My Journey

Debi Robinson

Yoga Therapist C-IAYT, E-RYT® 500, POLY, YACEP®, Health Coach & FDN Practitioner

My journey on the path of yoga began in my early 30’s. I was married and had a busy life as the mother of three small children. I had a healthy lifestyle and I followed natural healing methods along with eastern modalities to achieve and maintain good health. I was young and fit so I began with a power/vinyasa flow practice. I loved yoga and the strength and flexibility I achieved through my practice. I was able to maintain a regular strong practice for many years and it helped me deal with the stressors in my life. I developed a strong limber body and began to attend workshops and conferences to add more yoga into my life. Then after a few years, as I began to age, I noticed my energy would get depleted during and after my yoga classes. In addition, in my early 40’s my hormones began to shift and this also had an effect on my energy levels and ability to maintain the more powerful physical yoga I was practicing.

After practicing yoga for about 10 years I wanted more yoga in my life and I decided to become a yoga teacher. I began to study for my 200 RYT which is the basics that you need to teach yoga. I had always struggled with my weight and I thought if I taught yoga I would become a thin, flexible yogi and if I was teaching classes then I would have more opportunity to practice. I loved yoga and wanted to share what I loved with others.

Right after I finished my training in 2010, I was in a yoga class and one of my favorite yoga teachers adjusted me in a pose and pushed too far and tore my hip joint! In one moment, it was the deepest I had ever been in that pose, it felt amazing, and then I felt a pop. From that moment on everything shifted and the course I was on changed forever. This injury caused pain and instability in my hip and I had to stop many of the activities in my life including yoga. I stopped practicing yoga, playing tennis, running and eventually even walking became a challenge. I gained weight and to top it off I was now in perimenopause. I felt sad, hormonal and broken.

When I was injured I couldn’t practice asana, so now what? Isn’t yoga asana? How do you practice yoga if you can only do a limited amount of the poses the teacher is teaching or none at all? I would get frustrated in classes because I would either feel the pain during class or suffer after it was over. There were not a lot of options of therapeutic classes out there and most classes seemed to flow through the joints. I couldn’t find a yoga class for me to attend and I missed the amazing feeling I would get from practicing yoga.

I needed to heal my body so I went to Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Soft Tissue Specialists, Orthopedic Surgeons, Physical Therapists, Dietitians, Ayurvedic doctors, and Yoga Teachers, but could not find out what was wrong with my hip or get any relief from pain.

After 5 years with this injury walking began to became a challenge and I knew I had to figure out what was wrong with my hip. I went to an Orthopedic Surgeon who specialized in hip injuries and he ordered a MRA (MRI for the joint with a contrast dye). I was diagnosed with a torn labrum in my hip joint. My first surgery was an arthroscopic labral tear repair. Since I had been living with this injury for 5 years a lot of arthritic damage had already occurred. The surgery didn’t work and my joint collapsed at 3 months post op. I tried for the next 20 months to do all I could with Physical Therapy and Yoga Therapy but there was nothing I could do once my joint collapsed. I lived in chronic pain and my world became so small since I couldn’t move around. I had a handicap placard and I needed it! I felt handicapped and eventually decided the only course for a normal life was a total hip replacement. I had my total hip replacement surgery at age 51!

I began researching and studying about anatomy so I could figure out how I could heal and repair my own body. This led me to Yoga Therapy and Larry Payne’s program at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles. I enrolled in a 1000-hour program to become a Certified Yoga Therapist C-IAYT. In this program we were trained by some of the top Physicians, Nurses, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Doctors of Oriental Medicine, Yoga Therapists and learned how to incorporate yoga into a clinical setting. Our last year was volunteering at the Venice family Clinic where we saw our own patients for Yoga Therapy. In this educationally enriching program I gained so much knowledge and the knowledge I acquired helped me heal my own body and mind.

Yoga Therapy helped get my body and mind ready for my surgery and to heal quickly after my total hip replacement.  I am grateful that my body maintained the muscle memory from all my years of practicing yoga before my injury and just 18 days post-op I attended a concert.

I attribute this to all the strength, flexibility and wisdom in my body from my yoga practice. I went back to teaching 8 classes a week just two weeks post-op and here I am my first day back. It is my left hip that I had replaced.

What an experiential learning journey this injury was for me. I had to learn that yoga is SO much more than just asana since I became so physically limited in what I could actually do. Those years of looking, searching and learning that yoga is a deep wisdom practice with many tools to heal us at all layers of our being: physical, physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual were profound. It is a total mind/body practice. I realized the importance of the physical asana in yoga to keep our body strong and limber so we maintain strength in our muscles and bones, full range of motion in our joints, proper alignment in our body and keep all our tissues lubricated and loose so our nervous system can communicate properly since I had lost some of this in my own body. I experienced that when our physical body is weak, tight, dehydrated or damaged it may have a tremendous effect on our emotional wellbeing. I noticed this in myself when I became sad for the first time in my life because I had always been a happy camper and this injury had affected me emotionally.

Here I am one year after the surgery.

During the time I was searching for ways to heal myself physically I also began to research ways to balance my hormones in a natural way. I signed up to be trained in Dr Sara Gottfried’s Teach The Hormone Cure and learned an in-depth view of our hormones and how they shift as we age. I participated in many cleanses, courses, webinars and began my training to become a Health Coach. I chose to get a Certification in Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN-P). I was intrigued by the approach FDN took by interpreting functional labs to give clinical correlation to the symptomology a person was experiencing. I began the course and ran labs on myself. I followed the protocols my mentor gave me and I actually started to feel better! Modifying my lifestyle, diet, habits and adding supplements to fill in the gaps of nutritional deficiency worked! I became certified as a FDN-P in 2017 and now I gained more wisdom to share with my clients, students or patients.

My journey guided me to my path to be where I am at this moment as a Yoga Therapist and Health Coach. I have found the way to practice and teach safe yoga that is achievable for everybody, and especially for the aging or injured body. Everyone can realize the healing potential of this practice and you don’t have to be young, healthy or flexible to attain it. Yoga is a mind/body healing system and we need to pay attention to all parts of ourselves to be liberate from suffering.

If you see yourself in any of the situations I have gone through or feel lost, old, sad, broken, handicapped or stuck then allow me to help guide you to find your inner happy again.