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Exploring Life & Business with Patricia Sessa of Trish The Yoga Coach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patricia Sessa.

Hi Patricia, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My journey with yoga started in my 20’s when I attempted to try Bikram Yoga. If you know anything about yoga, Bikram as described by the founder is a “torture chamber.” Metaphorically of course. That said, Bikram is one of the most intense “original” hot yoga styles out there. It is composed of 26 poses, done 60 & 30 seconds for 90 minutes. Oh and I can’t forget the heat of 105 degree room, with 40% humidity to mimic the climate of India. Yea, doesn’t it sound like a lot of fun? It is a pretty intense practice. First time I went I was thinking “these people are insane.” I never thought I would go back. I hated it, then years later, I found a friend who encouraged me to go back because I had back pain. Needless to say, I did Bikram yoga off/on for many years, in my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, always going back when I was in pain. It helped every time. But, because it was so expensive, I would only go until I felt better and stop.

Now fast forward to why I am really here sharing my story to the world. In August 2015, when I was 43, I had been sitting on the couch had my right leg up and had my left leg bent. You know how we all lay on a couch, haha. Then all of a sudden, my left leg fell open and I heard this horrible tear sound that appeared to start at my groin and went all the way up to my belly button. I freaked out for a few minutes, paused waiting for something else to happen, afraid to move. Finally a few minutes later, I said to myself you better see if you can move your leg. Thank goodness I could. So, I was like “hmmm ok, must have been nothing.” Disregarding what I heard, it actually turned out to not be such a good idea.

Within a few months, I started having issues walking, lifting my leg, bending it, it hurt to walk, sit down, lie down, you name it, I could not get the pain to go away. Finally, I decided to go to my doctor because I was in excruciating pain. They did an x-ray, told me I probably had bursitis, and arthritis in my hip. I’m like ok, “so what do I do?” She gave me pills for the pain, said lose weight, and hopefully it will go away. Great so she called me “fat.” haha. I kept emailing her saying nothing was working. Finally, she sent me to a sports medicine doctor who basically told me the same thing but added hip dysplasia to my diagnosis because I have scoliosis. He told me to continue what you are doing, gave me some exercises to do and a new muscle relaxer. Great more pills, I thought.

December 2015 after six months of popping pills, doing what I could with the exercises, and drinking to forget about the pain I had enough. I told myself this is crap, I’m going back to Bikram yoga. I stopped all those pain meds, stopped drinking, and I forced myself to go to Bikram anywhere from 4-5 x’s a week. People thought I was crazy. Within three months, I improved. I was able to lift my leg, bend it, and walking got easier. Then I thought to myself this is bullshit, I want to know exactly what is wrong with my hip. Called my doctor and demanded an MRI, but it had to be done by the Sports Medicine doctor. I finally got my MRI and unfortunately that sound I heard on the couch six months prior was something. The MRI came back saying I had a labrum tear.

The Sport Medicine Doctor calls me up to tell me the results. I asked, “ok, well so what’s the solution?” He told me a “Hip Replacement!” He said fixing the tear arthroscopically wouldn’t make the pain go away because I have “hip dysplasia.” I was wait what, you are kidding me, I haven’t even been to Physical Therapy and your solution is straight to a “hip replacement?” I was pissed. Than his response was “oh you want to go to PT? Yea you can do that.” I wanted to scream. I said yes of course. In my head I was like “why would we go straight to surgery.” It just didn’t make any sense to me. He then told me not to lift any weights. Which at the time, I was still in quite a bit of pain that I figured yoga was the most gentlest type of exercise I could do to improve my situation. I got off the phone with this idiot and I was in shock. What was I going to do?

In my head, since it didn’t make sense, I ended up not even going to PT. I told myself yoga is going to fix me because it already showed me that in three months, it was. By the end of 2016, I finished my first year of Bikram yoga. I still felt that though I improved, I needed something else. I thought maybe I should go see a chiropractor. That was also something else I did off/on for years. I ended up finding a chiropractor who was also a personal trainer. He ended up helping me tremendously. He was shocked that the Sport doctor suggested hip replacement and told me not to work out. He immediately told me I needed to strengthen my glutes and hamstrings. He prescribed all the exercises that I always didn’t like doing at the gym when I used to work out a lot, like squats and lunges.

After I found the chiropractor, I also decided to look at different yoga studios other than Bikram. I still wanted to do hot yoga because it just feels great but thought it was time to broaden my horizons in regards to seeing what else was out there. Going to a new yoga studio helped opened my eyes to how vast yoga is. There are endless possibilities to how to practice. I continued to improve with doing tissue work that was prescribed by my chiropractor, more specific exercises to strengthen those hips, glutes, I also started acupuncture for pain. That helped my pain alot too.

Then in 2017, I had been talking with a friend for months about traveling to Peru. She ended up finally telling me she didn’t want to go. Same day she told me she didn’t want to go anymore, I had been at my new yoga studio, class was ending, and the instructor announces “and this week is the last week to sign up for our Peru trip.” I was “holy hell, it is a sign and I am going to do this.” I immediately went to talk with her after class and in May, I went to Peru with three wonderful Yoga Teachers on one of my best yoga adventures yet. I had no idea what I was getting myself into because the trip included a three days hike on the Salkantay Trek Trail that lead into Machu Picchu. I was excited and scared at the same time. Because I had no idea how my hip was going to do. I ended up telling myself this was a challenge to see how far I had gotten with healing my hip and back the last year in a half.

