In my early 20's I was a high school teacher. I taught in an overcrowded school in South Carolina, with 35 students in each class. The school was a poor rural school, and many of the students came to me with very different values and a very different way of life than I had grown up with. Violence could break out at a moment's notice! The students came to me with very serious personal problems that I was not trained or equipped as a 23 year old art teacher, to help them face. I came home every day very stressed and depleted! One day I came across a magazine article about yoga, and it explained and depicted 5 or 6 yoga poses. I tore out the article and came home every day from teaching and practiced the poses. I got to where I could hold them longer and longer. I noticed I felt better, less stressed, stronger, firmer and more relaxed. I finally went and bought my first yoga book, called Sivananda Yoga. Page by page, I taught myself the poses. Once I became pregnant with my first child, I let yoga fall by the wayside...
However, it was not long after becoming a young mom, when I got a severe case of food poisoning at an upscale Italian restaurant. This illness evolved into a severe case of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). With the IBS, I was in terrible pain from morning to night with intestinal cramping. While my toddler napped, I curled up into a ball, praying she would sleep so I could just deal with the pain. When I ate the pain would worsen, and anything I ate would immediately be expelled from my body through diarrhea or vomiting. It was as if my body had determined that all food was the enemy and it rejected everything I put in my mouth! I could not keep food in long enough to digest or absorb it, and I became painfully thin. As I helplessly grew thinner and thinner, I became emaciated and it was terrifying to have no control over something as basic as eating and digestion. The worst part however, was the pain. I have had two children and experienced labor and childbirth twice. IBS was like being in labor 24 hours a day. I still remember the pain vividly! I could barely function, and was unable to sleep as the sharp cramping plagued me day and night. As sick as I was, the doctors were unable to help. At the time, there was very little that could be done to relieve IBS. Nothing they tried was effective. The doctors essentially gave up on me saying, "No one has ever died from IBS!"
After months of weakness, pain and frustration with conventional medicine's inability to help, I turned to alternative medicine, specifically Yoga, Ayurveda and hypnosis. I began to practice Yoga again and noticed it helped tremendously with the pain and cramping, and it helped ease the tension and stress that go along with illness and pain. It also allowed me to relax enough to get healing rest and sleep. Inspired by the results which accompanied Yoga, I began to read books on Ayurvedic healing. With determination, I adhered to the recommendations for healing IBS, and for the first time I began to improve! I was astounded that something so ancient could help me when modern medicine was incapable! I also underwent hypnosis with a licensed hypnotherapist who just happened to be my own dad! I felt empowered by taking charge of my own body and my own health, and within a year, I completely recovered. For some people, IBS is a crippling life-long illness. For me, this was the start of my journey into Yoga and Ayurveda, health and healing. It is from this place, where my passion for these ancient healing sciences has blossomed.
After healing completely, I went back to my old ways of eating, and became sporadic with my practice of Yoga. A year or so later I became pregnant. During my pregnancy I gained nearly 40 pounds. Convinced that it would again drop off quickly after the baby was born, I was devastated when that didn't happen. I tried every diet and extreme exercise regime du jour, but the weight did not budge! Finally, I turned back to that which had helped me in the past, Yoga and Ayurveda. Once again it worked! I now weigh what I weighed in high school, and I feel the best I have felt in my life. I have become so passionate about the Vedic healing sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda, that I became a certified Yoga instructor and Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor. I began to teach workshops to help others find their optimal weight, health, energy and vitality. This became quite popular and word quickly began to spread. A book began to unfold from these workshops, and incredibly the book seemed to write itself! It is my honor and pleasure to share with you the fruit of these experiences, 40 Days to Enlightened Eating.
Elise Cantrell CYT, ERYT 500, MAT
Elise holds a Master's Degree in Education from The University of South Carolina. Formerly a high school art teacher, Elise combines her background in teaching with her passion for yoga as a professionally certified yoga instructor. She has practiced and studied many lineages of yoga including Ashtangha, Anusaura, Bikram, Baptiste, Dru, Hatha, Iyengar, Kripalu, Sivananda and Vinyasa. Her teachings draw from the well-spring of each of these styles. Elise received her 200 hour YTT certification from White Lotus Institute in Santa Barbara, California, and her 500 hour level Certification at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.
Elise is a certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor via the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, NM. Elise is a level 2 Reiki practitioner, and a Certified Relax and Renew™, restorative yoga instructor.
Elise began practicing yoga over 20 years ago to help relieve stress as a high school teacher in a difficult school setting. As a young mother she used yoga and Ayurveda to heal from a chronic illness for which doctors gave her little hope. Since that time sharing the healing power of yoga and Ayurveda has developed into her greatest passion.
Elise began teaching yoga in Paris, France in 2006, and is currently the owner of Shining Lotus Yoga and Wellness in Kohler, Wisconsin. She is a happily married mother of 2 children. Elise is passionate about cooking and eating natural foods, and combined this knowledge with the healing sciences of yoga and ayurveda to develop a transformational eating plan. She began teaching this plan as a class to her students and was so inspired by the results they experienced, she developed a book. 40 Days to Enlightened Eating was released November, 2012.
Elise continues to regularly teach a 6 week course based on the book. Over the past couple of years other yoga studios around the country have begun to share 40 Days to Enlightened Eating as a class with overwhelmingly positive feedback.