Yoga is an ancient practice of mind-body medicine. The word “yoga” means to connect, unite, or to “yoke”, and what we look to connect with while practicing yoga is the true Self.
Yoga incorporates more than just movement (asana), for some it can be a spiritual practice uniting to the divine. Yoga can also become a lifestyle approach to live one’s life with integrity by quieting the mind through meditation, breathwork (pranayama), and performing actions mindfully.
I began my dep dive into yoga 5 years ago as a New Year’s resolution. Before I had done yoga on and off for over 20 years, however when I walked into the Cottonwood Hot Yoga studio for my first class, it was an entirely different experience. Reflecting back, it became a sacred time connecting me to the creator in fellowship and healing on multiple levels.
At the time I was 50 years old, out of shape, and in a knee brace from multiple knee dislocations. I attended hot yoga classes once a week, whether the temperature would be set to 101 degrees Fahrenheit and each session would last around 70 minutes. I could barely hold my weight in a downward dog and would have to lay down a lot to rest. One day in May of my first year of classes, I forgot my knee brace at home and packed my mat ready for leady class, but my teacher, Jennifer Richards, stopped me. She said to stay and avoid going deep into poses. It was a huge milestone for me, my knee did not dislocate once during class, and after that, I threw out my knee brace and got more serious about yoga. It took me around 50 classes to understand the flow of yoga and by that time, I was hooked.
I underwent my first yoga teacher training during the summer of 2017, spread over a period of 6 weeks. We learned about yogic cleansing, mediation, breathwork, cooking kitchari, yoga nidra, and various other yoga practices and techniques. I fell in love with the beautiful science of ancient medicine. Later, I did another teacher training course which was a 10 day intensive, but allowed me to become stronger and a more focused yogi.
During my first teacher training, Jennifer Richards asked me if I had ever considered combining yoga with medicine. I answer honestly stating, I could see myself training other young naturopathic doctors to become lifestyle medicine specialists through yoga. It was at that moment she asked me to move the practice to the plaza where I practiced medicine. In May 2018, Breakthrough Medicine started integrating yoga as part of our practice in healing and treating patients.
I love being part of the Cottonwood Hot Yoga Plaza. Hot yoga provides me with a means of detox to my patients in higher numbers and a community setting. Through the act of sweat therapy and movement, the detoxification process is amplified.
Not only do we have a beautiful yoga studio in our practice, but also clean showers and locker rooms as it is very important to wash off after yoga, so we do not re-absorb toxins. We also provide a wholesome kitchen as part of the practice, it is one of the only organic vegan restaurants in Cottonwood.
I give all my new patients a free yoga pass to the studio as I encourage them to practice yoga whether with us or by other means. In addition to offering yoga medicine, we also provide lifestyle education and access to another program known as Heart Math. Heart Math is a breath biofeedback program used to track progress on heart rate variability and stress management.
For patients who live outside the Verde Valley Area, we offer a custom experience that can include yoga and medical care so patients can submerge themselves into a beautiful and transformative experience.