a piece of broccoli doesn’t do that,” she quips.

Readers, how does music makes you feel? Which kind music either helps you better relax and which helps pump you up?


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New York-Native Uses Focus, Flexibility and Balance of Yoga in Extreme Broken Skull Challenge

Src: FB/Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge

Src: FB/Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge

What does a 27-year-old tattoo designer and aspiring yoga teacher from New York have in common with a 34-year-old Wealth Management COO and powerlifter from Florida? They both are battling for $10,000 in the latest extreme competition reality show, Broken Skull Challenge, airing on Sunday, Aug. 10.

In Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, eight elite athletes go head-to-head with everyday men and women each week until there is only one left standing. The winner tackles Hall of Fame pro wrestler Steve Austin’s personal obstacle course, the Skullbuster, for a chance at $10,000.

“Unlike other extreme competitions, people are not racing against the clock; they are racing against themselves,” said competitor Briana Penzarella, of New York, NY.

While the aspiring yoga teacher has competed in both the Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder, the Broken Skull Challenge is, by far, the most challenging competition she’s entered.

“I love obstacle courses,” Briana said. “The most difficult thing [about Broken Skull] was I wasn’t aware that I would go head-to-head with other athletes. It was pretty difficult to settle into.”

At 5-feet-5, weighing 118-pounds, she adds, “There were pretty strong and athletic ladies to deal with that day—much bigger than me.”

Briana, who also cares for kids with special needs, admits the challenge was completely outside her “peaceful realm” of yoga. “During the competition, pretty much everyone was pretty scary,” she said. “Everyone had their guards up.”

Briana built up her endurance and strength for the challenge with trainer Maurice Christovale, of fitness club Equinox. She did a lot of work with kettlebells, ropes and weightlifting. “I had to drag Maurice around the entire gym with extra weight,” said Briana.

She also credits her yoga practice for helping her prepare for the competition. “Breathing is really the key. When you stop breathing, everything stops around you,” she said. “Yoga really teaches you to center yourself, focus and balance.”

Compared to the more strength-focused girls on the show, Briana felt her buoyancy and flexibility were big assets in the competition.

“It happened so quickly,” she said. “I can’t wait to do it again!”

For more information, “LIKE” Broken Skull Challenge on Facebook and follow @CMT and @steveaustinBSR on Twitter.

For a preview of Sunday night’s show on CMT at 8 p.m. EST, click here.

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How women can stay fit and feel fab while constantly on the go

Don't Underestimate the Benefits of Frozen FruitCamatkarasanaHealthy Tips For Women On The Go
The following is a guest post by nutritionist and dietician Andrea Szebeni: 

A common weeknight for many women after a busy day at the office might involve calling in takeout from a favorite restaurant or picking up fast food from the drive-through.

But for many women, they may not be able to eat that last French fry without reaping serious consequences at the gym the next day. Why? Because various lifestyle changes make it harder to stay in shape, says Andrea Szebeni, a nutritionist and dietician with the Lighthouse Recovery Institute, a treatment center that helps women overcome eating disorders and other addictions.

“There are social factors such as going out to eat and staying up later at night, and now women are responsible for making their own food choices,” Szebeni says.

Women in high school and college have easy access to organized sports, and teens likely had their meals prepared for them. As a working professional, however, women actually have to put time, energy and effort into preparing meals or going to the gym, says Szebeni.

So how are women on the go expected to stay fit? Here are some of Szebeni’s simple nutrition and exercise tips:

1.    Prepare for success – Choose easy-made snacks such as buying cut-up vegetables like broccoli and add a healthy protein such as nuts or string cheese. One of my favorite snacks is carrots with hummus, Szebeni says. Carrots are loaded with Vitamin A, which flushes toxins from the body and helps prevent blemishes, premature wrinkling and acne. They also decrease the likelihood of heart disease and stroke, she says. Hummus is not only yummy, but it is packed with fiber, and the chickpeas help lower cholesterol.

2.      Don’t give frozen veggies the cold shoulder – Frozen fruits and vegetables get a bad rap, but they shouldn’t. They are actually frozen at their highest nutrient value. There is a study showing that fresh foods can lose up to 45 percent of their nutritional value when being transported across the U.S. to the grocery store. Add frozen fruit to a yogurt smoothie, oatmeal or cottage cheese. Frozen blueberries, peaches and cherries have some of the highest nutritional value.

3.      Buy ready-made – Frozen vegetables can be added to a lean protein such as a rotisserie chicken. Frozen corn, broccoli, winter squash and green beans are a great choice, Szebeni says. Add 10-minute ready-made brown rice and you have a balanced meal that can be prepared faster than waiting in line at a drive-through, she says.

4.      Plan ahead – Take one day a week to make a menu for the week. This way you already have set in your mind what is for dinner and won’t be tempted to grab an easy meal on the way home. Plus, think of all the money you’ll be saving by not eating out. New shoes, anyone?

5.      Make exercise fun – Exercise classes can be more motivational for some people because you are surrounded by other people. Step outside of your comfort zone and try a fitness class that has always interested you. We love hot yoga, kickboxing, Pilates and spinning. On average, a 150-pound person burns between 500 and 700 calories in one hour of kickboxing, Szebeni says.

6.      Keep it interesting – The key is to enjoy what you do, whether it’s riding your bike, swimming or walking on the beach. Have a few options that you change up every few weeks so you don’t become bored. If you are looking for exercise inspiration, check out local fun runs being hosted in your area, ask friends and co-workers what activities they participate in to stay in shape or even check sites like Groupon or LivingSocial that encourage you to try new things.

