From OM: A story of Recovery and Strength

From OM

A story of Recovery and Strength - By Leeanne Harris

Reading time: 4 minutes

In a world of wellness and self-discovery, there are few figures as inspiring and transformative as "Yoga with Curvaceous Carla". Her journey from "Oh..." to "Om" serves as a beacon of hope and empowerment for individuals seeking healing and strength through yoga and determination. From living the high-life as a professional dancer to suddenly being forced to change carreer due to a work related injury.

A near death experience is when Carla began to truly appreciate and honour her body for all that it was capable of. Here she explains how Yoga became her sanctuary, a sacred space where she could shed the weight of societal expectations and reconnect with her true self. 

"Before I was a yoga teacher, I was a professional dancer. I lived the high life, dancing around the world on cruise liners, in the west end and featured in 22 music videos. I’ve danced for celebrities such as Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams and the Spice Girls.

I was living every 20 something dancer's dream! But such a physically demanding career eventually took its toll on my body and the cartilage in my right hip had worn down, meaning at the age of 46 I needed a full hip replacement. Wait, what...! A whole hip replacement? No, it can’t be, I’m not 80!  

On the evening of my surgery. I woke up on the floor, 6 nurses rushing around trying to get me back on the bed and connected to a monitor. I could see the panic on their faces. At that moment I thought I had died. It turns out, I have high blood pressure. I passed out and fell to the floor.

I was not dead, but in that terrifying moment, I had an epiphany, I decided when I recovered to never take my life or movement for granted. I am going to live in the moment and show up more fully for myself in my life’s work as a yoga and wellness therapist & instructor.  

I was on a mission to Rise back like a Phoenix.  

It was a tough year of recovery at the beginning, healing scar tissue, and repairing muscles. I was in a wheelchair, hardly able to move. I was beside myself. I was always so active and here I am, learning how to walk again.  

I had always practiced yoga during my dancing career and so I focused over the next 3 months on the power & wonders of yoga, and other holistic practices, reiki, crystal healing, and meditation. I channelled all the skills it gives us to help with life’s challenges, to heal and improve my mobility to get myself back to teaching yoga full time.  

I started teaching chair yoga to begin with to gain strength, then when I was able to physically get up and down from the ground, I began to teach Yin Yoga which helped me emotionally and mentally to be kind and gentle with my body and tune back in & come home to oneself.   

My yoga clients and community have been amazing, and I believe that having been through surgery has made me even more real and my class courses and retreat numbers are through the roof with each one fully booked! Being my authentic self has made me feel more confident about myself and helping others and I believe I’m a better teacher because of it.

I have even more empathy for my clients with injuries and issues. I constantly remind my participants to do as much or as little as their bodies want them to do. To listen to their bodies! Who knew that being part robot would make me more REAL?  

Of course, there were dark times when I thought I was “broken” and nobody would want to practice with me as I wouldn’t be able to demonstrate bigger poses and balances such as king dancer, eagle pose half-moon etc.  I thought I would have to give up my business as a full time Yoga and Wellbeing Coach. I had been comparing myself to the other insta yoga teachers and got myself in a place of fear. That I didn’t have a size 8/10 body or do a handstand with my foot in my mouth! 

Don’t get me wrong there are all types of Yoga for all types of people, but my ego voice was trying to control my fate.  

But I had this other voice too, my truth, my authentic self in my mind reminding me to listen to my heart and that I AM a real yoga teacher for real people and for real life.   

I have always said that my brand ”Curvaceous Carla” is about CELEBRATING ourselves, our bodies and meeting ourselves exactly as we are - perfectly imperfect, when we roll out the mat in my practice. And now this couldn’t be more accurate.

Many yogis out there are dealing with all kinds of pain, injuries, ailments, & are facing dealing with or recovering from surgery. I can recall so many times when I’ve taught a class of 20/25 people and at least 30/40% have spoken to me about a problem, frozen shoulders, painful knees, hips, wrists, feeling depressed, emotional, having bad backs, the list is endless!   

 I am grateful for the surgery, and I am back stronger than ever with a louder message that YOGA IS FOR All, if you have a body, you can do yoga. There is an aspect or style of yoga for us all. Whether you are only physically able to take part in Meditation or Pranayama and chair or floor-based classes. I have got you (we the yoga community have got you)   

After a while teaching chair*, meditation, Yin & Restorative Yoga (kinder to my body) I was eventually able to teach Flow Yoga with more modifications and adaptations being offered in my practice than ever before. I think it made me more mindful. We should never forget we are always evolving and adapting.   

But this is the exciting bit...  

With both dance and yoga being my life's two main passions. You will not begin to imagine my excitement when I found KUNDA DANCE®!   

This year, I flew all the way out to Copenhagen to meet the founder of Kunda Dance® Maya Fiennes, a great pioneer of Yoga, and take part in the Kunda Dance® training.   

The phoenix has risen, and I am back to my happy place dancing again!  

I am now thrilled to be a pioneer for her Kunda Dance® actively teaching it in the U.K. to my yoga community who love it as much as I do. I am so honoured that Maya has asked me to assist her in London on 8th June this year for her European Kunda Dance teacher training Tour.  And we are also hosting a Kundalini and Kunda Dance “Awaken and Elevate Retreat Day” on 9th June @ Solent Hotel & Spa in Whiteley. How lucky that we have her coming to Portsmouth to share her energy and expertise with us. I feel so grateful am I’m SO excited for this. Please visit my website for more info.

Maya’s written a book called Yoga for Real life and that’s what I believe has connected the two of us, we have bonded as women on a mission to celebrate joy. I am even featured on her website too, and I feel so honoured to be connecting and working with her again soon. 

I am now also embarking on the Kundalini teacher training, with Maya Fiennes starting in March as I feel I am ready to fly to the highest mountain peaks with my yoga practice and my message - watch this space!   

This year also marks my decade as a yoga instructor and even more reason to celebrate as things could have been very different. So, if you are struggling, or you feel you want to give up. Just know that you can do it and rise from the ashes like a beautiful Phoenix. If I can do it, anyone can!

*commission earned from this link.

Leeanne Harris

Leeanne is a passionate nature lover, yoga enthusiast, sustainable business owner and virtual assistant.