"Yoga teaches us to cure
what need not be endured
and endure what cannot be cured."
My life started in a refugee camp in the Philippines. Two months later, my parents (Chinese by ancestry and Vietnamese by birth) and I arrive to the US. I spend my childhood in the Asian epicenter of Southern California, The San Gabriel Valley (626!). Growing up the eldest of 5 and without our extended family was tough.
At eighteen years of age, I move out of my parents' house to start adulthood at my dream school, California State University Long Beach (Go Beach!). I completed my Bachelor of Science in International Business, studied in Aix-en-Provence, France for 9 months to add a French minor, and I also completed a summer internship as an Events Assistant at the United States Treasury in Washington DC.
Post graduation with a few years in a toxic work environment and a yoga injury, I decided to pursue 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in Yoga Therapy & Ayurveda. I was so enamored by my studies that I also completed my 300-Hour training in 2014. In 2017, I applied for certification as Yoga Therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the rest is history!
2011: Self-Torture = The Toxic Work Environment + Stress
I knew it was bad from the beginning but I told myself that I would give it 2 years to add stability on my resume. The work environment was toxic and the stress made me both lactose and gluten intolerant. I would often joke that I basically became allergic to food because everything I ingested made me bloated. (Stress puts your body in "fight or flight" mode so your digestion is not a priority.) I started the job in January and by December, I had gained 20 pounds and I had no energy or motivation.
My anxiety levels at that point were off the charts. I became an insomniac and the only thing that would help me sleep was passing out from alcohol or self-medicating with a heavy Indica strain so that I could stop the chatter in my head and let go of the dread of doing it all again the next day. I was fighting with myself every day and I felt hopeless.
2012: Finding Yoga + Hip Flexor Injury
After a good year of this kind of self-torture, I decided that I needed to do something for me, and for this body that was suffering. I signed up for a gym and decided to try a yoga class; I remember just feeling so serene and calm in Child's Pose. Mat time became my time and no one could take that away from me. During my hour commute to work every morning, I wondered if I would get off early enough that day to go find my light at the end of the tunnel.
One morning, I woke up and felt this sharp pain in my groin area as I tried to lift my right leg to get out of bed. I remembered that the night before, in the yoga class, the instructor had put her weight on me to help me move deeper in Pigeon Pose, one of the deepest hip openers that you can do. I had felt fine at the point but my doctor informed me that my right hip flexor had been strained and it should heal in about 3-4 months so take it easy.
Even though I had a doctor's note and I was limping, my work superiors seemed incredulous that I had suffered an injury from yoga and I was still expected to work as I did before, constantly making trips in and out of the warehouse to get documents ready for the cargo to go out. This was on top of having to drive one hour with the right leg to and from work everyday. I felt like I was being punished, here I was working with this painful injury and I couldn't even find peace on my mat anymore.
To top this experience off in the best way possible, the management decided to terminate my employment on the grounds that I was not meeting company expectations. I wouldn't be upset if they had done it earlier, but to do this after the busy 6-day-weeks summer season where I had been working, that was a slap in the face. I had never felt more humiliated in my life and I had no idea what to do next.
2013: Time of Reflection + New Experiences
Thankfully, I qualified for unemployment and these funds allowed me time to heal my hip flexor, to become a foster mother to 3 pitbull puppies, and to start building my modeling portfolio! (Yes, all things on my bucket list!) I started saying yes to everything that was offered to me and life just started to blossom again. I also found my way back to my mat and I wondered how it would feel to deepen my knowledge in yoga and concentrate on my practice for my own enrichment. Something I could do to heal my soul. I searched far and wide for the perfect yoga training and signed up.
2014: Finding Yoga Therapy + Ayurveda
I chose to study with Michelle Mazur, a school focused on Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda, for a few reasons but mainly because I had never heard of Ayurveda before. After the first day of training, I felt as if I had found my calling and this could be the fresh start that I needed. From that day forward, I apply principles of Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda to my own daily life: to heal my past injuries, balance my digestive issues, and use the breath and yoga postures to discipline my mind.
Through this work, I am seeing how conventional health care can be complemented with holistic healing modalities like yoga therapy. Instead of only seeing specialists who focus on one part of the symptoms, it is possible to integrate care for the mind, heart and body, together.
You are only as young as your spine is mobile. The secret of life is that there is no one-size-fits-all. The pursuit of balance is only possible by listening to your body. It is the choices that we make with our emotions, with our eating habits and our physical levels that contribute to the whole. Health comes from nourishing the body and mind from the inside out. Through this journey, I have learned that there is a beautiful connection between cause and effect, and we must slow down to un-learn self-sabotaging habits, and take steps to build habits that drive us closer to daily happiness.
What do you enjoy about being a Yoga Therapist?
I love working with people. Human connection is so rare these days and what I also love is creating relationships. When you are working with me, I am not your teacher on a pedestal. I am your friend and I want to see you live your best life!
I love working with the human body. It is a fascinating piece of technology; interconnected with emotions and constantly changing with its environment. When working with clients, it is so interesting to see how opening one area can affect another. I call this the "Puzzle Effect" because you might be working on one "corner," and then have to switch to a different "corner" because that's all you can do until the other pieces fall into place. Yoga can be a fun game you play with your body, and as your guide, I am the lucky one that gets to see this transformation first-hand.
Are you interested in finding out how this yoga practice can change your life?
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. Every pose is adaptable to your unique body. If you are currently suffering from chronic pain, auto-immune diseases, or any physical limitations, Yoga Therapy & Ayurveda can relieve your pain. By taking a holistic approach and increased movement, the body, mind, and spirit will build a connection that allows your body to improve its own function resulting in improved immunity, strength, mood and so much more!