The first thing you'll notice about Fern Olivia is the feeling that she really, truly, emits joy. She carries an air of such sensuous exuberance that you wonder, "How can I get that high?" Things weren't always like this for Fern. The road to the life she lives now was paved through dark days of illness. Read on to find out how she healed herself from Hashimoto's disease, and founded a veritable movement in Thyroid Yoga®.
What is Thyroid Yoga? How did you come to teach this specialized practice?
I created Thyroid Yoga inspired by tools I learned in my own healing journey, freeing myself from Hashimoto’s hypothyroid disease and now driven to empower those with thyroid imbalances to say goodbye to survival mode and embody their most liberated, fully expressed self. The method blends integrative nutrition, yoga, reiki energy work, meditation, essential oils, and holistic lifestyle to provide specialized one-on-one coaching, teacher trainings and retreats to empower those who feel like they are at the mercy of prescription medicine.
[Photo: Jenna Duffy]
It was then in 2008, yoga found me when I was working 14-hour days in finance and muting my creative voice in exchange for a six-figure salary with two weeks vacation a year. After work, I was binge drinking and dancing on tables in NYC’s most glamorous night clubs.
I was fiercely out of control and afraid of the woman I was born to be. I played small in my relationships and partnerships and my light was always dimmed by my fear of speaking up for myself. It was easier to play small, so there I stayed.
My body rebelled. I suffered from chronic congestion, puffiness, brain fog, constipation, food allergies, and severe stomach irritability for nearly a decade.
One day, I fainted in the NYC subway, throwing up and barely conscious to get myself out to the street. I found myself in an ambulance which transported me to a chaotic emergency room in a loud and dirty hospital — a horrific experience I've tried many times to forget. This disaster was a blessing. It was a wakeup call.
As my yoga practice deepened, I realized the way I was treating myself and showing up in my life had a direct correlation to the persistence of my Hashimoto’s hypothyroid symptoms.
Once I completed yoga teacher training and created a thriving wellness practice, I quit my corporate job. My symptoms cleared up, but I was still afraid to use my voice in class. I’d mimic the same alignment cues and the intonations of my dearest teacher because I wasn’t yet confident with mine. I was in a relationship that I allowed to make my body very sick as I shut off my own needs and forgot my feminine nature and innate beauty. I forgot who I was and was spiraling through patterns of self-loathing, binge eating, and insecurities about my health.
It wasn't until I finally expressed my voice with integrity, created the work I was born to do, stepped up to be a true leader, and courageously followed my heart to move from New York to Los Angeles when I discovered my true healing power and intuitive gifts. I am finally thriving, radiantly glowing and living a liberated life I truly admire in my home in Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica.
What are your basic recommendations for people dealing with thyroid issues?
First, know you're not broken. Notice what words you are saying to yourself and notice any control you’ve given to others in your life, where you’ve put others first before your own health, and then forgive yourself for any power you’ve given away. There is a direct correlation to the guilt, shame and resentment we hold on to, our ability to release it, and our ability to heal ourselves.
When we reclaim our power, we begin to notice that we have the power to choose what we put in our bodies, where we live, and how we treat ourselves every day. I always recommend to my clients to gift themselves a yoga retreat paired with a full body and mind detox (my Thyroid Yoga Cleanse & Retreat is coming up this December 11-18 in Nosara, Costa Rica!) to create healthy patterns and form community with those also going through similar symptoms and a tribe of healers who are here to support you.
Simply receiving the love you are giving yourself via the ritual of self-care is also where the magic lies. I also like to take this self-care practice up a level and add in my Ajai Alchemy body oils. Essential oils can be utilized to enhance each and every moment and are a powerful and direct way to regulate our stress or calming responses. Within a minute our skin absorbs whatever we put on it directly into the bloodstream, so replace all the products that have ingredients harming you and our planet (check the EWG Skin Deep® database to see if your product is safe) with homemade products and pure essential oils made with the healing wisdom of plants and botanicals in their pure form. Essential oils are a powerful tool in my well-being kit, and adding them into the ritual of abhyanga potentiates the healing effects of this practice. Use this self-care practice to relax, uplift, soothe, and relieve.
In order to heal, we have to communicate fearlessly for what we desire to feel in our bodies and in our lives. We will feel better when we speak up with conscious confidence, because our thyroid, our 5th chakra, becomes free when we set ourselves free. We’ve got to live mindfully and with integrity for the highest good of our bodies, our communities, and our planet. When we do that, everything flows, everything comes into balance, in harmony. Sharing our stories and supporting each other in our journeys will heal us as a collective.
[Photo: Jenna Duffy]
Describe a perfect day for Fern Olivia.
The perfect day is my daily life in Nosara! My daily ritual here is a habit made holy.
It is my medicine — ultimately what has saved my life. My ritual relieved my dependency on thyroid medication, emotional binge eating, and other nonsense distractions.
I start my day with sound healing in bed and a self-reiki practice with my big beautiful rose quartz crystal. As my feet meet the floor, I imagine light from the earth traveling through my body and filling me with energy and vitality. I see myself as a magnet for receiving my wildest manifestations.
After surf or a kundalini yoga practice, or personal training session with my personal trainer, I lather my skin in fresh aloe vera and coconut oil. Post-movement session, you'll find me in the kitchen whipping up a papaya bowl with fresh dragonfruit jam from the farmer's market, chia pudding and topped with local bee pollen and cinnamon.
After sunset on the beach or riding waves, you'll find me chanting or jam sessions with friends, journaling, and loving myself up with Ajai essential oils and incense. And of course, cuddling with my kittens who also now smell like love.
Life in the jungle is a simple, sensory experience. I love my life and have found joy in what lights me up. Ever since I relocated here and found myself, my body has been a sparkling, shimmering reflection of the peace inside my soul.