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.