For Melody White, yoga is less about staying flexible and toned and more about healing. Or a way of life.
White, 49, credits the practice with giving her her life back after decades of living in pain.
“I had been diagnosed with multiple auto-immune illnesses and wasn’t finding any relief through standard medical care, so I began to seek out other methods of healing, and yoga was one of them,” she said. “It completely gave me my life back.”
At age 7, White was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and suffered for much of her life with extreme pain.
“Eventually, it began wearing on my body and the pain was getting more intense,” she said. “By age 33, I began to feel extreme pain even with simple movements, and at that point I was diagnosed with several things like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.”
And then it happened.
“I had tried other forms of exercise, but for me I discovered that yoga offers more than just the physical healing,” White said. “It also combines the mental, spiritual and physical benefits into one. It offers healing for all of them.”
White was born in Mount Airy, but left at age 18, like many young people. But her hometown was never far from her heart.
“I traveled all over,” she said with a smile. “I’ve lived in Hawaii, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona, but I got to the point that I wanted to come home. I love this place.”
So she returned, and brought her enthusiasm for yoga with her.
“For me, it had such a profound effect on my body that my mission became to share it as a means of maintaining the health of the mind, spirit and body,” she said. “Many people associate yoga with stretching, but it’s also about breathing, calming the mind and strengthening the vital areas of the body.”
After years as a practitioner, White created her own style of yoga, which she touts as a way to channel the body’s energy in a positive manner.
Known as Samdhaana, which translates to “a practice of healing,” the new style of exercise is taking off.
“I founded it,” White said modestly. “It is a style of yoga that works on the energetic aspects of the pose and what energy supports that pose in practice. We sequence classes that support the body’s energy as well, so when you’re done with the class your body feels great.”
White said she has been a practitioner for 15 years, and knows what works for her.
“After some classes I felt great, and after others I didn’t feel so well,” she said. “I wanted to learn why, and was studying alternative medicine at the time, so I wanted to design the practice of yoga in such a way that it supports the body not only physically, but energetically as well.”
It seems to be working.
White opened up the Sacred Space, located at 229 Market Street in Mount Airy, last June, and says she has found her calling.
“When I realized I had something different from other classes, people began to take notice and they began to come to my classes because at the end they felt better,” she said. “I knew I had something, so I trademarked it and began teaching other teachers. I wanted to share with others what I’d discovered about the connection between the body, mind and spirit, and now there are students flying in from other states to learn. “
But that doesn’t mean her love of the practice has been overtaken by teaching. Or the bottom line.
“Things have been fantastic since I began practicing this style of yoga,” she said with an infectious grin. “I literally wake up ever day and hit the mat before I come to the studio, and the change is palpable. It’s like my body is being restored.
“That’s what yoga does for me, it restores, refreshes and renews the body.”
And she walked into the serenity of her studio, looked back and smiled.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.