Inner Warrior - Anacortes Magazine - Art, Music, and Community

Inner Warrior

“I received the worst news of my life. My hands and feet went numb, my head felt disconnected and I knew I was going into psychogenic shock. I wasn’t breathing, I couldn’t. I dropped the phone and put myself in a tripod position taking deep breaths to gain control from the tools I had learned in class.” ~Giszelle, Yoga student at Maya Shakti

Anacortes… a community working together… to work things out.

We are individuals living and working together in a beautiful little town by the sea. It’s the stuff books are written with and movies are made of. From the outside looking in, it would appear that most of us live carefree, easy lives.

Each of us has personal struggles invisible to others. Under the surface each person carries with them stories and experiences that have a ripple effect on everybody around them, from their immediate circle of friends and family and out to other members of the community.

We are fortunate to live in an area with not just resources available to help those in need, we are unique because as residents of Anacortes, we are familiar with each other’s faces as we carry on with our business from day to day. We pass the same people on the streets, and in our local restaurants and coffee shops. When there is a need for support in the community, our residents open up and step up in the way they know how with their particular strengths and offerings. There is a coordination of physical and mental energies dancing together collectively toward real life solutions.

Each person who enters through the doors at Maya Shakti Yoga Studio has a unique story and reason for being here.

It’s my job to hear your story, understand your needs, and support you on your journey through Yoga, Life Coaching, and any other healing modality I’m qualified to offer.

Each person is different. Your Yoga practice will be customized to meet you where you are. I can assist you with setting realistic goals, and to facilitate your healing journey in the way you choose.

Maya Shakti is more than Yoga. It is a personalized transformative experience tailored to your specific needs.

I was reminded of the power of this practice when a student found herself in a situation where she had to rely on the tools she learned through her Yoga practice.

Giszelle first came to me seeking a way to manage symptoms of PTSD and to improve her overall health.

A testimony to the empowering benefits of Yoga from Giszelle as she navigates her young daughter and herself through the most difficult time of their lives:

“I started seeing Dawn as both a mentor and for fitness.

I had gone to my doctor for having an extremely high heart rate while my blood pressure was sky rocketing from stress. It was interrupting the activities of my daily living and I needed help. I was worried, stressed and had PTSD.

My doctor prescribed low dose medications for a minimum of 6 months that would make me feel a bit numb for the time being and would help temporarily. She also said to seek counseling and exercise as a medication will only help physically. I needed to gain control mentally.

Irie-KevinMy daughter was also having problems. She is 10 and was having breakouts of cold sores from stress. My doctor told me to teach her stress management which wasn’t something I knew how to do for myself.

I took a mindfulness workshop with Dawn on calming techniques and awareness.

In the class I learned that our brains can go into fight or flight from our thoughts and can’t tell the difference between an actual threat and threatening memories. It’s basically like a computer. What you type in, is what the screen will show you.

I learned that deep breathing can help kick your body out of fight or flight and go back to normal. And with each breath to say positive words. I learned that a lot of depression stems from thinking about the past and anxiety is worrying about the future.

This developed in me as a secondary form of PTSD while married to my ex-husband. He was a soldier who went through two very difficult deployments that took its toll.

While on one of those deployments he called me from Iraq. It was April 29th of 2009 here, almost April 30th in Iraq with the time difference. The call I received changed my world. I was terrified from the conversation he might hurt himself, us, or someone else. I contacted his sergeant and asked for him to be put on a suicide watch. He was angry, wrote back the 29th of April that having his command sergeant say he was suicidal was comical, and he would be filing for a divorce when he came home. That was 6 years ago and for 6 years I have battled my own mind every day. I developed PTSD the same as he had.

April 29th of this year, even with medications I couldn’t get my heart rate down. My heart was beating at 131 beats per minute for absolutely no reason. When your heart jumps over 100 beats per minute, you don’t think clear. Fingers, toes and forehead will tingle because your blood is going to your major organs preparing for a fight or a flight. Sometimes you can even pass out which is just your body rebooting. I was at my mom’s that night and at 31 years old, I crawled in her lap crying that I couldn’t calm down. She prayed for me and that night I decided it would be good to go to yoga with Dawn the following day.

April 30th while in yoga with Dawn, I successfully was able to pose and override the pain, and focus on my breathing. I was finally calm again. It was needed and I felt some control again. I thanked her for the class and went to Storvick Park to watch my son play soccer. When I got to the field I saw I missed several calls from my ex-husband’s family.

When I got ahold of my sister in law, I received the worst news of my life. My hands and feet went numb, my head felt disconnected and I knew I was going into psychogenic shock. I wasn’t breathing, I couldn’t. I dropped the phone and put myself in a tripod position taking deep breaths to gain control from the tools I had learned in class. All I could say to my sister in law was, “How am I going to tell my daughter? How could he leave me to tell her that?”

Irie-flagOn April 30th of 2015, the father of my child, the man who was my husband at one time and my childhood friend died by a gunshot wound to the head. He died by suicide from battling PTSD for years. The day before he died, April 29th, he went to the VA for help with his medications. They weren’t helping, the same as mine weren’t the day before. You know I don’t think he wanted to die that day, he just couldn’t live with the pain anymore.

Many people battle mental problems. Bones break, bladders get infections, any stress on your body that outweighs your resources will cause a problem. Your brain is no different and is just as susceptible as any other organ in your body.

There are medications that help but learning to retrain yourself, love yourself, control your feelings and thoughts and be present is a tool I learned in class through Dawn. It’s a wonderful program and this is my testimony to her business.

Thank you Dawn. You’re a great teacher.”

Thank you Giszelle for your inspiring presence at Maya Shakti Yoga Studio and your outward focus in the community, helping others in pain when they need to feel heard. You exemplify the inner warrior in all of us, by digging deep into your reserves, pulling out your inner strength and resolve, and moving forward with purpose every day. You are a valuable piece of our community, transforming your pain into a positive force to empower others, creating that ripple effect that just keeps going and going.

~Dawn Marie, owner, Maya Shakti Yoga Studio

Tools like Yoga Nidra Meditation with a restorative Yoga practice can be crucial resources for soldiers and their families adjusting to life after war. Many soldiers are coming back from combat with physical, psychological, and mental wounds. As Giszelle shared, there are medications that help, however, learning to retrain yourself, love yourself, control your thoughts and feelings, and being present are valuable tools to support both the physical body and the emotional mind.

Anacortes…a community assisting…overcoming…integrating…helping others.

To learn more about Dawn Marie and resources available call 360-299-3200 or visit

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