About Lighthouse Recovery Institute

Andrea Szebeni is a registered dietitian at Lighthouse Recovery Institute ( in Delray Beach, Fl., with a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition.  She specializes in eating disorder recovery treatments, wellness development and individual health and fitness. Andrea’s personal experiences, education and passion for helping people feel better about themselves make her one of South Florida’s most dynamic and successful eating disorder professionals. 




Heeding the Call to Teach the Healing of Yoga

EasyPoseI still remember the day I sat in my then-rheumatologist’s office more than a decade ago, fatigued and broken, seeking yet another treatment, desperate for solutions. Seemingly helpless in the fight against insomnia, suffering from daily migraines, brain fog and digestion problems and saddled with excruciating pain, numbness and pins-and-needles sensation of misbehaving nerves, I was so physically fatigued that it was hard to even walk to the mailbox some days. Though we’d tried a couple of medications, physical therapy and trigger point injections, we’d exhausted this doctor’s toolbox of treatment (which naturally didn’t include yoga or tai chi, at the time). 

“I don’t know what more can be done,” he said. “I can’t see you getting much better than you are now.”

This essay, Dr. F., is dedicated to you

After hearing this from a “trusted” medical professional, some patients might have sunk into a whirling pit of despair and sorrow. I’d already been there, done that and had the scars to prove it. This time, I was angry and defiant—I would not let this autoimmune disorder get the best of me for any longer. I would do everything in my power to regain my health.

Namaste, Yoga

Around this time, my mother and I discovered an incredible TV series called Namaste, starring the well-known Canadian yoga teacher Kate Potter. With breathtaking scenery and dynamic sequences, I looked forward to every “class” I could take with Potter and he fellow practitioners. The former athlete in me thrived on the challenges of new poses, and even if I kept tipping over, I would try again and again until I was strong and steady in an asana.

There were some days when I was in too much pain or too fatigued to do yoga. There were other days when I couldn’t get through an entire class, needing to take frequent breaks. And there were times when I repeated classes with reruns because they felt so delicious to my body.

During that time, I felt strong and pro-active, knowing I was using my body in a healing way, even when there were physical repercussions later for overdoing it. It was also fun to have my mother joining me in the classes. Unfortunately, the show stopped running—and I think the channel shortly went off-air.

A Return to Yoga

Handstand in Lotus PoseIt wasn’t until a couple years ago that I seriously returned to yoga. By this time, I had learned to manage pain and sleep, but I was dealing with the baffling neurological phenomena of a movement disorder, dystonia. During episodes of dystonia, I was very much not in control of my body, and it left me feeling frustrated and impotent. On the mat, I discovered my true self again.

While struggling immensely with balance and endurance at first, continued practice paid off, and I found myself in the wonderful world of IG Yoga. Here, numerous yoga challenges were posted on Instagram, inviting people to participate. Unsurprisingly, I jumped right, constantly challenging my body to form new poses or improve old ones.

Over the past couple years, photos turned into video sequences, friends and random strangers turned into more than 700 dedicated followers and my yoga inspirations turned into contemporaries. I won two IG Yoga challenges, and I was pleasantly surprised to turn up in Anacostia Yogi’s Top Ten Inspirational Instagram Yoginis.

While all this was flattering and it felt good to be appreciated for my dedicated practice, my mind was always focused on the mantra—if I keep showing up to the mat, I will heal. I also loved having tangible evidence of my progression physically—how my balance improved, how my flexibility increased, how my endurance and strength grew, and how my spirit and confidence lifted.

I’ve come a long way, baby.

Life, not love, was my battlefield, and I was gradually having more days where I was winning instead of losing. What also encouraged me through some of the tough days and weeks was how many people told me I inspired them with my journey, when I felt like all I was doing was surviving and thriving as best as I could. Then friends asked if I was teaching, and followers asked my advice for beginning, or maintaining, their own practice.

The Call to Teach Healing Through Yoga

Bird of Paradise Pose VariationEver the educator, the seed was planted that I was called not to just teach people about nutrition and lifestyle changes as a certified health coach. I was also called to teach the practices—yoga, tai chi, qigong, etc.—that would help others heal their own bodies and minds as with me.

Two months shy of a year ago, I began my journey to become trained to teach yoga. Despite major relapses, I kept showing up on the mat. I kept striving to learn and improve. I started studying how others taught students how to get into and work within the poses. Even when I was unable to leave the house, I took online classes and courses.

I have to admit I had my doubts: Who says I’m good enough to teach? How am I going to have the endurance to teach an hour-long yoga class? How will I find (and keep) clients? What if I start teaching and relapse?

While I tried to find answers to these questions, I kept plugging away. My practice continued to improve. My knowledge expanded, thanks to a diverse slew of sources.The flame of passion continued to grow. I honestly faced and challenged what Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, calls Resistance , and finally my dream seemed within reach.

The Beginning of a Dream Come True

Certified Sports Yoga Instructor

This past Thursday, I passed the certification as a sports yoga instructor! I still find it hard to fully grasp. I supposed that will come when I start with my brand-new clients and class. I will teach one-on-one and small group, personalized yoga sessions (in-person and remotely), as well as group classes.

I’m also finishing up my 200-Hr Yoga Teacher Training, which will be followed by Restorative Yoga Teacher Training. Never stop learning and growing. Never run out of tools to help others (and myself).

I told my friends:

Those of you who know my journey can appreciate that this means so much more to me than just a piece of paper. Your support through all this has sustained and energized me!

Thank you all for reading. And I look forward to hopefully teaching (and learning from) some of you in the near future!

You can learn more about my healing journey by typing “dystonia” and/or “lupus” in the search engine to the right of the page.

Renée Canada of The Mind-Body Shift can be reached at and at 860-468-9588 for more information about individualized yoga sessions and group classes.


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