Success Stories – Testimonials of Transformation

/Success Stories – Testimonials of Transformation
Success Stories – Testimonials of Transformation

Inspiration from the frontlines: Testimonials of Transformation

A note from Kimberly:

Kimberly with her family

Kimberly with her family

I realize that the Success Stories section is a bit long, but please take a few moments to read through these inspiring accounts of transformation.
You will find some shining examples of the many happy by-products that result from practicing yoga in an authentic way.

These stories of success are a result of the student’s willingness to dig in and make every action align with their deepest desire to be happy, healthy, and loving individuals.

I have been graced with the opportunity to be of service to so many beautiful lives. I offer much gratitude to those who were willing to open themselves and share their stories. May their words of inspiration touch you as deeply as they have touched me?

Samantha Shipman

…rather than focus on what I want to lose, I focus on what I want to gain: a more balanced and healthy life.

Samantha Shipman - Inner Sunshine Yoga has changed my life

Samantha Shipman

I always thought I hated exercise until I started taking classes at Inner Sunshine Yoga and Wellness. The teachers encourage me to focus on the present and accept myself as I am at that moment, this has made made such an enormous difference in my everyday life.

In the past, the only way I could force myself to run or go to a gym was to focus heavily on my outward appearance or the number on the scale in order to stay motivated. That ended up being extremely damaging to my emotional self-worth.

Yes, it is good to have goals, but if your goal is to lose weight in order to feel good about yourself, where does it end? And what happens if you don’t lose weight or if you gain it back, a perpetual cycle of self-loathing? Instead, I opted not to exercise or count calories and just to accept myself as I was.

While this was good for my emotional well-being, physically I constantly felt lethargic and stressed. When I began yoga with Kimberly, I immediately fell in love with the practice.

Of course, there is a whole host of physical benefits that come from regular practice, but in yoga my feeling good did not depend on these things happening. Practicing yoga at Inner Sunshine is the only place I have found that preaches such an acceptance.

But that’s not all! I couldn’t believe how much time I actually saved by making the time to come to class regularly (at least 3-4 times a week). That meant that I was at least twice as productive at my job and didn’t feel the need to rest on the couch for hours at a time when I came home from my stressful job.

That’s because by practicing the ability to remain present, keep focused, and control stress during yoga class, made it much easier to do those same things while at home or work.

Plus, regular practice inspired me to pay more attention to my eating habits, which actually helped produce the same results that so many people achieve through punishing and starving themselves, even though physical appearance was still not the goal.

I have tried yoga at other places, but I love the atmosphere at Inner Sunshine. It is so peaceful and encouraging, and it does not feel competitive or judgmental at all. They truly care about whole-body health.

Yoga at Inner Sunshine promotes a healthier body image for me. Rather than focus on what I want to lose, I focus on what I want to gain: a more balanced and healthy life.

David Carter

Peace is right inside of us just waiting to be discovered…


David Carter

When I attended my first class at Inner Sunshine Yoga I was in a dark place. . . .  I felt broken by events that seemed beyond my control and doubted the power of love in a world where hurt and distrust seemed to be everywhere.  I wasn’t confident that I could love others, that they could love me in return, or that I could love myself, scars and all.  Yoga has helped me to put my head and heart back together, bit by bit, and has been an affirmation of wholeness and love, of faith and trust in those around me and renewed belief in my own intrinsic self-worth.  It has led me to recognize that the person I’ve wanted to be has been inside me all along, just waiting to wake up.  Practicing under the patient guidance of Kimberly, an amazingly gifted teacher, has been at the center of my journey from darkness back to light . . .

I recently took what for me was a huge leap, auditioning for a part in a local theatre production and landing a dream part in one of my favorite musicals.  Before yoga I would have seen the casting call and sadly taken a pass:  “too risky, too crazy, it probably wouldn’t work out.”  Yoga gave me the confidence to show up at the audition and a sense of inner calm in a stressful setting that allowed me to do my best.  Sharing the good news about the outcome with Kimberly and my fellow yogis and basking in their well wishes was every bit as gratifying as landing a part in the play.  Part of what makes practicing at Inner Sunshine Yoga so rewarding is the sense of being part of a rich community of supportive friends on a shared journey.  Like a family, we build each other up, and with every day of practice I realize this is what I’ve been searching for my whole life.  It took me four decades to find this place, and this peace. . . It feels like home.

