BEING diagnosed with mild scoliosis when she was 17 did not become such a big deal for Joanna Christina Lizares-Co. The diagnosis did not stop her from continuing to be active in sports and physical activities in school.
Back when she was still younger, she was already into tennis, swimming, volleyball, ballet, and gymnastics. She grew up believing that her physical activities and active participation in sports have helped keep her scoliosis from progressing further.
“I never grew up thinking I was deformed or there was something wrong with me. I cannot remember the exact degrees but it was in its 20s. I was told that for as long as I stayed active and had a regular exercise program, I would be okay. I did get into weight training under a coach in a local gym,” Joanna shared.
Even with back pain caused by scoliosis, she continues to strive for physical fitness. It was in her 40s when she found herself fond of running. Her thoracic dextroscoliosis and lumbar levoscoliosis caused a significant leg-length difference which usually causes her injuries when she ran.
“It started with tendinitis, then illiotibial band syndrome, piriformis syndrome, then my kneecap was already acting up. It didn’t really help that I used a custom insole under one foot to even out my hips. I was in and out of physical therapy. In all these times, my back was fine but my legs were killing me. My physical therapist at one point suggested I do yoga to help my very stiff legs,” she said.
That was how she started her yoga journey. She clearly remembers how awkward and funny she looked on her first yoga sessions but competitive that she was, she decided to push through and master the poses. Eventually, she learned to love yoga and how it makes her feel good about her body. More importantly, she shares how yoga made her back stronger, more flexible, have a good posture, and pain-free. She has embraced yoga as her main fitness activity and let running go.
To deepen her practice, she decided to take Hatha Yoga classes under Dev Kapil in 2014. She continued to love yoga and mastering the craft that not long after her class with Dev Kapil she was offered a regular yoga teaching position at Holiday Gym, where she used to start learning yoga.
“I took that challenge and started teaching hatha basics for beginners because I was eager to help people who had no experience with the yoga practice, people who considered themselves unfit, weak, with physical conditions, and yes, those with scoliosis,” said Joanna.
“In 2016, I got certified to teach prenatal yoga and a year after that, I opened my own studio, Yoga Jo. My classes have evolved into hatha flow, which is currently my most attended class. I still teach beginner’s class and also handle other specialized classes,” she added.
Now, with the city under quarantine amid the Covid-19 situation, Joanna continues to teach yoga to her clients through a different medium. Online yoga teaching may not be easy for her but she continues despite the challenges for her clients and their own fitness.
It is in her Yoga Jo Studio in her very home from where she streams live online yoga classes. She teaches Hatha Flow for intermediate practitioners every 7:30 a.m. Mondays to Saturdays and Beginner’s Hatha every 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.