Ever since Brandyn Negri's kidneys stopped functioning correctly as a result of polycystic kidney disease, yoga has been her backbone. It's helped her through a kidney donation from her husband, through opening and closing her yoga studio -- and a car crash. The next stop on her yoga journey? Africa, where she will help train teachers and meet a man she's been mentoring from afar through the Africa Yoga Project.
SWEET SWEAT "Before I moved here, I lived in Florida and was an avid distance runner. But when my kidneys started failing I'd get cramps in my feet and calves, so a friend introduced me to hot yoga. It gave me the same release as I would get from running. I love sweating. It was a way for my body to detox when my kidneys weren't working."
MATCHED "Within a one-year span I met Mario [her husband], opened a yoga studio [called Sigh], and had a kidney transplant. My older sister wasn't a match, and if we didn't find someone, I would have had to go on dialysis. I sent an e-mail, and 20 people came forward. Mario and my best friend were matches. For me, I think I received his kidney because I wanted him in my life."
MEETING A MENTOR "In the fall of 2011, I did a three-day immersion training with Baron Baptiste. It [rocked] my world. It brings you to your knees. Trainings start Saturday night, and by Tuesday the resistance starts to leave you. By the end of training you feel like the gunk has been taken off you. Before I left, I signed up for the Level 2 training. I knew I had a lot of cleanup to do."
REALITY CHECK "My five-year [kidney] checkup at Mayo was a tough visit. The tests were great, but Mario and I just weren't in sync. He's my life, and I felt like I was losing it. When we got home, I saw him in his office and watched him transfer what he was earning to pay the overhead at Sigh. I looked at him and said, 'It isn't working, is it?' He said it hasn't worked for a long time. Right then, I knew we were done with Sigh. We decided to go get a beer, and when we were driving there, we got in a head-on collision. We were lucky to be alive. The crash was a reinforcement that tomorrow isn't guaranteed, and it reinforced our tough decision to close our business."
MEETING A MENTEE "I've been mentoring a gentleman named Maurice [from Nairobi, Kenya] for 12 months. We Skype once a month, we review teaching videos, we speak about his life. I'm going to Nairobi in April to assist with the Africa Yoga Project. It's a 200-hour teacher training for 50 Kenyans over 15 days. It's a place where the culture doesn't sit still. Yoga teachers go out into the slums, prisons, orphanages."
BEYOND THE PHYSICAL "When I first started doing yoga, it was the athletic release. What it's become for me now is so different. When I teach, I love looking for inspiration and setting intentions about what I'm going to teach from and live from. As a result [of yoga], I meditate and journal daily. I like the physical piece of it, but what I love about it has nothing to do with the physical."