Friday, January 10, 2014

Rec&Ed yoga student's "will to live well" defeats medical challenges

Guest blogger Victoria Cendrowski, Fitness Supervisor and Yoga Instructor 

Lynda Asher is truly an inspiration. I met Lynda in 2001 when she enrolled in my Yoga Pilates class. She told me she had recently undergone liver transplant surgery. Lynda had lost her liver due to hepatitis C, contracted after receiving a blood transfusion from a serious car accident at age eight. 

Little did I know that this surgery was just the first in a series of medical battles that Lynda would survive with her steadfast "will to live well." Let me tell you her story.

Ann Arbor residents may recognize Lynda's name from her many contributions to our community. Prior to her transplant surgery, she ran Project Grow Community GardensShe then founded a non-profit called ISLAND – the Institute for Sustainable Lifestyles and Natural Development. Later, she provided support to liver patients locally and around the globe through another organization she founded.

Lynda enjoying Rec&Ed's new
paddleboard yoga class

Photo credit: Dwight Cendrowski.
At her first Yoga Pilates class, Lynda stood next to me so I could show her how to modify the poses to her comfort level. Over the coming weeks, she gained strength and flexibility. In addition to her yoga practice through Rec&Ed, she is a vegetarian, meditates and does Tai Chi. 

Unfortunately, the many drugs needed to support her liver transplant and suppress Hepatitis C led to other life-threatening medical issues. Astonishingly, in the past decade, Lynda has survived two liver transplants, quadruple heart bypass surgery, kidney failure and lung cancer.

Through it all, Lynda has remained dedicated to using yoga as a way to grow stronger and more fulfilled. She's always willing to try something new in the Rec&Ed Fitness and Yoga program. This past summer, we both added Paddleboard Yoga to our weekly yoga practice (see photo)! 

"Yoga has helped me recuperate and stay healthy on many levels," Lynda told me recently. "For starters, your class was walking distance from my house, when I wasn't even allowed to drive. My body was wounded from the original surgery. Yoga helped stretch out my muscles, ligaments, tendons and skin. It helped with my balance and my confidence.  It also helped me get strong in a managed environment." 

It's true -- I've watched Lynda grow stronger and more confident in my classes these past 12 years. She's also more flexible and has more stamina, better balance and body alignment. When I first met her, she was somewhat bent over, but now stands tall with great posture.

Of course, Lynda hopes for a cure to Hepatitis C. Her wish appears to be coming true. She is currently participating in a drug trial for a cure and the results look promising. Recently, the polymerase inhibitor in her drug trial was approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration. Within the next 18 months, experts expect to release an oral treatment for hepatitis C with minimal side effects. 

Lynda has beaten the odds by making a habit of wellness practices that can help us all live longer, healthier and happier lives: eating healthy, walking regularly, learning new things, contributing to the community, and practicing yoga, tai chi, and meditation. 

I'm proud and honored to know Lynda. She's certainly taught me as much as I've taught her. Her "will to live well" inspires me every day.

Build your own "will to live well" this winter!  Register for a Rec&Ed's winter yoga and fitness classes here

Want to learn more about how Rec&Ed's yoga and fitness program can benefit you? Email me at

Guest blogger Victoria Cendrowski, M.Ed., has been teaching many forms of dance, fitness and yoga since 1971. Victoria has championed wellness programming at Rec&Ed since she began as Fitness Supervisor in 1990, and she continuously looks for new types of fitness opportunities for beginners  and veteran participants. See related blog about Karma Yoga, which she offers monthly with her daughter Chelsea. 

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