The Yogaplegic

My Yoga Journey 

In January 2006 (two years before my accident), I embarked on my first long-term solo backpacking trip around Southeast Asia.  The trip culminated with a one-month yoga teacher training course in Nasik, India.  Up until this point, I knew nothing about yoga, even though I was a certified aerobics instructor and personal trainer.  After seven months of traveling, my body was a wreck.  I could barely touch my knees, much less my toes!  However, by the end of the course, doing 4-5 hours of yoga and meditation a day, I was amazed at how flexible I had become in such a short time.  Most importantly, I was in awe at the crazy awareness I had in my body.  I was hooked.

Within two months of completing my course, I moved to Dubai in October 2006, where I taught up to six yoga classes a day at a newly-opened yoga studio.  After six months of this insane schedule, I was completely burned out, hated yoga, hated teaching, and had no energy or love for my own practice.  Once my contract with the studio ended after a year, I stopped teaching yoga and started working full-time in the corporate world (a bit backwards, isn’t it?).

It took a year before I was able to find myself in a yoga class again, and I slowly started easing back into my practice.  Unfortunately, life had another plan up its sleeve, and on December 12, 2008 I fell off my balcony and was paralyzed from the waist down.  I remember lying in bed, in the hospital, feeling this intense desire and urge to bust out some yoga moves, but knowing that I couldn’t.

I began physical therapy immediately, and I gradually started to regain some function in my legs.  I was released from the hospital after a few weeks, and I went to Project Walk in San Diego, CA to continue my therapy.  I was getting stronger every day, and I was convinced that this was mostly thanks to my fit and active lifestyle and how in tune I was with my body.  By the end of March 2009, I had graduated out of a wheelchair and into a walker, and I went back to Dubai and back to work less than four months after my accident.  On the outside I was strong, resilient, and fiercely independent, but inside I was heartbroken, depressed, and in mourning, and I avoided anything that reminded me of my previous loves, including surfing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and, of course, yoga.

I eventually left Dubai, war-torn, unhappy, passionless, tired of pretending like nothing had happened and everything was the same, and desperate for a change.

Travel has always been medicine for me, and I knew that I would never recover emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically until I took some time out to travel.  Therefore, on July 31st, 2013 I set out on a yearlong solo backpacking trip around Central and South America.  Once again, I destroyed my body in the process, but my spirit was finally set free and I learned to love myself again, the new, slightly damaged, slightly wonky, but most definitely improved me.

Upon finishing my life-changing trip, I moved to Barcelona, Spain in October 2014, excited to start a new, unwritten chapter in my life.  I jumped into yoga for the first time in six years with a vigor, and I am now re-discovering my personal practice.  I am hooked. Every single day I find myself in awe with how my body is responding.  I love nailing poses that I never imagined I could do again, and the challenge of trying a new pose is addictive.  I’m recovering, strengthening, nourishing, and loving these skinny little legs, one yoga pose at a time!

6 thoughts on “The Yogaplegic

  1. Montse Barriuso

    Hola Tiffany!
    Having things in common such as I lived in Barcelona before moving to Dubai and where I started my Yoga Journey I can only tell you that you have truly touched my heart. I am very happy I found ! always fighter and no quitter! Thanks !!

  2. Clay

    Your yoga is amazing and I continue to be inspired by you on this site!

    Maybe you can make an adaptive yoga CD.

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