A JOURNEY TO HEALING AND COPING WITH STRESS WITH ADRIA MOSES
April is National Stress Awareness Month and with COVID-19 looming over 2020 like a dark cloud this couldn’t be more timely. Stress is inevitable, especially in a society that glamorizes busy schedules and has historically promoted a very narrow beauty standard, to name a few things. We also know that stress has a grave impact on our bodies and minds, and if not checked, can result in various health issues. To help us navigate personal healing and combat stress, we brought in trauma informed yoga + mindfulness practitioner and chronic disease warrior, Adria Moses.
She takes us on her journey with her health, how she found yoga, and her path to physical and mental healing. If you’ve ever been to one of her classes you are familiar with the unique aura she brings -- a calm, genuine compassion that’s charged with so much light. Her words shift perspectives and somehow give you exactly what you need in that moment. Because of this powerful wisdom we knew exactly who to turn to in a time like this. Adria’s story is inspiring and uplifting, sprinkled with physical and mental tools you can use in your life to combat stress and anxiety, and restorative yoga poses you can do at home.
Let's get into it...
What do you do?
I am a trauma informed yoga instructor and mindfulness practitioner. That means I teach yoga from a humanity driven perspective as opposed to a one-size-fits all approach. To facilitate mindfulness simply means I set tones and hold safe spaces. That's my job. I love it.
How did you find yoga?
A few months before my emergency surgery in 2013, I was working at a gym as a personal trainer. I was very sick, and at that time they started offering yoga. I took a couple classes and absolutely hated it, but was very curious still. After I survived my surgery, I found yoga again in my recovery and it has single handedly saved my life.
What about the second time made it different?
I always felt disconnected to my body. The first time I did yoga I was connecting to the teacher, not my body. When I came back I had an open mind. It was a necessity the second time, and when I went into the studio again, it clicked. After surgery I felt like I had a clean slate. I could feel my body connecting to the practice. It was where I learned that breath is what connected my mind to my body.
How has having a chronic illness changed your life?
Whew. A question. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 12 years old. My diagnosis forced me into maturity fast. I lacked autonomy, yet wanted to be in control of my own body and what happened to it and what medicines they gave me. But it was always a struggle. My life, for a long time, centered around my health and my pain and in some ways, it still does. My illness is my baby, I have to take care of it. Imagine having a baby at 12.
Wow. That’s a great way to put it. That’s a tremendous weight to carry at such a young age. When you teach you have a way of connecting to people in a very meaningful way. Do you think your journey with this illness has anything to do with that? :
Having crohns disease has generated so much compassion for myself. And because of that I'm able to have it for others. I always say I wouldn't have it any other way. We all have suffering, this is just MY suffering. I'm able to connect in a deeper way because I recognize that we all have something chronic that we’re dealing with. My Crohns is like a superpower to me because of what I've gained from it.
“Right now we’re only coping with everything that has come with COVID-19, but were going to have to heal our minds after, because we’re being traumatized by this.”
How has your practice helped you?
I had PTSD from my surgery. I was heavily depressed. My whole world was crashing. My mental state was not solid when I first went back to yoga. Something brought me back, and I went to this hot a** yoga class -- it was 105 degrees! I hadn't gotten over 105 lbs and my wound wasn’t even closed yet. I experienced how resilient I was through yoga. The moment I felt that, I realized that yoga could help anybody. If you can learn how to breathe, and breathe deeply, you can learn to be ok with suffering and, essentially, the joys of being alive. I had to share it.
While in the midst of deep depression and an attempted suicide, I started teaching these $5 demos that only 1-2 people came to. This was before I had a certification. Though I was spreading what I had learned and what helped me, my MIND still had to heal. For example, right now we’re only coping with everything that has come with COVID-19, but we're going to have to heal our minds after, because we’re being traumatized by this.
I really teach anatomy, posture, and mindfulness. Yoga is actually the tool I do it with. I started getting educated behind the science of the breath, which can help anyone with anxiety, depression, chronic illness, and the like. You would be surprised at how many people ask me how to breathe. It’s life changing.
My yoga and meditation practice is a complete gift, it helps me in endless ways and I’m still reaping the joys of it. There's 3 solid things yoga does for me: brings me closer to myself and my body, calms my nervous system which benefits my Crohn’s disease, and it keeps me connected to my tribe.
You are very much so worth the journey.
What advice can you give others looking to heal physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?
It won’t look like what everybody else got goin’ on on instagram. Healing is ugly. It’s painful. It’s a long road. It’s lonely. And it takes courage. And guess what? You are very much so worth the journey.
How much of the mental is involved in your physical healing?
OMG 100%. It is the only way the body can heal. You have to be in touch with your mind. When we’re ill we can’t treat it like we would a superficial cut -- just run water over it, put a bandage on, and wait while it heals. We have to rest our mind, and be an active part of the healing process. After my surgery I sought out someone to talk to about my pain. I started to breathe more, and through that I started to eat better, read more, do yoga more, live more. It was 100% mind. Breath connects mind and body. The minute you take one breath in, you know you are with your body. I always say -- Breathe into the deepest belly that you believe you have.
When things get the most stressful for you what are some of the things/tools you lean on?
I lean heavily into my spirituality. I connect with my breath and I connect with the higher power. Things that I can't control -- I give them up. I lean into my family and friends. I'm vocal about my needs. I do things that spark joy -- that's so important whether it’s pouring a glass of wine and cooking, or sitting on the balcony and reading, or doing my makeup. And definitely, getting on the mat. I could be on the mat for hours if I let myself. I also let myself fall apart. At the end of the day this isn't easy. I don't pretend it's all good because sometimes it's not.
I love your hair, it’s so big and you wear it so proudly. I have to ask - Being a Type 3 curly, what is your hair routine?
Ooh chile! My curly hair routine is really simple, depending on the day. I don't like to spend a lot of time doing it. On the days I wash my hair I try not to put any product in it, or very little, I love to use a moisturizing curl cream. After a couple of days it starts to form the style I like and I pick it out. I really like it natural, sometimes I like a more defined curl, but I always like it big.
So do we, girl...so do we! #BigHairEnergy
What are 3 restorative yoga poses that we can try at home?
Go-to hip opener that’s also great for lumber spine & lower back release.
Stretch your spine and calm your nerves with this one.
Healthy for mobility in the spine as well as our digestive organs—breathe into your deepest belly then release as you twist! (Do on both sides)