By Katie Ann Smart

I’ll start with this: I’m 36 years old. I’m married to a man that I’ve known since I was 11 years old. We have quite a love story, full of ups and downs: We divorced one another only to get back together 10 months later and marry yet again. It’s all good, and we have it figured out now (We think!).

Today, we have four totally awesome children: Isabel, age 15, full of fire but with a gentle heart; Jace and Juliana age 11 (twins, which I prayed for at age 13!) who are completely different but get along great; and  little man Luke, age 5, who keeps us all on our toes with his witty humor and high energy. But most importantly, they all love Jesus. I love my family and my life. But the journey has been less than easy.

Throughout my life, my health has left me with some unusual battles: stomach issues, Epstein Barr Virus, broken back, weird mini-strokes, extreme fatigue, unusual weight gain, unusual weight loss, IBS, fibromyalgia, Lupus, and Hashimoto’s disease. The big one occurred on February 14, 2015: I had an incident that left me unable to walk or talk for several days. We thought it was a stroke, but after I spent 13 days completely frustrated with western medicine and the medical center of a certain hospital, we found no evidence that made sense. My speech returned on day five and my movement slowly began to come back. I left the hospital with a walker, as if I were an elderly woman. I remembered thinking to myself when I was unable to talk that I would do whatever I could and move as much as I could if I ever got my movement back. I thanked the Lord for keeping my mind clear: I was able to slowly communicate with the tap of a finger on each letter to form sentences. I knew whatever the reason this happened I would be grateful and keep giving God the glory. I am nothing without Him and He gives me the ability to continue. He restored my mind and my body.

Upon returning home from the hospital, and when I started to feel somewhat normal again, I decided it was time for me to restart my yoga practice. I was introduced to yoga by my sister in New York, who sent me a video by Denise Austin at the age of 18. Throughout the years, I’d pick it up again and then something would come up to distract me and I’d stop for a while. But it’s crazy because yoga is the only thing I recall giving me a sense of immediate relief after just one class. It’s so amazing how the body remembers poses, even when you haven’t done them in quite some time. I’ve had the passion and dream to open a yoga studio for years now, but always had a lot of doubt. After last year’s health scare, I decided it was time to get serious about my yoga practice. Throughout this year, I have attended classes regularly and was introduced to Yin Yoga (my favorite). My passion for yoga was reborn. I found a yoga retreat deal for my husband and I to attend last summer, and he agreed to go. After enjoying such a unique experience, I knew I had to start my journey to becoming certified (to deepen my practice with the possibility of teaching). I had more to give and share than I was allowing to emerge. It’s time for me now to realize that it’s selfish to keep this gift inside and not share with others who need the love, life, and spirit-filled healing that I did. So, here I am…Ready. Join this yoga journey with me!