Ingrid Ann

Learning to trust the heart and see the world from a whole new perspective…


Ingrid Ann

I was overworked, stressed, and in a fragile relationship. I was carrying so much stress in my body that I actually hurt myself turning my head in a gym yoga class. I knew that I needed a safe place to start taking care of myself again. At first, little things like breathing sounded silly in my first few yoga classes, as I obviously knew how to breathe. Oddly enough I learned that I can control a great deal of stress by just breathing differently. Other things began to happen as well. I found that yoga with Kimberly was changing me in small ways holistically. Before practicing yoga I was under the impression that the mind was what I should always trust in decision-making when in reality my heart knows the truth before my mind does. This was a real revelation to me as I have led a life of believing that knowledge and wisdom came from the mind and that the heart contained feelings that distorted clear thinking. I really had no idea that I couldn’t always rely on my mind’s choices. This gift of leading from the heart has allowed me to experience everything and see everything from a whole new perspective. This discovery is to me the jewel of my yoga experience.

I must say I have also met some really great people in my yoga classes. It’s hard to make close new friendships later in life but I found a community of truly caring people who accept me for who I am. I am so grateful I stuck it out through those first breathing lessons, even if I still have a hard time staying still in final relaxation.

Rita Kempf

Yoga is better than muscle relaxants…


Rita Kemfp

I had been suffering from back pain for over a year. I had tried a “healthy back” class at my gym, but I received no relief.

I ended up taking muscle relaxants every day until I discovered yoga with Kimberly.

She worked with me to modify every yoga pose I attempted so that I could strengthen my back while avoiding any stress on it. It’s funny I almost almost can’t remember those days of pain because I have had no back pain for the last ten years!

Teresa Rodriguez

The possibilities are endless, no matter what your age…


Terry Rodriguez

As I age, Instead of getting weaker, stiffer and mentally slower, I feel healthier, stronger and mentally sharper than I did 10 years ago! I have learned to be more flexible not only in my body, but in my life too. However, the real gem I found is that practicing yoga has taught me how to feel at ease with myself. I had been practicing yoga off and on for about 25 years, mostly self-led, but at some point I had injured myself while practicing. I thought I needed some instruction. So I signed up for few months after which I thought I would go back to practicing on my own. Boy was I wrong! What I found, once I decided to walk in to Inner Sunshine Yoga, was a safe place for me to explore the new possibilities in my practice and an all-in-one wellness program. By the way, when I started back in Feb., 2006, I thought I would never do a headstand, but with patience and perseverance at age 65 I stand on my head with confidence.

Thai Yoga Therapy helps to heal old traumas…

In the safety of Kimberly’s Thai yoga therapy room I am learning how to release years of emotional tension that I have been carrying around my whole life. I have come to realize that the tension in my shoulders goes all the way back to my childhood. This is a big deal for me.

I had been receiving Swedish massage for 25 years. But, that first Thai Yoga Therapy session was so beneficial, it was not just relaxing, it actually taught me how to relax. I was in love! I was torn though; over the years I had been so loyal to my other therapist, but I finally realized that I had to do what was right for me. I am so grateful I made that decision. Thai yoga therapy is the most energizing, relaxing and effective body therapy I’ve ever had. If I had a million dollars, I would give it to all my friends—really.

Hollie Lavenstine

Yoga helps beyond just physical therapy!


Hollie Lavenstine

After a back injury, my doctor recommended that I start a yoga practice as part of my physical therapy and as a preventive measure against further problems. Under Kimberly’s expert instruction, I now have a much better understanding of how to reduce the pain from my chronic back issues, and through breathing techniques I can deeply relax. I am so glad I discovered yoga! Several friends who were already practicing with Kimberly had continually praised her knowledge, patience, and compassion. They were right about everything! Kimberly’s dedication to her students is impressive.

