There has been a lot of talk about "Instagram Yogis" and whether or not posting pictures of your Yoga practice on social media is what a "true" Yogi should be doing. Well, I am an Instagram Yogini and enjoy sharing my practice, seeing my own journey, inspiring others, being inspired by others and connecting with amazing Yogis. No matter your opinion regarding IG Yogis, you have to admit you have been inspired by some of these Yogis. Maybe by an asana they posted, a meditation they shared, a spiritual quote or book that resonated with you, or maybe they shared some of the road blocks in their lives and how they are working through it.
Meet Krista, also known as @thesingingyogini. I found her IG account when I first moved to CO and was connecting with local Yogis. Her account caught my attention. She has a very strong Yoga practice, an awesome handstand practice (which totally inspired me) and an awesome attitude. Another thing that caught my attention was when she mentioned she lives with Ankylosing Spondylitis or AS but also mentioned to "just keep swimming." I thought this was a fantastic outlook. Although I wasn't sure what symptoms she faced or how they affected her daily life/Yoga practice, I knew from other posts she suffered severe joint and arthritis issues and it was a daily struggle.
As the months went by and we shared our love of inversions and Yoga with a few more IG posts, Krista shared she had a breakthrough with a seven minuted headstand... SAY WHAT!! No seriously, holy moly! So stoked for her, amazed and inspired!
Then soon after, she posted about her failing health. She suffered two strokes, one at home and another while in the hospital. She had a tear in her carotid artery which they believed caused the strokes. She was told no more activity, no more yoga and no more inversions. My heart broke for her. Yoga has been everything to me in so many ways and a huge part of my life. I could not imagine going through what she did, and then having someone tell me my practice was done. During this time, Krista tried to focus on the positive and look to the other parts of Yoga, which, as she said, is so much more than just the asana and inversions. This hit home to me and was a great reminder of what Yoga is all about.
I was able to meet up with Krista and talk more about what she has gone through and how Yoga has helped her. When she was 12 she was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and was prescribed medication, which did not help. She chose to no longer take the medication and tried to put the whole diagnosis aside. She then grew up learning to live with the pain and how to still have an active life. At 20, she dislocated her knee during Martial Arts and needed surgery. It wasn't until the surgeon very harshly reminded her of her condition, stating the severe arthritis and damages her knee joints had suffered.
This was an eye opener of the issue she could no longer hide from. In 2007, she suffered kidney failure, then in 2011 she underwent G.I. surgery and in 2013 she had surgery on her shoulder due to fusing. All of these brought on by stress and personal heartbreaks she experienced over the years including pursuing a Master's Degree, a divorce, and the death of a close family member. While Krista told me her story, my mind was racing... How can someone go through all of this? Would I be strong enough to endure everything? Wow, my problems are small!!
I was also amazed at how matter of fact she was. She was not looking for sympathy or pity, she is so strong. At only 36 years old she has lived through so much I cannot even fathom what I would do in her situation. Even now, as she is on the road to recovery from her recent strokes, she is learning to live with Aphasia. When a person has a stroke, it leaves scarring on the brain. Aphasia affects a person's language skills where they often have trouble finding words or lose the ability to speak, read or write, but it does not affect intelligence. Krista is learning what triggers the Aphasia and how to live with it. I could tell a couple of times when she was trying to explain something, she was relieved when I understood exactly what she meant. The frustration in knowing what you are trying to say but unable to say it is terrible, but again she is moving forward.
We started talking about her Yoga practice. About 15 years ago, she found a small, unglamorous space where she learned Ashtanga. She practiced on and off over the years but always came back to Yoga. Now, her practice had become a way she can find some control. She is faced with so many uncertain, uncontrollable circumstances on a daily basis, but she knows that once she rolls out her mat she is in control. Her practice is her own. She can make the choice to practice meditation, pranayama, or asana. Her Yoga also gives her a sense of self-esteem, not in the vein, "Look at what I can do!" but in the reminder to herself that she can finder to Yoga anytime, anywhere. She mentioned while in the hospital she practiced her breathing and meditation and the comfort it gave her, like a "teddy bear," a wonderful way to sooth the self.
Krista is a beautiful and strong soul who offers so much inspiration as a person and a Yogi. Her community at CorePower Yoga in South Denver has mentioned her getting her Certification and sharing her practice with others. She is not against the idea of becoming a certified Yoga Instructor and would love to offer workshops and classes to those suffering injuries... and hopefully inversions!
The road may not be a smooth one ahead for Krista, her doctors are concerned about her hip joints and are recommending surgery. But even with all this, Krista will certainly keep on swimming. ♥
You can connect with Krista and follow her journey on her website KristaHinman.com or on Instagram @thesingingyogini. Krista was also excited to share the Yoga legging brand K.Deer is donating a portion of their proceeds of the popular "Jodi Stripe" legging to The Adler Aphasia Center. This group advocates awareness of Aphasia through education initiatives and also supports research programs.
The Yoga Community is such a beautiful family, I am so grateful to have connected with Krista and hope I am able to send lots of love and support.