13 Months Later- A Letter To Soul To Soul by Lisa Stortstrom

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Stress reduction, pain relief, and therapeutic effects. These are the reasons that I changed careers last year from Special Education Teacher to Yoga for the Special Child Teacher.

Crash…Last year on February 26th, driving home after school, all I wanted to do once I got through the green light at University Boulevard at Cattleman Road was to get onto the highway. The traffic was backed up for a mile – rush hour and the height of tourist season! Green light! After the one car in front of me accelerated, I began to change lanes. There was only one problem. The person in front of me got confused and stopped suddenly! Collision. In one moment, I tore my my L4 disc, suffered whiplash, and a non-impact concussion. My car was totaled.

I knew in that moment that my life would alter. I would finally have to take better care of myself. I had recently thought of finding a job with greater health and purpose…Recovering on my couch the next day, I saw a post about a scholarship for a training as a yoga teacher. I made a call to meet the studio owner. The next week, I was meeting with Claudia Baeza, owner of Pineapple Yoga Studio. After meeting with her, I dove into my RYT-200 teacher training. At the Pineapple training, I found the level extremely high for me in my injured state. Lots of pain! But, it was all essential, valuable, and life changing. After many medical visits and much practice, I achieved my RYT-200 certification.

Soon after I began my Pineapple Training, Claudia introduced me to Cheryl Albright, owner of Soul To Soul Yoga. I was led by her to another yoga training called Yoga for the Special Child , or The Sonia Sumar Method. This method teaches people with special needs the components of Hatha yoga in a style that is foundational. Through the five areas of class, all of the areas of the mind and body are activated. This was what I needed! I was so excited to learn and teach the method as well!

The training was powerful and brilliant! Meeting Sonia Sumar was so inspiring! What a vibrant person she is, doing yoga everyday and showing others how to connect with themselves and others.I learned to find my body again through the method. It was unbelievable. Sumar had created it while working with her daughter that had Down’s Syndrome. With my injuries, I needed much practice with these postures myself. I learned that our breathing and approaches to the movements are even more important than the postures themselves! Also, the Yoga for the Special Child method includes developmental exercises at the beginning of each class to get the eyes, mind, and body prepared and engaged.

Thirteen months later, I am able to move, breathe, and function better. I know many new fabulous people. I work with people with learning differences all around Sarasota. I actually feel fulfilled in my work! On a daily basis, I enjoy working with children and adults who have many special abilities and skills. Yoga for the Special Child has components that help everyone to move and feel better. The body is assisted in developing its capacities more and more.

I believe that working through my own pain has helped me to understand what people with special needs experience. Since my own body had been paralyzed in my lower and upper back areas, I had muscle spasms and great pain. My neurological processes had been impaired and I had to struggle to function as efficiently as I had before. The practice of yoga daily has moved me through my injuries. Working with with Cheryl Albright at Soul to Soul Yoga is phenomenal! I continue to learn from her and to see people at Easter Seals , The Haven, and United Cerebral Palsy.

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