I ended up only lasting one day. The elevation was brutal, my hip/back were not having it. We had been in Cusco for a week, which is at 10,990 feet, figured I would be acclimated enough, but I guess I wasn’t. We started in Mollepata, which was 9514 feet and our 1st camp was at Soraypama, which was 12834 feet. Somehow someway, I made it to first basecamp. I have no idea how I made it to camp that first day because my back went out. We had to carry our packs that were about 25 pounds. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but for my body it was, plus the elevation didn’t help. I had all the yoga teachers trying to help me with the pain. When we got to camp of course, I was the last one to make it. It was freezing, I felt nauseated, they tried to feed me, but I wasn’t hungry. I was so dehydrated, but I couldn’t get enough fluids in me. That night I threw up, barely slept, and at 5 am when they woke us up to continue our 2nd day on the trek. I had to bow out. I was still in a position that they could drive me back to Cusco. If I would have gotten stuck on the 2nd day up in the mountains, I don’t know what would have happened. One of our guides had to help me back, I couldn’t even carry my pack anymore.

Once I got back to Cusco, I got to stay in a hotel and rest. Which ended up being amazing, I got to actually take the train into Agua Caliente, which is where Machu Picchu is and meet up with my group. It was so much better taking the train. Haha. Met up with my group, we stayed at a nice hostel, and next day we went into Machu Picchu. I had also signed up for the hike up Waynu Picchu which is located in Machu Picchu. That was only 9000 feet and I was able to do that with ease. Probably only because I had been to over 12000 feet already, so 9000 was easy, haha. Also, the Gods were watching over me that day. I was still the last one up, but for me it was an amazing success to have been able to climb that.

When I came back from that trip, I realized I still had work to do on my hip/back. I continued my routine of deep tissue, chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga, and personal training sessions with my chiropractor. In 2018 I saw an advertisement for a Yoga Festival and also saw a scholarship advertisement for yoga teacher trainer. I thought to myself “hmmm, why not, what would it hurt.” So, I applied for the scholarship and didn’t think I was going to get it, but I did. It was actually the best miracle that could have ever happened to me. It was an amazing experience and didn’t do it to teach yoga but to learn about how “yoga” helped me heal. But, the universe had other ideas of not teaching. Haha.

Now it’s 2022 and I have been a Yoga Teacher for a little over four years. I actually work at Naval Medical Center San Diego @ Balboa in Inpatient Mental Health and I teach Active Duty yoga almost on a daily basis. I enjoy teaching them what yoga truly is and that it is so much more than being able to touch your toes and do funky poses. Yoga is a way of life, not just an “exercise” to do to get in shape. It is so much more than that. Anyone who knows me always laughs at me because when someone tells me they have pain or any type of issue, I always ask if they have tried yoga or meditation. I’m no doctor, but if I was, my prescription to everyone would be to incorporate Yoga and Meditation into their daily lives. I say this with every fiber of my being because of what it has given me and how it has helped me heal my body, mind, soul, and spirit. I just want to share my experiences with whoever feels that they have come to the end of their rope when it comes to pain. When I say pain, I don’t just mean physical pain either.

I know it’s a long story, but basically I feel if the entire world did yoga, we would all be in a better place. We look for answers always outside of ourselves, when really we need to be looking within ourselves to find all the answers to all our pressing questions.

I have since launched my website to help spread my knowledge and help people who are at their wits ends with doctors. I now do private events and have a small office space I rent from a friend when I have clients. My first event ever was Morning Sunrise Yoga. I had a friend who was getting married and she asked me if I would teach her bridesmaids and groomsmen to kick start her beautiful day. I have taught in Thailand with just my friends. It has been an amazing journey.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has actually been an amazing smooth road since becoming a yoga teach. Leading up to that, it was alot of working through pain and not giving up. I never thought I would create a website and start branding myself as “trish the yoga coach.” I am creating education lessons and will be starting to post some mini videos on different yoga exercises. I don’t market myself at all, especially because I work at the Naval Hospital. So, on my free time, I just want my time. But, given the right circumstances I am willing to teach. I have had a-lot of support from my co-workers and friends encouraging me along the way. It’s been a great journey.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Trish The Yoga Coach?
I actually work at Naval Medical Center San Diego, Balboa and I am actually a Recreational Therapist. Once I became a Yoga instructor, I just added it as an extra benefit for my patients. Well as I mentioned, before I don’t market myself to much other than through word of mouth with my friends and my website/blog. I do private events only and don’t work out of a studio.

I specialize in educating individuals about what a “yoga practice” truly means and how yoga can heal your mind, body, spirit, emotions, etc. You name it, I encourage and teach individuals to learn more about yoga on their own, do research, and start with baby steps, even if it is 10 minutes a day.

I teach them that anyone can do yoga and I mean anyone. If you have any kinds of ailments. You need to start where you are at, not where someone else it. I teach them to be patient and really listen to themselves. I also teach them it’s not a one size fits all. Everyone’s practice will be different.

I think I am known for my passion when I talk about Yoga, I am always encouraging staff as well to come to my classes and they are always surprised. I am also known for no nonsense when it comes to people giving me excuses as to why they “can’t” do yoga. My answer to all their excuses, for example ‘I can’t touch my toes, I’m not flexible, I have back pain, I’m too old, etc.” you name it, I’ve heard it. My answer to them is always. Well, that is exactly why you should do yoga. Their reaction is always priceless because they think I’m going to let them down easy. =) I think that is what sets me apart. I’m not trying to make money off it. I just want people to learn about yoga and spark interest, drop a seed, so hopefully they start where they are at and eventually realize the benefits it has.

I am proud of my brand which is actually myself because I have a passion for trying to help individuals who seek help and want to improve the human that they already are and hopefully somehow make the world a better place by spreading yoga to anyone who will listen. That is what I want people to know.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Now that is a loaded question. Haha. I honestly don’t know. I think just always wanting to be outside playing, being active. I was always very social and wanting to do something active.

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