The truth about why I’m not currently teaching, And what is up with those knuckles?

I’d imagine you are all wondering why I'm doing downward dog on my knuckles in this picture.  Well honestly, this is how I did downward dog all of 2016, after I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  People still hit me up asking when my classes are and the truth is, I haven't taught a single class since the end of 2015, when my body started freaking out and basically attacking itself.  I practice and teach Buti yoga, which is equally as demanding on the instructor as on the student. Simply calling out poses would not work for this practice, I need to be sharing my energy and my body with my tribe as the leader. So I found myself pulling away from teaching to try and heal and seek a way to find balance in my new life. Presently, my yoga practice is solely for myself, for maintaining my body, mind and spirit.


The story and the start of the crazy yoga knuckles began in a very major way during Christmas & the New Year of 2015 into 2016.  I was travelling to see my family in New York State for the holidays and my right wrist had begun to bother me before I even left Dallas.  I had been working too many hours between my 9-5 & my side-hustle trying to wrap up things so that I could actually enjoy the holidays that year.  When my wrist & hand started to bother me I just wrote it off as overuse and just kept on.  The pain ended up turning me into a complete hot-mess throughout the entire holiday. So I planned to see a doctor as soon I returned to Dallas. I had to get these wrists checked out.


Finally, when I told the doctor my symptoms, he insisted on a blood check for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Obviously I was deeply upset by this.  My cousin struggled with RA for many years and I saw her cope through so much suffering and pain. That was all I could imagine for myself at that point.  


That night, my shoulder completely locked-up on me. When I woke up in the morning, I couldn't even lift my arm over my head to do my own hair in the shower and  had to stay home sick from work. One of my dear close friends sent her boyfriend over, to my house that day to try and unlock my shoulder. Tre Bradley, a Corrective Exercise Therapist ( was at my house for close to 3 hours massaging out knots and having me do stretching exercises to unlock my shoulder.  While a huge help, I found no lasting relief.  My shoulders proceeded to lock up at least once a  week for the rest of that month.  Needless to say, I didn't practice yoga, let alone teach at all in January.

I finally decided to go back to my yoga practice in February 2016 after my chiropractor told me that exercise was the best medicine for the disease.  He stressed that movement was important to lubricate the joints and help the blood flow.  I just had  so much arthritis in my wrists that it made doing very basic yoga postures that were once so fundamental and simple incredibly difficult.  


I started off doing poses on my forearms, like dolphin, that required me to be off my hands to avoid putting any pressure on my wrists.  I wore braces all the time to support my wrists in practice.  Then, at some point in my struggle, a yoga teacher told me that many people with issues like mine do poses on their knuckles to take the pressure off of their wrists.  From that point forward, for the rest of 2016, I was doing many of my poses on my fists.  Here comes the down dog knuckles… By the end of the year I made myself a promise that I would slowly start retraining by body to do down-dog on my hands again. I was really concerned about losing the muscle memory from doing it on my fists for so long.

This transition from teacher and back to student again, and from normal and pain-free to being a prisoner in my own body was by far, the most humbling experience that I have struggled with in my life to date. I went from practicing everyday and leading others, to suddenly  not being able to do fundamental movements like down-dog on my hands or a proper chaturanga push-up. That struggle was only compounded by the fact that it virtually came out of nowhere. It was very difficult for me mentally but I was deeply grateful that it wasn't any worse, because it definitely could have been.  I really wasn't having trouble with any of the joints on my lower body like many of the other RA sufferers I talk to, for that, I was super thankful even though I was still in a lot of constant pain.  


Because of this journey and for this journey, I am relaunching The Fashionista Yogi website as a place where I will be documenting my stories. I will be sharing any and all healing remedies that have helped me, and providing inspirational information through interviews with others sharing their truths, struggles, failures, and successes.   There will also be a “Forums” section where you too may feel inclined to and are so welcomed to share your truth or seek knowledge from others.  


I was inspired to do all of this at the end of 2016. As I looked back at the year, I realized what a difference the second half was from the first six months of the year.  I have learned so much in my experience with pain and my struggles with RA that I felt it was important to share this knowledge with others who may be suffering and feel like they have no place to look for guidance and understanding.  The relaunched site will also have Fashionista Yogi apparel & accessories so that you too can show the world that you are indeed a Fashionista Yogi!  Namaste.



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  • Thank you for the honesty and encouragement. I enjoyed speaking with you on the phone. I hope your Mom gets better soon. Take it easy. Talk to me when you are rested after you get back.

    Debra Tiegreen

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