Joyce Rothschild

Thai Yoga Therapy was the best thing I could have chosen…


Joyce Rothschild

I began Thai Yoga Therapy with Kimberly about three years ago, during a very stressful caregiving situation. In the midst of spending most of my time and energy caring for another, I knew I had to do something for myself, and the Thai yoga therapy was the best thing I could have chosen. At first I saw Kimberly once a week for eight weeks, and now I see her every two weeks. From the outset I experienced a reduction in physical and emotional tension. The knotted muscles of my upper back have disappeared. My posture and breathing have improved. I have renewed energy, and just recently I realized that my plantar fasciitis has completely disappeared! I look forward to my sessions and feel better immediately—and for days afterward. I have had experience with various other forms of massage, but none has been effective in treating the whole person, emotionally and physically.

Fred Varner

A pain in the neck no more…


Fred Varner

I have had difficulty with movement in my neck for several years. In fact, I was in so much pain I thought I would never be able to turn my head again.

My wife suggested that I try Kimberly’s neck, shoulders and back workshop.  After three sessions I walked into the studio and stood in front of Kimberly and said, “Look!” as I turned my head from side to side.

Not only have I experienced an increased range of motion, but I also feel better overall.  I am sure that even after the workshop is over I will continue my visits.

Bunny Harris

Thai Yoga Therapy a natural treatment for pain….


Bunny Harris

I have had a very painful hip and lower back for a long time and have tried physical therapy and chiropractic hoping that it would be better. I originally started with private yoga lessons but once after a long airplane flight, I was in terrible pain. When I arrived for my yoga lesson, Kimberly suggested that we do Thai that day instead of regular yoga. Today, my hip is cured and my lower back pain is too, unless I abuse it by sitting at the computer for too long. Plus, it is relaxing, improves my range of motion and really improves or does away with pain completely. I have been going to Kimberly for several years.  This has been such a wonderful discovery.  I have even recommended this therapy to my physician as being a wonderful, natural treatment for pain.

Karen Rodgers

Free of pain and all around happier….


Karen Rogers

I’m also free of a lot of the chronic back and neck pain that I’ve suffered from for more than 20 years Yes and I’m stronger, healthier and more supple too. If I didn’t continue going to Kimberly’s classes at Inner Sunshine Yoga, I would a) go nuts and b) fall to pieces. Mentally and spiritually, yoga has made me calmer, balanced, more focused, more self-aware and self-assured and all-around happier.

It is easy to see that Kimberly cares deeply about all of her students, she the best yoga instructor I’ve ever had. She is compassionate, disciplined, and responsible and fun! She encourages me to get the most out of myself and constantly works with me to find solutions for my issues. Kimberly constantly strives to learn for our benefit.

A very close friend from upstate New York, whom I hadn’t seen in a while, told me recently that she thought that yoga had been positively transformative for me, both physically and mentally. She wants to come to Alabama to do yoga with Kimberly.

Thai Yoga Therapy relives neck and back pain….

I have tried everything for my back and neck pain… deep tissue massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, but nothing has given me relief like Thai Yoga Therapy it just feels really, really good! It’s like doing yoga but Kimberly does all the work. This enables her to stretch me in ways I cannot stretch on my own. She pays close attention to everything and never stops coming up with new ways to help make me feel better. It’s awesome!

James Creasy

It’s the journey that matters…


James Creasy

I know from experience that it is easy for one who is out of shape physically and whose body is aging to fear the challenge of yoga and assume the worst of one’s abilities.

Kimberly encourages me to avoid these roadblocks and to appreciate myself where ever I am on the journey. She has helped me feel good, both physically and emotionally, about myself. She has helped me to be accepting of who I am and where I am on the yoga journey I’ve practiced yoga under different teachers over the past 50 years.

Kimberly has been the most helpful of all my yoga instructors. In fact I come away from her instruction knowing that it is not the end of the journey that matters, it is the journey itself that matters.

