Inspiring Passion

Inspiring Passion

Posted by Osi Mizrahi on

Osi has a passion for life. An internationally celebrated yoga teacher, Osi delights in delivering playful and dynamic asana coupled with yogic wisdom and personal insight into her yoga classes. She teaches in studios and workshops both here and abroad and is a certified Shambhala meditation guide and Kundalini yoga teacher. Often described as a “desert flower”, her Middle Eastern roots embellish her classes with spirituality, music, and global spirit. Osi enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking, listening to music, rock climbing, traveling and exploring different cultures. As an entrepreneur, she runs Osi Living, a lifestyle company designed to guide women towards a harmonious life of robust health, joy, and meaning.

Company Background Story
No Stomach For the Diagnosis

As I look back I see snapshots of my illness on a path not well illuminated or understood. For years, I had aches and stomach pains. It was something I ate. It was the flu. It was a difficult pregnancy. All of these explanations had masked the truth of a serious medical condition. The “quiet” periods erased the memory of the pain, discomfort and shame. Until, slowly, there were no quiet periods. The digestive problems were virtually constant. At times, I would have to rest just to be able to walk. After my second pregnancy, the anxiety and emotional stress made things even worse. But as a mom with a two-year-old son and an infant, I had few free moments for healing. I would somehow “live with it” and “figure things out.” Another child 15 months later placed my body under more stress. I just wanted to feel normal, but I couldn’t remember what “normal” was. What could I eat that wouldn’t make me sick? What could I drink? When would this end?

Yoga and mediation helped by calming my body and my soul. The more I embraced yoga, the better I felt. There was less noise. The pain was dulled. I found the path to “normal” through yoga, education, and finding the light on that road. I needed to learn more about these things that made me feel better. So in 2000, I started studies with John Friend and became a certified yoga teacher in 2008.

As a Kundalini instructor and a Shambhala meditation guide, I’ve helped hundreds of people find ways to recapture their essence and define their journey. I believe God dwells within us, and that we are all spiritual beings. We can see our world through the eyes of shimmering possibility. This is the shiva drishti. My practice helps people connect to their higher self, turn down the noise and listen to the heart. The Sanskrit word lila is a concept in Hinduism that literally means play. Through a joyful embrace of the universe, I try to infuse every day with this intention…

However, shortly after a vacation in St. Thomas with my husband and three boys, my health again spiraled downward. I’d bounced back before. It was just another episode. It would pass.

I could barely drag myself out of bed. I couldn’t get my kids ready in the morning, let alone teach yoga. Fighting nausea, I could barely drink water. Two colonoscopies and a minor surgery later, I was told it was only inflammation.

More illness and tests… Ulcerative colitis? Probably not. Crohn’s Disease? No. Irritable bowel? Too low down in the intestine. Lyme’s Disease? Not this time. Nothing was for sure. Antibiotics, cortisone and medications initially helped calm the symptoms, but I was sicker than ever before.

Soon only warm baths calmed my stomach and gave me a few moments of relief. But one weekend was unusually bad. I couldn’t even drink water without vomiting. I settled into a bath, hoping to ease the pain. I could barely hold my head up. But suddenly I smelled roses, the fragrance of my childhood… the fragrance of afternoons in my grandmother’s garden back in Israel. I felt her presence with me, urging me to get to a hospital.

That night my husband rushed me to St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, 35 miles away.

On the way to the hospital I was lifeless. That was a really dark time. No light in my soul. Everything was so dark. On the path of yoga, I have studied to have faith and see the light, but at that moment, there was no light. It felt like there was no God. But I prayed and asked for help. I really asked for help.

“I see you are in a lot of pain,” said the nurse in the ER, holding my hand. “For your suffering, let me give you some morphine.” I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t want to put that drug in my body.” Even at that moment I was resisting letting someone else take care of me. I don’t know how to explain it a different way, but then I let go, as if letting the universe hold me, and the pain eased. A shift occurred. I surrendered.

A worried parade of doctors began ordering tests and a CAT scan. They prescribed steroids and more heavy-duty medications. As the eleventh doctor stood bedside and pushed my IV bag aside to palpate my stomach, I shuddered. Nothing said, but his anxious look conveyed something really horrific about my condition. In a short time, I went from 122 to 108 pounds.

The medical specialist told me I likely had Crohn’s Disease, a diagnosis I’d heard before. He explained how this autoimmune disease attacks the body’s intestinal tract and affects some 500,000 Americans, often starting in young people. No surgical or pharmaceutical cure exists. “You’ll have to be on medication for the rest of your life,” he said. “But you’re stable for now.”

I’m grateful to Western medicine for saving my life, I remember thinking, but this is NOT a long-term solution for me.

Fortunately, my kula, or community of friends, supported me. They dropped off orchids and miniature roses, carpooled and brought dinner, and repeated reassuring words so often that they soon became a mantra, “You will get better.” I regained clarity and regained a lot of peace. My heart was completely open with all the love pouring into me from my community, from my husband, from my children. The love kept me going. And during this time of love and healing I came back to my essence, and my truth of who I am and what I believe. I slowed down. I realized I needed to be more present. I needed to simplify my life. The days can move so fast, but we really don’t need to do that much. That is what I realized.

When recovering from illness, the body benefits from basic yoga, meditation, and a restorative raw macrobiotic diet. More benefits come from 40 days of Kundalini kriyas. A holistic doctor supported my decision to stop using steroids and other drugs.

One night after I had made these lifestyle changes, I had a very vivid dream. A crawling bug, no doubt representing the disease, was being removed from my body. As I gently slept, it was as if my cells were telling me that my illness was gone. Vanished. I still can’t explain how something as serious as Crohn’s could simply disappear.

I realized, however, I still needed to do more to restore my weakened intestines and improve overall health. This led me on a quest to heal myself deeply through diet. As I resumed teaching yoga, I set time aside to investigate—and follow—nutritional advice.

Soon I was healthier, stronger. Ah ha, I thought, it’s time to begin planting bijas, or the seeds of new ideas, to enhance my highest self. I wanted to take my yoga practice back to my roots in Israel, where I’d lived until I was 18, and follow a more global practice.

As for those bijas, about a year ago I taught downward dogs and fun yoga poses to children in Israeli orphanages. One autumn in Paris, accompanied by six of my yoga students, I kicked into a joyful handstand one night after dinner (and wine!), the Eiffel Tower glittering behind me… 
In playing the balance between being the “co-creator of your life,” where you live with intention and commitment, and “surrender,” you can align yourself with a gentler flow of what is possible. It’s like a cup that is not full or empty. A cup that has enough “food” to feed your soul, and not too full that you can’t see your blessing. 
And guess what? No life-threatening illness is needed to embrace such a shift.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson, is a best-selling author and speaker.

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