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Clarissa (Chris) Riely started practicing yoga in 2001. She ran and worked out but felt she needed to stretch more. Along came yoga and she was hooked for life.
In 2011, Chris was diagnosed by her primary care physician at age 57 with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, (ZZ phenotype). All she knew at the time was that she couldn’t walk far without major exhaustion, much less run. She set out to learn all she could about this disease.
In 2014, she retired from operating the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, an international foundation, to dedicate time to her health. At that time, Chris began pursuing her passion of yoga and obtained her 200 hours of yoga training (RYT 200) at Glenmore Yoga and Wellness in Richmond, Virginia. She taught classes and then decided to pursue her “advanced” training certificate by obtaining 500 hours in the therapeutic use of yoga (RYT500). For her project she delved into the science behind proper breathing and why yoga is so beneficial to people who need to work on their breathing and for those compromised with COPD and other respiratory diseases.
Chris realized that after regular yoga practice her breathing was better, she was able to walk faster and farther with her heart rate at the appropriate beats per minute.
As a result of her research, she developed a Yoga for Better Breathing sequence using science-based information and yoga poses that lengthen and strengthen all the muscles of respiration; focusing on pursed lip breathing and 1 to 2 breaths. She teaches parts of this sequence in all of her classes but also has a dedicated class just for those with breathing issues.
Chris also educated other yoga instructors about her research, poses and breathing techniques.
Her classes are accessible to everyone no matter their knowledge and practice of yoga; those on oxygen, chair bound, any walk of life. “We are all either beginners or practicing beginners at yoga – even those who have been practicing for decades. We learn something new every time we practice – in yoga that’s called the beginners mind. “ says Chris.
Her favorite quote by P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D. from Duke University is, “If there was a drug that could mimic the effects of yoga, it would probably be the world’s best-selling drug.”
Chris has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Science in Rehabilitation and Counseling. She ran non-profits for most of her 42 years in the “work” world. She lives with her husband on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and they have three grown children. They are most proud of their two grandchildren (and another one on the way).