Ken Walters

It is never too late…


Ken Walters

I came to yoga in the latter part of my life. I am 79 years old! Originally, my wife urged me to join. I have now been practicing yoga for approximately 5 years. I love it! Several years ago I had a stroke. Kimberly worked with me to help regain my balance and mobility. Yoga has really helped me improve my balance. When I started I could not balance on one foot now I can! I have also gained flexibility in my spine and overall strength. I have learned much about proper breathing and how to deeply relax. I feel so fortunate; instead of losing mobility as I age I am gaining it!

Mark Thornton

Finding home…


Mark Thornton

I have gained physical strength and flexibility at an age when most people are going downhill. I love the positive environment of the studio and individual attention I get in class. Mentally and spiritually I feel very “at home” with myself.

I have been practicing for 25 years, but regularly only since Kimberly opened her studio in the fall of 2003. I had been looking for a real instructor for several years. I tried it on my own and in gym classes, but I really think it is too dangerous to learn it without a qualified instructor.

Al Bennett

Healing by learning to accept limitations…

In the fall of 2006, the pain in my hands and wrists started. By September 2010, typing for more than five minutes made my hand go almost completely numb. I was 32. Through my journey into yoga, I have learned that by accepting this body’s limitations and uniting the mind’s desires with the body’s abilities can lead to liberation from chronic pain. Today thanks to my dedication to practice yoga and Kimberly’s patient guidance, I can use the computer with no pain and I have begun playing music again!

I was originally diagnosed with an early stage of carpel tunnel syndrome with peripheral neuropathy. I was devastated. A life without full use of my hands seemed horribly unfair. I began to try all of the prescribed fixes: hand braces, alternative keyboards, and steroids. I even began to consider surgery.

I began practicing Ashtanga Yoga with Kimberly Sotelo at Yoga Ananda at that time. I was very excited by the practice and felt that it might improve my wrist and shoulder problems. So, I began to push myself very hard. Soon, I injured my wrists. My little balloon quickly deflated. The promise of a solution limped away. After all, how could I possibly do all of these difficult arm balances with damaged wrists?

At that time, Kimberly helped me modify the postures to match my ability. She taught me about ahimsa (do no harm). I began to remove the self-competitiveness from my practice and focus on the fundamentals (bandhas, breath, and flow).

I continued this way for several months, paying close attention to my body. I noticed that my wrists began to feel more open thanks to all of the stretching. I learned that there are many places on the hands that weight can be carried, some good and some bad. By learning about my wrists and respecting their limitations and abilities, I discovered how to strengthen them gradually.

In a recent phone call with my mother, she remarked that I hadn’t complained about my wrists in several months. It was then that I became fully aware that through the Ashtanga practice with Kimberly, I had healed my wrists. I am now using the computer with no pain.

My wrists will need to be maintained throughout my life, but practicing authentic yoga has shown me how to do that.

I could go on about the other benefits of the practice including: improved breathing, eliminated back and hip pain, better balance and coordination, brighter outlook, increased ability to focus and manage stress, and the unrecognized bliss of flexibility, but it’s time to go practice.

Toni Varner

Yoga is so much more…


Toni Varner

My work is very stressful and I sit at a desk all day long. It is very easy for me to get engulfed in work and I end up not taking any time for me. I came to my first yoga class 18 months ago as a true beginner with very little strength or flexibility. When I signed up for yoga classes I was looking for an activity that would improve my physical lifestyle, but what I found was so much more. What I found was so different from my work. At the studio I found a wonderfully positive atmosphere, a group of genuine caring people and Kimberly, a patient knowledgeable instructor. I have found a wonderful way to not only improve my physical body, but a place where I can free myself from the stress of work. The encouragement I feel from the classes has improved my physical and mental wellbeing. It is truly a place that anyone is welcome. What I have learned so far has put me on a path to improved health for many years to come.

Ann Moss

Helps me with scoliosis…

I had read that yoga could be helpful with scoliosis and after meeting Kimberly I decided to give it a try. This is exactly what I needed. I am now much more flexible, my balance has improved and I am more aware of how breathing can help me in trying situations. Kimberly is a great teacher – she encourages me, but also realizes my limitations. I appreciate how inventive she is and how she can come up with multiple solutions to a problem.