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June 18th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Danielle

This is Danielle. We often like to help tell the story of our Yogi of the Week, but we have no words as beautiful as hers. This is her story:

I remember my very first yoga class. I hid in the back because I was afraid the teacher might ask me to leave or tell me that I couldn't do yoga. At home, I practiced with videos with no one around to watch. I came up with my own modifications. In my first class, I didn't know if I should take my prosthetic leg on or off. I didn't even buy a mat because I didn't want to get my hopes up. I didn't think of myself as a person who could practice yoga. Now, when I go into class five times a week, I always remember that first class and the limits I almost set on myself.

Diagnosed with cancer at fifteen, my leg was amputated when I was sixteen. When I returned to cross country and track, the pounding hurt my residual limb and felt too rough on my body. Four lung surgeries and a second round of chemotherapy later, I was overweight and weaker than I had ever been. I kept acting in college and after I graduated but I didn't think I could make a career out of it because of my body. I wrote but felt isolated and alone. Finally, I decided I didn't want to wait around for doctors to determine what kind of life I would be able to live. My mom and husband helped me do research and radically alter my lifestyle. Three years later, I'm still in remission. When I start to worry "what if" about my next scan or the success of my screenplay, I remember to be here in this moment.

Yoga has taught me to live in uncertainty. As a creative person, I used to be devastated by the cycle of acceptance and rejection. I'd put so much of my heart into a project and get so giddy when an agent requested a full manuscript; only to have my hopes dashed by rejection. Yoga helps me find peace now. Peace gives me the strength to keep editing and reapplying. During the highs and lows, I always have my mat. Yoga reminds me that daily practice is more important than end results.

I believe disabled people deserve an opportunity to tell our stories. Mainstream media has such a narrow definition of what is beautiful, healthy, and sexy. In a world where so many people are sick from a lifestyle of fast food and high-stress living, everyone has a million excuses for why they can't change. I aspire to be a role model to people of all abilities. You are never too old, too sick, too broken to begin your journey toward wellness.


We are incredibly inspired by Danielle, and we feel so grateful to be able to share her story. Do you have a story you’d like to tell? Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page: Manduka.com/You

Every week, we'll share the story of another real yogi. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here, or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka

Yogi of the Week: Danielle

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