Monday, July 27, 2015

Supporting World Peace

The World Peace Yoga studio is the first place where I felt back home in my body.

I spent years trying to cure my debilitating illness with traumatic, invasive procedures and medications that made my quality of life worse. It was through this repeated trial and error that I eventually sought out more sustainable integrative therapies and healing modalities. It wasn’t until after I acquired a disability that I discovered the amazing resiliency of my body and spirit.

At 16, my self-worth was dependent on how busy I could make my schedule. I thought I was eating “healthy” when I was barely feeding myself low-carb and low-fat diet foods. I didn’t realize how poorly I was taking care of myself until after I caught a virus and suddenly became very ill.

At my worst, my illness left me completely bed-ridden and only conscious for only several hours at a time. After the initial months without a diagnosis, I was desperate for relief. When my doctors stopped having any answers, I had to start looking elsewhere.

My healing first began with food. I have been privileged with the resources to be more deliberate in my food choices. I learned that I couldn’t separate the emotional response from what or how I was eating from my physical body. As I started to understand food as my medicine, I found significant improvements in my quality of life. It was only after I began to eat a more plant-based diet that I was eventually able to work my way into using a wheelchair for mobility so that I could attend the University of Cincinnati.

Unfortunately, my first year at UC was still detrimental to my health. My spirit felt crushed by my increased severe pain as I was pushing myself to meet the ableist institutional standards of success, and my depression and anxiety were at their worst with the additional stress of college.

The World Peace Studio was the first place I started to love my body and myself again. The first time I slowly made my way up the stairs to their peaceful sky-light lit studio, I was met with immediate community support and resources for better self-care. In the quiet moments practicing there, I rediscovered life-saving inner strength and hope.

5 years since the initial onset of my illness, I am now completely mobile with a greatly improved quality of life. While I am still living with my chronic illness, I am finally honoring and loving how I navigate the world around me and learn from my experiences as a disabled woman. I will graduate from UC next year, I continue to advocate for disability rights and social justice, and I am enjoying a more mindful lifestyle full of nourishing plant-based foods and creative community.

World Peace Yoga Cincinnati​ continues to be a powerful source of great healing and inspiration. Their intimate studio, supportive teachers, and dedication to achieve world peace have catalyzed profound physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation in my life. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to learn about yogic philosophy and an ahimsa, or non-violent, lifestyle during my 300-hr Foundational Spiritual Teacher Training + Yoga Teacher Training which I will complete at the end of the summer.

I am proud to learn from a community that is committed to intentional inclusivity. World Peace Yoga provides Silent Yoga in ASL and has trained interpreters for their many other classes and events. They host anti-racist and anti-violence workshops by local activists for the community and their yoga teachers in training. They continue to offer classes for all bodies and abilities and are working to increase access to the studio.

They continue to support me and others who are struggling financially with 30-day Freedom Months of unlimited yoga, “karma yoga” volunteers, and offering work-trade scholarships for their teacher training.

I feel good knowing that I can do my small part everyday to take better care of our earth and the animals and people who inhibit it –including myself.

Now, I am grateful for this opportunity to give back to this amazing community and share with others.

World Peace is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to raise money for more educational resources with two self-published books for delicious vegan recipes and living a non-violent lifestyle. We are also fundraising to update and improve the studio to make it wheelchair accessible.

I know that change is possible.

If you feel called, join me in supporting World Peace!

We are at a tipping point, and we are called to be more conscious of our choices. We can vibrate higher, live in community, and love and give more.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guest Blogger - A Holistic Approach to Chronic Fatigue

A Holistic Approach to Chronic Fatigue

By Leslie Vandever

Anyone who lives with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) will tell you that it’s a devastating disorder. It can have a negative impact on virtually every aspect of your life. Like the name suggests, CFS causes extreme fatigue that doesn’t ease with rest or sleep. But it’s far more than just being tired.

“Chronic” means that a condition or disease recurs again and again over time. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “fatigue” is “extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.” And “syndrome” refers to “a group of symptoms that consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.”

Chronic fatigue syndrome affects more than 1 million adults and children in the U.S. It can last for years. For a diagnosis, you must experience at least six months of overwhelming fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest and has no detectable underlying medical condition that might cause it. At least four of the following symptoms must accompany the fatigue:

·      general malaise
·      sore throat
·      “brain fog,” including memory loss and difficulty concentrating
·      unrefreshing sleep
·      unexplained muscle pain
·      pain in multiple joints
·      enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
·      headache
·      extreme exhaustion that lasts more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

So far, medical science doesn’t know what causes CFS, though scientists believe it might be triggered by a viral infection, problems with the immune system, a hormone imbalance, or even stress or emotional trauma. So far, there is no cure, and there are no disease-specific medications for it. Given its complex and baffling nature, treating CFS can be frustratingly difficult. Symptoms often vary over time.

But there is hope. By taking a gentle, holistic approach that uses both natural treatments and remedies along with modern medicine, you may soothe or even eliminate CFS symptoms, at least temporarily. This approach includes:

·      Working closely with and communicating with your doctor or other health care professionals.
·      Focusing on the most problematic symptoms first. These may include ways to combat fatigue, sleep issues and their resulting “brain fog,” such as practicing good sleep hygiene; and treating depression and anxiety with cognitive behavioral or other mental health therapy, medications, natural supplements or a combination of all three
·      Treating dizziness or light-headedness, which may include referral to a neurologist or cardiologist, then treating any underlying cause
·      Monitoring prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements to avoid potentially harmful interactions and side-effects
·      Using care with nutritional and herbal supplements Many patients report that these successfully soothe or ease symptoms, but you should discuss them with your doctor before taking them. Nutritional and herbal supplements are unregulated and, because of the lack of or few clinical trials, provide little or no credible information about or proof of their ingredients, potency or possible side effects.
·      Maintaining proper nutrition Your body requires a healthy diet to function at its best. Many CFS patients are sensitive to some foods or chemicals; some nutritional or herbal supplements may even be dangerous to them. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist about your diet.
·      Managing daily activities and exercise Because CFS causes such debilitating fatigue, learning how much activity or exercise you can manage each day is key. Exercise is crucial for overall health. Tailor it to fit your particular circumstances to avoid exhaustion and triggering symptoms.
·      Improving your quality of life and overall health by using tools like cognitive behavioral therapy to help you manage your symptoms. CBT helps people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer; why not you? Other types of mental health therapy, including professional counseling and support groups may be helpful, too.

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in Northern California.

·      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (2012, May 14) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on October 30, 2014 from
·      Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (2013, March 3) National Health Services. Retrieved on October 30, 2014 from
·      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (2014, July 1) Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on October 30, 2014 from