Meet the Teachers - Alexis Harrison
Alexis started practicing yoga during her senior year in college as one way to combat the extreme pain she would wake up with every day. Pain that was so deep that it felt like it was in her bones. Alexis struggles with pain had begun years earlier when she was just out of high school and diagnosed with Hoshimoto’s. She was prescribed arthritis medications to combat swelling and pain she was experiencing at that time, with little, if any relief. Through reducing fast food, exercising more, and starting yoga, she was finally able to experience mild relief.
As her pain and swelling continued so much that her rings didn’t fit on the day of her wedding, Alexis sought treatment with a new doctor and was subsequently diagnosed with Sjogrens syndrome and referred to a rheumatologist for continuing care and monitoring.
As life was moving forward, Alexis continued her yoga practice and added mindfulness to her self care, as well. She discovered these helped the swelling and in turn reduced her pain.
In 2013 Alexis became pregnant. Although the thought of becoming a parent was thrilling, it was also terrifying, so, again Alexis turned to yoga throughout her pregnancy. She was fortunate to feel fabulous throughout her pregnancy, experiencing no complications regardless of being high risk.
As her daughter was nearing the age of one, things started to change. Alexis noticed a large rash on her right hand, prompting her to see her rheumatologist, who intuitively knew something was wrong.
Tests were ordered. Specialists were seen. Ultimately, a pulmonologist revealed that Alexis was now experiencing lung fibrosis and stated "we’re looking at a life expectancy of 55". A terrifying thing for a young woman at the age of 31 AND a new mother to hear. Did that mean 55 more years or the age of 55? Either way, Alexis decided to ignore the life expectancy and became determined to stabilize herself without medications, if at all possible.
At 31, she had a 1 year old, worked in a hospital, and now had a total of three autoimmune diseases. She didn't feel like she was in a place to start harsh medications such as methotrexate - which is what was recommended.
She started looking into more of a natural lifestyle. Yoga became her best friend, she practiced almost every day with mini sets of poses first thing in the morning to help her get up and going.
Still nervous about her future and needing to understand what her body was doing, Alexis and her sister set off to the National Scleroderma Conference in New Orleans. It was here that she connected with Kathy. She really loved Kathy’s personality and input. Kathy encouraged her to keep practicing, to keep in touch, and to let her know if Alexis ever decided to get her yoga teacher certification.
Kathy and Alexis stayed in touch via social media channels and in 2017, Alexis let Kathy know that she was almost through her 200hr Yoga Teacher Training program.
Shortly thereafter, Alexis traveled to Houston to participate in the Yoga for the Special Child Basic 1 Teacher Training, led by Kathy. In the summer of 2018, Alexis took her training and love for yoga to the next level. She traveled to Reno, NV to complete Yoga for the Special Child Basic 2 training led by Sonia Sumar, Yoga for Scleroderma Continuing Education, AND participated in the video shoot for Yoga for Scleroderma’s 2018 new video content!
Alexis has been able to keep her body moving and healthy with yoga, in spite of her autoimmune struggles. The addition of pranayama has allowed her to stop progression of lung fibrosis - no small feat, by any means!
Through all of this, Alexis has learned to listen to her body, practice - even if only for 15 minutes in the morning, and has taught her 4 year-old how to meditate. She loves rolling out her mat to do "yoga like momma." Alexis’ husband isn’t quite on the yoga train, yet, but he sees and knows how helpful it has been in enabling her to maintain her ability to work, breathe, and care for their child.
“Yoga has played a vital role in my sanity, my quality of life, and has shown me how blessed I am. I feel like this has been a long process and yet I still feel like I'm just getting started.” ~ Alexis