In 2013, I was in a car crash. My car was driven into on the driver’s side, and my shoulder was badly injured. Insurance sent me to physiotherapy where I was diagnosed with yet another part of my autoimmune disease - hypermobility. Hypermobility is a condition where a person’s joints are loose and can move easily beyond what they should. This puts a lot of strain on major joints like hips, knees, and shoulders, and causes a lot of pain while the muscles do extra work to hold the bones where they should be. It is a condition that is inherited.
I worked with my physiotherapist for six months to strengthen my subscapularis, teres major, and lats to hold my injured shoulder in place and prevent further injury. Yet with all of the work my range of motion and pain level didn’t get much better. In the end of it, with the physio work and my own workouts at home, I was strong - but I wasn’t ‘fixed’.
It was then that I discovered Buti Yoga.
I was discharged from physiotherapy and I was looking for some kind of physical supplement that might help reduce the pain in my shoulder and increase my range of motion back to normal. I downloaded a fitness app and tried out a 10 minute Buti workout just by the description - “It’s yoga that boogies! Get ready to shake your moneymaker like you never have before…it’s fast paced, fierce, and feminine. And might even make you blush a little.” This badass tattooed yogi by the name of Bizzie Gold invited me to go to her website and join her tribe for a free beginner’s workout video, and at the end of the 10 minutes I said, “HELL YES!” My muscles were screaming, I was having fun and I felt free! This 10 minute yoga workout had made me moving like I never had before, and made me feel things I didn't know I had the capacity to feel. It spoke to me on a much deeper level than just that workout high I was used to, and I craved more.
When I first discovered Buti, it was a fun workout that I enjoyed, was completely different, and gave my body a burn like nothing else, but I didn’t subscribe to the yoga lifestyle and way of thinking. Just one month after I started doing it, however, I noticed my shoulder injury was a lot better - the pain was reduced to almost nothing, my stabilizing muscles around my shoulder were noticeably stronger, and my range of motion was back to normal. It was healing, not fatiguing and challenged me in ways that made me question everything I had done before.
Buti was about creating community and support, not about being alone to beat yourself up over what you couldn’t do or what you were NOT. The yoga mindset and lifestyle had found me, and I noticed it changing my entire life, not just my body. I wanted to share it with everyone! I didn’t want to see one more person suffer the way I had without knowing the difference between actually suffering and being healthy. I worked hard on my yoga poses, I concentrated on unblocking my chakra system, I cried, I screamed, and just eight months later, I went across the country to Vancouver to attend a training and get certified to teach Buti Yoga.
Today, I’m no longer toxic to myself or anyone around me. I uplift, and I help to restore. I’m no longer living with fear. I have a positive outlook on new challenges that come up and approach them with a logical mind. I’m no longer living a life where workouts must be self destructive to be any help, and I’m no longer living in pain and malnutrition. Since adopting the Buti lifestyle values, I have been able to reduce my pain management medication to a third of what it was, and enjoy the things I eat rather than being worried about how I might feel after I eat them. Most importantly, I came out of my shell and am no longer the small, self conscious person I was. I’m confident in who I am, body and soul, and I feel free and energized every day. I have a tribe of women and men who attend my classes which I teach four times a week at various studios, and I’m working towards growing that tribe every day to be able to teach full time.
Every day I’m thankful for this practice that helped me grow up, take charge of my life, and transform.
“It’s hard to explain my way of living to people who never lived it A minute in my position filled with my opposition That anybody not different fighting to stay the same I got lives in my hands and I’m fighting to make them change” - Angel Haze, Battle Cry
My transformation story is deep and comes from many angles, it really speaks to the healing powers that Buti Yoga as a practice has, and is relatable from whatever angle your own story comes from. Trust the process as you will achieve amazing things! You will change, but don’t be afraid to be someone other than who you are right now. Be brave with your life!
Before I started Buti, my mind and entire being overall was toxic. My life for a long time was based on fear - fear that held me back from the huge ideas I had for the world around me with zero ambition to act on any of it. I really started getting into exercise as part of my lifestyle when I was in my first year of college, and it was really only because I needed something to escape to.
I went about it in the wrong way.
Exercise for me was something to do alone, to separate myself from other people instead of with my friends or using it as a way to meet new friends. It was all about being alone with myself. The more I exercised, the better I felt, and the better I looked, and that made me want to keep doing it. At that time, I was making a living as a writer, which is a very solitary thing to do, and keeping myself separated from everyone else with my skewed view of how working out should be. I made myself the modern Miyamoto Musashi - I focused on my craft and my body, and gradually forgot how to be a functional social person all together.
The thing about that workout high is you get addicted to it. You get addicted to feeling good. When you combine seclusion with that feeling of addiction, you become obsessed and start chasing that high because it becomes more difficult to attain. There’s no one other than yourself to tell you that you’re going too hard and you’re going to burn out, but of course, you’re not going to tell yourself that, because you love how it feels.
This state was what my life consisted of when I started going through testing for an autoimmune disease, which remains today without a conclusive diagnosis. At that time pain management and a myriad of medication trials didn’t really help me - but exercising did. I was battling severe anemia with a blood iron level of absolutely zero, the inability to absorb supplements to correct the problem, and a red blood cell count that revealed somewhere, I had lost a whole pint of blood. I was already beyond burnt out and all I wanted to do was chase that high that made me feel ‘normal’ and gave me the feeling that I had a little bit of control over something in my life.
They nicknamed me 'The Shakti Gangster' for good reason - a little bit hip hop, a little bit goth, and a whole lot of chakra awakening happens when I join the party. I've been practicing Vinyasa yoga for eight years, and Buti Yoga for two. Nothing has changed my life and my mind like Buti yoga has, and now I live to share this practice with as many people as I can reach. I completed my Buti yoga certification in Vancouver as the first milestone of my mission. Besides yoga, my life is filled with health, wellness and fitness. I have a black belt in Go Ju Ryu martial arts which I've been practicin and teaching for seven years. The intention I leave you all with is 'I can and I will'.
- Jenna Smith-Panko