ANDREA YOUNG| AN IWR INTERVIEW
At the time, little did we know that up the coast in Santa Cruz, there was a physician with a California soul and Oklahoma roots who subtly heard our call to action when she picked up one of our Tulum 2015 flyers. Andrea Young, DO, didn't know it then, but there was a purpose in her heart begging to be nurtured, and THIS was the opportunity for focused action and deep work. What has always been obvious to her from the start, well before the age of 8, was that she was destined to be doctoring "some day" and grew up always striving to do just that, hardly realizing how to treasure moments in the present.
Heading into 2015 she found herself in the state of mind of "always being busy." A lover of yoga AND relaxing beach vacations, she decided just 3 weeks prior to the IWR TULUM 2015 retreat that she was long overdue for a break from the hectic and often stress-laden life she was leading as a physician. In true Soulful Traveler fashion, she recruited a college friend to share a beachside bungalow, booked a flight to Mexico and signed up!
While in Mexico, we supported Dr. Young's much needed desire to slow down, by creating an experience where her days were filled with healing self-care rituals like: yoga, meditation, ayurvedic self-care and alignment lectures, nourishing food, bike rides, beachside lounging, and much needed unwinding. She had the IWR team guiding her, but was also surrounded by the community support of like-minded individuals yearning for the same things. The HUGE emphasis on self-care at our retreat may seem like a no-brainer, but when was the last time you ACTUALLY spent 4 full days focusing on NOTHING ELSE but YOUR needs? Andrea is a physician, and serves as a trusted source to many, but at the end of the day she's human like the rest of us and easily gets caught up in the same fast-paced life that ails us all. You know, the life where the stress to be more, do more ends up ruling the rhythm of your day to the extent that your adrenals are on overdrive, your mind can't slow down, and you slowly end up losing sight of how important your own health is as you start prioritizing the needs of others before your own? We've all been there and it was so refreshing to see a physician be real and step up to join us on EXPERIENCING and LIVING the life she preaches to her patients on the daily. Self-care is seriously how we, as the IWR team, manage to get a handle on our own lives, make meaningful changes, and create a business that has an authentic purpose. We create offerings that revolve around self-care because self-care is truly the foundation off of which true transformation can takes place.
We couldn't be more grateful that this driven physician joined us on this journey. We recently caught up with Dr. Young and are B-L-O-W-N A-W-A-Y by what she's been up to (just 3 MONTHS!) after our retreat! It's so inspiring to hear how the IWR Ayurveda, Alignment, and Yoga experience awakened her entrepreneurial spirit and transformed the way she's now practicing medicine. We all want to make shift happen, and we wait for the answers and are on the look out for all the right"signs" that now is in fact time to make a change, but from experience , we know that it's not about having ALL the answers right NOW, but more about the desire to know yourself on a new level and the want to intentionally step into a space where other's encourage you to do the work and support your mission to shine BRIGHTER.
We have to say THANK YOU, Andrea for investing in this experience and being living proof that profound shifts can be made when you're living in sync with nature, optimizing your movement patterns, nourishing yourself with real food, getting restful sleep, connecting with like-minded people, and above all taking care of yourself!
Andrea is currently MAKING SHIFT HAPPEN while practicing as a physician in Santa Cruz, CA. She creates space for herself daily by spending time outside with the sun on her skin, cherishing each moment she has FaceTiming with her 4 month old niece, and eating good food. We hope you're as uplifted by her interview as we were!!
- No.1| What made you pursue a career in medicine?
AY: I told family members I was going to be a doctor as early as 2nd grade. My dad owns a physical therapy company, built it from the ground up, and I think I just always knew I wanted to help patients be healthy, like my Dad.
- No. 2| When did yoga + meditation come into the picture for you?
AY: So there's not a lot of "yogis" in Oklahoma, but I managed to find one my sophomore year of college. Hannah looked like a weathered tan Santa Cruz beach hippie and was so zen. I tried to take her class 2 times per week. I specifically remember I went to her to "decompress" after organic chemistry lab. Yoga has been a part of my life since...from Newport Beach power yoga to sweaty west LA Vinnie Marino vinyasa flows. Yoga got me through med school, but mediation is a recent phenomenon for me...I'm a newbie. Only in the last 7-8 months have I realized the need for a mindful practice on the mat and a mindful moment some other time during the day. I'm still working on keeping it in my "must do daily" list.
- No. 3| Many healthcare practitioners who gravitate towards a holistic approach often have some sort of life experience or a-ha moment that ends up really influencing the way they practice medicine. Have any of those moments?
AY: Moving back to California from Philadelphia was when I decided I was no longer going to channel only "westernized" medicine. After around 9 months in the ER/Urgent care setting in Philly, I wanted to do relationship medicine - help people help themselves, not just throw them a quick Zpak. I've always coined phrases like "raw and real" and "devotion to motion" when guiding my patients on lifestyle. My journey in medicine is still evolving... If you would have told me I'd be into Ayurvedic medicine when I was in the OR as a surgical resident, I would have called you nuts. It turns out Family medicine gives me patients of all ages, time for a relationship with them, variety in my day, and an environment where my personality can shine. To me, helping others BE WELL, means helping them find wellness naturally and in a nurturing manner, and does not always involve pharmaceuticals.
- No. 4|You kicked off 2015 with us in Mexico as an attendee of IWRs Tulum Ayurveda, Alignment, + Yoga Retreat. Tell us about your experience and how it may have influenced what you're up to now?
AY: IWR Tulum allowed me to finally shake off some funk and wake up!! I had probably never heard about Ayurveda except maybe on a poster at a yoga studio. And when I learned about my dosha and some important Ayurvedic self-care principles, it all just clicked with me. I felt truly super healthy eating the clean nearly vegan cuisine Claire made for us. I let the Tulum magic recharge my battery. I treasured time on the mat with Amanda in that ocean sunrise facing hut. By the last day of the retreat I was ready for a wifi signal to research how physicians could incorporate Ayurveda into their practice and was ready for an Ayurvedic cookbook in my kitchen. I also finally knew I had to quit talking about being physician entrepreneur, and do it, keeping an open eye for opportunities that would allow me to be dedicated to self-care and healthcare. I am starting my Ayurvedic training in June and have a thriving safe skincare business with Beautycounter. I now see patients only three days a week and intend to transition to a hybrid Family medicine/Ayurvedic medicine practice in 2016 and will continue to educate the community about the need for legislation reform in the skincare industry. I've also finally made a priority of caring for myself. And that just feels so very refreshing.
- No. 5| Love that you're feeling so empowered right now! IWR is all about empowering people to take ownership of their health-especially in a time when our current health care model doesn't emphasize prevention. Oh, insurance and our fractured healthcare system...it's easy to become overwhelmed by it all...even to the point that sometimes providers feel helpless. IWR believes small changes on everyone's part can create a big impact. We'd love to hear your insights on this one and any ways you're transforming medicine and/or empowering your patients.
AY: Insurance and the current healthcare reimbursement model is a crippling "fact of life" for now, but I am hopeful that outcome based healthcare reform is in the pipeline. I truly believe in relationship-based + preventative medicine. I think more patients need to understand that many of the modern day diseases can be turned around with healthful diet and exercise alone and working with us outside the office to 'do good' to your body will get you to your health goals much quicker. I'll be honest, I'm usually 10-15 minutes behind on my patient visits. That's not because my staff overbooks my schedule; it's because listening ears + extensive patient education is the equation for patient empowerment and that just takes time.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrea Young | Amanda Ramirez