I grew up with my younger brother Mike in a small town in northern British Columbia, Canada. Raised in the home that our dad built with his own hands, our loving parents, Jim and Joy, gave us every opportunity. I was a carefree tomboy who wore grass-stained blue jeans and pink velcro-strap running shoes. At age six, I decided I was going to be a movie star and professional baseball player. Anything was possible.
At eight years old, I entered a school-wide speech contest where I spoke about my childhood passion – baseball. I learned how to intonate my voice, when to look up at the audience and practiced my talk over and over. I won the contest. I felt important and valued, though what I made it mean was that I had to win in order to be happy. And to win, I needed to be ‘perfect’ first.
As a result, in my teenage years, I had exceedingly high expectations of myself. Unable to live up to my self-imposed ideal of perfection, I rarely felt good enough. I began to focus my attention on how I appeared to others—something I thought I could control. I became obsessed with looking good. Was I thin enough? Pretty enough? In grade ten, I started smoking and failed my Physical Education class.
Later in high school, I was introduced to road cycling. Fascinated with the raw physical challenge of the sport, I started training in earnest. With the glimmerings of self-confidence brewing, I quit smoking and improved my grades so I could go to university.
In my late twenties, I raced my first marathon. To my surprise, I won the race, which reinforced my childhood experience of feeling valuable and important through winning.
I kept training and within 10 months was racing marathons for Team Canada.
Pushing my body too hard, not eating enough or getting adequate rest, I developed a hip injury, which forced me into rehabilitation. I began spinning the pedals again and Ironman distance triathlon attracted my attention. What would be possible if I learned to swim and put my cycling and long distance running skills together?
In the summer of 2008, in Penticton, BC I raced my first Ironman distance triathlon as an amateur—and won. In 2009, I quit my teaching job, moved, sold my home and became a professional triathlete.
One year later, on November 21, 2010, an oncoming van crossed the centre line on a Canadian highway, smashed into my car and nearly killed me. Waking up from a coma in the Intensive Care Unit, surgeons told me that I would never race again and that I might not ever walk again.
I didn’t believe them. I committed to moving my body as soon as I could and it responded with each passing day. Within two months I was back in the pool swimming a few lengths, as medical professionals shook their heads in disbelief.
The physical healing that occurred throughout the next two years made an “impossible comeback” possible.
In August 2012, I raced Ironman Canada in the elite division and came in third place. I had healed my physical body through fitness, but mentally and emotionally I was in turmoil. This was partially from the trauma of the accident, but mostly due to the inadequacies I’d felt since my teenage years, and the pressure I’d put myself under as I attempted to hide it from others. Forcing my body to do things it no longer wanted to do, I was increasingly unfulfilled and depressed.
During this same period, “A Second Chance: The Janelle Morrison Story”, a film documenting my recovery was released. Ironically—although I had been given a second chance at life, I was missing it.
Even so, I continued to race professionally for two more years, where all that mattered were finish lines and results. I thought that eventually I would find fulfillment with another first place finish. Although deep down I knew this was a never ending game, I didn’t know how to change it. Under the tough exterior image I portrayed I was frustrated, sad & lonely.
In 2014, on my 37th birthday, I completed my last race in Las Vegas.
During the following months, I began to do things I’d never done before. I breathed. I allowed. I ran without a watch. I studied shamanism, reconnecting to myself and nature. Gently and progressively, I worked through layers of pain built up by a lifetime of relentlessly pushing myself to extremes. I learned to listen and trust myself. I became a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher on Vancouver Island, where I now live, and the love I had begun discovering on the inside started to manifest on the outside.
I’m inspired seeing others freed up, living deeply fulfilled lives they might not otherwise have realized were possible for themselves. In full health—balanced in body, mind and spirit—they are free to joyfully take action on the things that are most important to them.
I’m passionate about making available to others the physical healing that takes place through heart-pumping, cardiovascular fitness combined with the mental & emotional healing available through stillness & deep relaxation.
It lights me up to see people filled with the energy and vitality that comes from having a healthy body integrated with the clarity & love for self cultivated through deep stillness.
I love when people discover for themselves the powerful, expansive potential of our most potent natural medicines. The union of fitness and stillness strengthens and nourishes the whole self, providing access to lives brimming with possibility!
Move your Body. Still your Mind.