We sat down (virtually) with Kyuri Lin, a California-based yoga therapist, to talk about all things yoga, cannabis, and how to help people feel their best.
She goes in depth on how yoga became her anchor and surviving cervical cancer before the age of 30. Kyuri is a woman warrior and we're honored to share her story.
André: Let’s start at the top, please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do in general.
Kyuri: So my name is Kyuri, Kyuri Lin if you want to incorporate my last name and I am a yoga therapist. A yoga therapist is different from yoga as a whole, because I work one-on-one with people who have everything from musculoskeletal issues, physical or chronic pain, stress management, post-injury recovery, and concussions, to name a few. We create an adaptive practice that is tailored specifically to the individual. Basically, I help people feel their best.
A: It sounds like you’re mixing yoga with physical therapy. I know there’s a lot more to yoga than just the physical practice most of us are familiar with. Can you give us an overview?
K: I think everyone has their own definition because it’s such a broad practice. Essentially, for me, yoga is taking in all the different aspects of wellness. Physical wellness is just one aspect, which is the side that the West or the U.S. typically tends to focus on. Outside of India, Western practices have embraced a correlation between yoga and the physical realm, but there is a whole other side to yoga that most people don't really look into. This includes breathing techniques, down-regulating the nervous system, and pain management. People build confidence when they learn how to sit with themselves and their thoughts. and implementing practices such as chanting or singing. All of these different aspects of yoga can benefit the mind, body, and soul. Realizing that yoga is 1% fitness and 99% healing, I started becoming really interested in how yoga can compliment the practices already being done, such as chiropractic or physical therapy.
A: What is one of the healing methods you believe is most unique to yoga?
Breathing. It’s something your body does without you ever having to consciously think about it. When you start thinking about your breath and the quality of your breath, you realize the power of breath and how it influences so many different aspects of your life. Notice your breath when you’re angry or stressed, your breath is short. You can physically see it when someone is angry, they’re literally huffing and puffing. Now look at someone who is calm, you see the opposite. You can see them feeling calm and at peace. With that being said, there’s a lot of things your breath is able to tell you if you pay attention.
A: I’ve done a couple breathwork courses. It was like this pulsating full body experience that I was not expecting.
K: It’s almost like you feel high without actually being high.
A: Speaking of high, how'd you cross paths with the cannabis plant?
K: I’m not gonna lie, my beginning experience wasn’t great only because I didn’t have enough education on dosage. Everyone’s body handles it differently and I guess I was more sensitive to it. My friends were taking huge bong rips and anytime I would take a rip I would literally get the spins and end up throwing up. So I actually didn't have a relationship with it until I was 26.
Around that time I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. They basically said that I had to go through a procedure that would make it really difficult to have kids in the future. I didn’t really want kids, but I think just the idea of not being able to have them or having that option taken away scared me.
When I was first diagnosed, I wasn't living a very healthy lifestyle. I had bad habits just like everyone else. I have an addictive personality. I was hooked on cigarettes for a really long time, that was a big coping mechanism for me at the time. It was by chance that Yoga, vegetarianism, and cannabis all came together for me during this time. I don't believe it was any one thing that helped me overcome my cancer. I believe the lifestyle shift, the amount of self care and exercise I began to incorporate into my life and a change in attitude were a huge part of my healing. I've been cancer free since 29. So it's been about four years now.
I still take some form of cannabis almost on a daily basis and I don’t see myself going back.
A: You mentioned finding yoga and cannabis during the same time period. They definitely seem to compliment each other. Let’s begin with the yoga, how did your journey begin and where did it take you?
K: I’ve heard a lot of stories about why people come to yoga. A lot of people bring it back to pain, fitness, or an outlet during hard times. It wasn’t any different for me. I went through a really hard breakup, and I realized that I was living my entire life based on another person and not for myself. I was living on auto-pilot and when I began yoga I realized it was the one thing I was doing for myself. It became my anchor. I had a moment of realization that this was what I wanted. If yoga could help me this much, I could share with others and potentially help them too. This new direction led to quitting my job, packing my bags and moving from Orange County to LA. It was hard at first, but I was determined to let go of things that didn’t suit me. Once I made the choice to commit to this, it has supported me ever since. I guess I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.
A: Please tell us about your wellness regimen and how you integrate cannabis into it. Do you believe cannabis and yoga work in tandem together? Why or why not?
K: I practice yoga every day because I teach every day and I don't want to be the type of teacher that doesn't practice what they preach. I always like to take at least 10 to 15 minutes just to be alone with my thoughts with no distractions. I try to eat as clean as I can, you know, as humans, we're not perfect. There needs to be a balance of healthy and happy indulgences, as well as eating healthy in a way that feels right for you. I'm like 95% vegetarian. I'll have meat on the occasion when my body feels like it craves it, but I try to be as eco-conscious as possible. I try to minimize the amount of products that I use on my skin because our skin is our biggest organ and it does absorb a lot . As for cannabis, I don’t typically smoke during the day. I stick to indica-dominant strains in the evening, especially after a really hard workout. I also use a topical after a hot bath, it’s the best way to end the day!
A: Do you feel a responsibility to push the cannabis conversation further?
K: You know, I feel like cannabis is misunderstood, so a conversation needs to be pushed. There's an innate fear that people feel when confronted with things that they don't understand. That’s why being able to have these conversations and understanding different perspectives is so important. There’s so many different forms of cannabis and how you can take it. The benefits can outweigh the risk a lot of the time. Anything misunderstood just needs more education.
A: Lastly, is there any lesson that you can share with us from your journey with self-love?
K: I’ve learned that if self love isn't something that was taught to you at an early age, it's difficult to learn on your own as an adult. As humans, we feel a lot. We find ourselves seeking a lot of external validation, and that is a form of love as well, but can you still love yourself when those things are taken away? That is the real question. If you have not been living life in alignment with your morals, values and passions, there’s always struggle and internal resistance, and that can be difficult. Resentment builds just like any other relationship, but the relationship with yourself encompasses all of those different aspects.
And so for me, I think self-love is the full acceptance of who you are as a human being, your flaws and all because we are all flawed otherwise we'd be God. Being able to accept all of the different aspects of yourself, in my opinion, can really bring about change in how you feel about yourself and how you walk through life. You can't put yourself in a place of value and allow people to treat you in a respectful way or be good to yourself if you don't feel like you deserve it.
We are proud to have Kyuri as part of the Care By Design community and look forward to future articles written by Kyuri on health, happiness, and wellness!
For more on Kyuri Lin follow her on Instagram: @kyurious.anahata