Two and a half years ago Lisa Orkin was a 30-year-old occupational therapist struggling with a bout of serious depression. Medication, she says, wasn't helping. Then at her gym one day, she happened by a Kripalu Yoga class in progress. "It looked really different and relaxing. I thought, 'I'll check that out,'" says Orkin. "I didn't know what to expect, but after the first class, I was hooked. I remember leaving there and thinking it had totally changed my frame of mind. I was having trouble sleeping, having trouble concentrating, and this made me feel great."
Orkin began going to yoga class as often as she could; most weeks it was every day. After four months of regular practice, she decided to go to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. That experience convinced her yoga had to be a part of her life, so three months later she returned to Kripalu for teacher training.
There she had a consultation with homeopathic physician Jeffrey Migdow, M.D., during which she mentioned that she had been taking thyroid medication since age 15. "I knew a lot of poses had to do with balancing the thyroid, so I asked him if he thought there was any chance that at some time in my life I could get off the medication. He looked at me and said, 'There is not a doubt in my mind that you can get off it.'"
He ordered blood tests and gave her a homeopathic thyroid medication. "When I got my blood tested, all the tests were coming back normal, showing I didn't need this hormone anymore. I was shocked. At this point I was thinking, 'This is for real. It's showing in my blood.'"
Her regular internist, however, was not so pleased. When Orkin shared her belief that yoga and homeopathy were making the difference, the internist gave her an ultimatum: "Continue to do this, and I won't treat you." Orkin didn't hesitate in making the choice. "I said I was very interested in Migdow's point of view and was going to continue to see him. That was the end of that," she says, but adds that she didn't tell many people about her unconventional path. "I felt it was enough that I knew for myself this was helping. I don't mind sharing with people who respect what yoga has to offer, but sometimes others don't necessarily have an open mind."
Gradually she was weaned off the homeopathic medicine, but added meditation and natural iodine supplements in the form of kelp. Her blood tests are now normal, without medication, for the first time since she was an adolescent. Depression went by the wayside, and she is now a full-time Kripalu Yoga instructor. She has already been to India to study at a yoga research institute. "They are totally ahead of us. They are using yoga there as a modality. Here we need a little more research before that happens," she notes. "Most people would not believe that I healed my thyroid imbalance, but I am convinced that my yoga and meditation practice allowed this healing to take place. My goal now is to combine my skills as an occupational therapist with yoga to provide healing and a holistic approach to wellness."