Zenna Wellness Studio in Berlin, MD, is the kind of place that makes you feel instantly welcomed into the fold and filled with a sense that you’re about to do really good things for yourself. It’s part serenity and part unbridled energy—the yin and yang necessary to find balance in our often-overscheduled lives.
At the helm is Chrissy Knight, who is the catalyst for all the feel-good vibes and transformative effects that Zenna seems to have. Knight runs the daily operations, teaches Zumba, yoga, aerial yoga, children’s yoga, and plans the events and special classes often found at the studio. Beneath the smiling face and positivity Knight shares at Zenna, is a personal story that is at times, almost unbelievable. For starters, she successfully healed herself after three heart surgeries without the use of pain medication. Knight’s story is a testament to the strength of holistic health practices, and a shining example of the true power of the mind/body connection. How did she do it, and do we all have this kind of healing power?
“Along with physical therapy—I didn’t use any pain meds—and just focused on the healing process, telling myself that I will heal, and that I deserve to heal, and trying to manifest that I will, is how I got the ball got rolling,” explains Knight; the process which began for this 30-something year-old, after the installation of a pacemaker.
Knight was first diagnosed with Lyme Disease and within a year’s time, her heart rate had started falling dangerously low—not typically a symptom of Lyme. Eventually diagnosed with Sick Sinus Syndrome, a heart condition brought on much faster by the Lyme in her system—a more common verdict for someone in their 80’s—Knight was monitored by her cardiologist while a course of action was determined. Throughout all of this, Knight was still teaching Zumba.
“My blood pressure was dropping and I was having trouble breathing. With Zumba, that pumped my heart rate up and my blood was pumping normally during class, and for about two hours after and I felt great, but after that my heart rate would go down to about 30.”
As a point of comparison, a normal resting heart rate for an adult ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute. What Knight was experiencing is called bradycardia, when the heart slows down too much, and if left untreated, can turn into heart failure.
“In the six weeks between stopping Zumba and the pacemaker, I was going into heart failure,” Knight recalls, while expressing gratitude that her condition was diagnosed and then fixed with a pacemaker, in time.
Once her heart was regulated and the painful surgery deemed a success, Knight was able to use her knowledge and skill in meditation, yoga and Zumba, to heal herself. Flash forward a few months, and Knight was fully in the swing of leading an active and healthy life, which included teaching multiple classes at Zenna every day, when a health crisis struck again—this time in the form of an injury.
“I fell and slammed my shoulder, so I knocked the top of my humorous bone off. The muscles were so inflamed the first couple of weeks that they kept the humorous in place,” Knight says, describing what could have kept her unable to work for months.
The official injury was a fractured humorous—very problematic for someone whose livelihood comes from physical activity. Knight drew from what she learned healing from her prior surgeries,
“You first must believe in yourself, and draw the strength from within, and you’ll heal that much faster.”
Knight employed her ability to meditate, using the mind/body connection to really get the healing process going.
“You take yourself down into a meditative state and you envision the bone actually healing itself, and that’s a daily practice.”
Knight is quick to point out that meditation can be used for more than just healing from an injury, and it’s a practice anyone can benefit from. As an example, she says to take ownership of what you personally need to overcome during meditation,
“For instance, say ‘I am patience’ if that is what you are battling in your life. Believing that you are that just reinforces you already are.”
For those who have never attempted meditation, Knight offers some pointers,
“When you start a meditative practice, it could just be for one minute, but one of the most important things is to keep a committed practice to it.”
Just as important as setting aside time on a daily basis, is having a clear and balanced mind, which can be a challenge for anyone in the beginning stages of meditation. Knight says,
“Once you have a balanced mind, everything falls into place and you meet your personal goals, whether it’s to heal from an illness or just to have a healthy diet. To get there, you need a daily mantra, [as an example] ‘I am beautiful, I deserve it; I am strong.’ When you start to feel the chatter or negativity coming in, you go back to that mantra.”
Aside from meditation, controlling emotions when dealing with external forces is also very important to any healing process. As Knight explains,
“It’s important to not react when something negative happens; instead of reacting immediately and letting ego speak, you can speak truly from your heart, later.”
Knight also says that having a belief that you aren’t alone, that there is a higher power, is very important to balancing the mind, and when that fully happens, the healing of the body will follow.
Knight also did a lot of yoga, while always paying attention to her pain threshold and listening to her body, which she says is the number one point in the physical healing process.
The elimination of toxins—whether tangible forms like alcohol, drugs, and unhealthy foods, or emotional toxins like negativity, anxiety, and unhealthy relationships, is also key to any healing process.
The last piece of the holistic healing puzzle is the part that can’t be achieved on one’s own. For Knight, this was attained within the same community she helped create.
“It’s super important to have a community, which is what we have at Zenna. Knowing that there are other people out there also struggling, and helping each other along—meditating together, dancing together at Zumba, practicing yoga together, laughing together, it makes such a difference.”
If you have something in life to overcome, take a page out of Chrissy Knight’s playbook, which shows that achieving the trifecta of a balanced mind, listening to one’s body, and being embraced by a strong sense of community can heal just about anything.
Photos by Chrissy Ehrhart-Knight.