Kendra Wilks' Journey to Professional Yoga Therapy
Hi, I'm Kendra Wilks. I am a mother of two, wife, physical therapist of 22 years, and orthopedic and pelvic health specialist. I love running, traveling, gardening, and of course yoga. I am beginning to love biking again.
This is my journey to Professional Yoga Therapy.
Five years ago, after I received the diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer, I found myself in a pretty scary place. I was a healthy and active 41 year old mother, wife, and physical therapist. I practiced yoga when convenient, ran marathons to my hearts content, short changed my sleep to be there for my family, kept my home tidy, and balanced my nutrition. I thought I was healthy and so did everyone else in my life. However, "health" is a very interesting word, I have decided.
After surgery and while undergoing chemotherapy I had to take a very close look at what true "health" really looked like. I couldn’t sustain my usual level of activity, so I dug out my yoga mat. So, instead of visiting my mat once a week, I visited it daily and walked in the woods. During this moment in my life, I began to realize that true health comes from a much deeper place than simply having a body that looks strong and is fed with vegetarian meals. In slowing down, I realized that true health originates from balancing mind, body, and spirit. While trying to be everything to everyone else, I missed the clues my physical body was giving me about how to nurture and protect my own health and spirit. Therefore, through my gentle yoga practice, I began to think differently about my health and true wellness.
I found Professional Yoga Therapy (PYT) while searching for a way to put words to what I was feeling. I wanted to be able to share with my patients this newfound insight of how to prevent disease and foster wellness. The PYT program was the perfect fit. As a physical therapist, I felt I needed an evidence-based science to defend what I was feeling and learning so that I could present the information to patients in a succinct and clinically relevant manner. I have found the PYT method to be just that; PYT is a way to care for myself and others in a holistic and preventative way.
Practicing yoga helped me to heal in so many ways. Once I became stronger, the next logical step was to take what I was learning and move off the mat. I found that practicing yoga off the mat was much harder for a Pitta like me. When it came to riding my bike again, I realized I still needed to improve in many areas, for example, in the areas of pranayama (breath control) and ahimsa (compassion towards oneself and others).
I think it is sometimes easy to feel safe on our mats with our body, thoughts, and comfortable environment. I felt like it became much harder to practice on my bike. I produced a video "Actually I Can Overcome" with Liv Cycling to help other women understand that mountain biking isn’t just for hard core racers or super fit people. Biking is for anyone who has the courage to try. There are many women supporting this effort to go out in nature and face their fears. I am learning that when we commit to challenge ourselves out in the world with an attitude of kindness and with a beginners mind, much like we do on our mats, a whole new level of joy becomes available to us.
I have so much gratitude for the many women I have met during my PYT journey. Their spirit of cooperation and kindness has been uplifting and inspiring. I am particularly grateful to Ginger Garner who put words and science together to support my intuition and feelings. Thank you for supporting me and walking alongside me in my journey. You breathed new life into my career. You humble me and I am forever grateful.
Kendra Wilks, PT, PYT-C
Watch Kendra's Liv Cycling video:
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