Michele was injured in a car accident in 1993. She found practicing yoga helped heal her neck injury, eliminate chronic low back pain and manage anxiety. After practicing yoga for three years, she desired to share her discovery with others. She enrolled in a 500 hour teacher training program with the American Viniyoga Institute taught by internationally renowned yoga therapist Gary Kraftsow.
When Michele completed her teacher training, she felt called to share the gift of yoga on a full-time basis. She left her college administrator job in the Twin Cities and moved to southeastern Minnesota to start a business, Bluff Country Yoga, teaching yoga at several senior centers and a hospital. Financially, it was a risky decision, but she listened to her heart and took the plunge. After nearly 20 years, she has never looked back.
Michele completed her yoga therapy training with Gary 2010 and was hired by the Mayo Clinic Health System, as a yoga therapist in the Integrative Medicine and Health Department, where she offers one-on-one yoga therapy sessions and small group yoga therapy classes for a variety of health conditions. She has a special interest in working with patients with Type II diabetes and has offered classes designed a curriculum to utilize the tools of yoga therapy for blood sugar management. She is currently working with Mayo Clinic on a research pilot study that will evaluate the impact of yoga therapy in managing blood glucose levels for patients with Type II Diabetes. For Mayo’s Rehabilitation Services department, Michele teaches yoga therapy classes as part of their Cardiac and Pulmonary rehabilitation program.
Within the Mayo Clinic Hospice program, Michele uses yoga therapy and healing touch therapy for end of life comfort care with an emphasis on compassion, reducing suffering and improving quality of life for hospice patients. Her work has resulted in patients finding improved pain management, less anxiety and depression, and relief from shortness of breath. For families of hospice patients, Michele offers yoga therapy for stress, relief and grief support.
After ten years working with hospice patients and their families, Michele has been awed by the many benefits yoga therapy can provide patients and their families. While many hospice programs commonly offer massage and music therapy, few offer yoga therapy. She has given presentations to many Hospice programs’ staff and has been a speaker at the Minnesota Network of Hospice & Palliative Care annual conference to educate hospice professionals about the benefits of yoga therapy for hospice patients. She is also educating her yoga therapy colleagues about the great need for yoga therapy in Hospice and Palliative care. Her hope is that yoga therapy will become a standard service offered in Hospice for comfort care.
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