My yoga journey began in 2002 and similarly as with most new and skeptic participants, it was consistently sporadic. Little did I know then that sometime down the road of my life would I retreat to the practice of yoga and find my life’s true calling. Lots has happened. But let me get right down to the minutia. During a span of five years in my late thirties, I would begin to suffer work-environment induced panic-attacks, early-onset osteoarthritis, weight-gain, and life-path uncertainty, resulting in great pain, exhausting insomnia, and relationship tension, not to mention, halting this since-birth sports warrior’s athletic participation. At 39 years old, I underwent my first Total Knee Replacement surgery and recovery, which, mildly-speaking, was a horrible journey from start to finish. As it should have been, given the state of being occupying my vessel at the time. Additionally, a few months later I experienced an abrupt end to a relationship that left me feeling confused, depleted, sad.
During 2016, I celebrated my 40th birthday with a trip to Puerto Rico with my best girl-gang – all also celebrating the big-40 during that year- and set some lofty intentions. I was determined over the next year to not to let my then confusion, sadness to define the life ahead of me.
After a period of self-inquiry and immersing myself in self-help content, my sporadic yoga turned into a daily, dedicated practice. It motivated me to also take every precaution within my means to live a healthier lifestyle. The key was finding something positive to build upon which, for me, was having quit, cold-turkey as they say, smoking cigarettes a year prior. That’s a pretty big thing and was the obvious place to start from for me. But it’s called “your starting-point” for a reason! I slowly incorporated a pescatarian diet, using food for fuel rather than comfort. I spent as much “active” time as I could in the great outdoors.
After three months post-Puerto-Rico, I began to see and feel my mind, spirit and body (including my new joint replacement) transform into the most joyful and healthy version of myself to date. I conquered turning 40 through intentional dedication to myself, incorporating yoga, healthy eating, activity, friendship and that critical time for self-inquiry and reflection. It sounds easy. But it was the hardest work of my life.
During the Fall and Winter of 2016, while I continued to heal my heart, I prepared my mind and body to undergo my second TKR surgery and recovery. Suffering from bi-lateral knee osteoarthritis at a young age, forced me to make decisions about my health before I was prepared to. By beginning to see my yoga practice at work in how balanced I was feeling in body and in life, having knees of the same “age” became important to me, given I will reach the time when I must replace them again.
With one horrible experience as a starting point and knowing what I didn’t do to prepare for the first surgery and recovery, I sought redemption for my mind and body to not have a similar experience. From late 2016 into early 2017 I was making the smartest investment in myself I had ever set out to make – and seeing great evidence of its pay-off all along the way. On the eve of my second surgery, I attended what I thought would be my last studio yoga class for a while. I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to return for about a month. You would have never guessed that the following morning I would be undergoing total knee replacement – I was THAT strong and balanced during that class. I was reveling at my state of being. I was THAT prepared for what lied ahead of me.
To paint a better comparison, on my discharge day following my first surgery in early 2016, I was assisted out of the hospital in a wheelchair - a hot-mess of a 40-year-old in great pain in the months to follow. I had to have a manipulation due to the quick build up of scar tissue while physical therapy left me in tears and in pain three days a week for months. Following my second TKR surgery in the Fall of 2017, on discharge day I slung my backpack over my shoulder, and using a walker, escorted myself out of the hospital and into the car. For both hospital stays, I was blessed to have the same delightful nursing staff. They were quite frankly, in complete awe! The next day, I drove myself to dinner with my family. The day after that I drove myself to my community yoga studio and participated as I could in class, with my cane and chair and bar accessible. My absence from the studio lasted a mere 6 days. Second time around…no manipulation, no tears or much pain at all and physical therapy was a joy. It wasn’t a miracle. It was hard, intentional and mindful work. And if you’re facing a joint replacement due to osteoarthritis, I can help you make your preparation and recovery a more productive and peaceful experience.
In January of 2018, just five months post-op from my triumphant second joint-replacement, I decided to make an unexpected investment in myself. I signed up for an eight-day educational intensive at the nationally-recognized leader, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, titled Yoga for Athletes & Teaching Yoga to Athletes. The intensive was designed and led by Sage Rountree, PhD. E-RYT-500, an internationally recognized authority in yoga for athletes, an endurance sports coach specializing in athletic recovery, author of eight books and co-owner of several wellness businesses. And may I also add, quite simply a goddess of kindness.
Totally life-changing eight days. Unique to me, I was the only non-certified yoga instructor in a group of 15 amazing individuals. On the 7th day, I had to teach these yoga instructors, including Sage and another inspirational human named Alison Heilig, a 15-minute “test kitchen” lesson. Throughout my preparation I knew I needed to have this “lesson” recorded. I knew the kind of learning tool video provides, because I used it throughout 2017, and continue to, to develop my own practice, and understanding of functional movement. And quite honestly, watching yourself make actual progress is motivating!
Upon delivering my short sequence, title ‘Yoga for Snowboarders’, and despite not having the yogic-language (Sanskrit) at the time, they called me a natural. And in that moment, I had never felt so proud for the effort and the investment I had made in my current and future self. I now have this moment on film, a starting point reference for my yoga teaching that will only grow with further study and practice. I encourage the use of video as a tool that will allow me to help you achieve your individual goals. And it will motivate you! It should be insightful.
While I was considering Kripalu as the place where I would study for my initial yoga teacher
certification, the experience under Sage’s leadership led me to enroll in the 200 Hour RYT Yoga Alliance approved Teacher Training program at her Carolina Yoga Company in Carrboro, North Carolina. This summer I was a resident of a magical community and land of enthusiastic, guru-connected instruction – which simply means every teacher that was before us was a rock-star to their personal tradition of yoga. And there was a legit direct-lineage Guru and rock-star among them! This program exposed me to the major styles of yoga as practiced in modern America, gave me a thorough grounding in yoga philosophy and practices, shored up any hesitation in my life (thanks to my favorite Mantra – All iN) and further propelled me down the path of what I see as my true calling. While Kripalu was a life-changing 8 days, studying with the Carolina Yoga Company was the experience of the lifetime!
If this all sounds nice but you are still unsure If I would be a good fit for your intended pursuit of personal growth and wellness, well, I’m wondering about the same fit. If you’re are ready to feel alive, get moving and add nourishment to your life, if you are eager to try an individualized approach to yoga, please reach out to me and let’s talk! The time is always now!
“I’ve had the treat of having Joy as a student in both my 200-hour yoga teacher training and specialized five-day intensive on teaching yoga to athletes. In both, she proved herself to be a dedicated, centered, authentic teacher of yoga that suits every student. Joy’s experience with double knee replacements, in particular, makes her the perfect teacher to people with physical limitations. And her love for yoga in general shines through every time she teaches. This—yes—joy makes a class with Joy unique. You’ll see it immediately when you show up on the mat in her class!”
~ Sage Rountree, PhD, E-RYT, author of THE ATHLETES GUIDE TO YOGA, EVERYDAY YOGA, and LIFELONG YOGA