Prior to becoming a certified teacher, Danielle stumbled upon yoga back in 1996 as a producer for MTV. When she turned 40, she realized that while years of practicing Vinyasa had helped her body feel better than ever, her mind and body still needed more. This inspired her to develop her Xen Strength Method, a modern twist on yoga that combines meditation, yoga and strength training. Danielle is a regular contributor to Yahoo Beauty and The Huffington Post, and has appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, and also Shape, Yoga Journal and Self. She was featured in Bobbi Brown’s Pretty Powerful campaign and teaches at A-list wellness events in NYC and The Hamptons, hosted by Wellthily, Gurney’s Inn and Yoga Journal. She speaks about wellness in the workplace at corporations such as Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Danielle believes that her yoga and meditation practice is the sole reason she's overcome her biggest challenges: her mother’s suicide, father’s bankruptcy, and poor body image. Instead of letting her story revolve around trauma and stress, living her yoga has allowed Danielle to rewrite her story to focus on peace, happiness and teaching others to do the same.
When she was four years old, Danielle Diamond made her mom a mustard and carrot sandwich and brought it to her in bed. At that time, she didn’t understand the complexity of the situation: that her mom had bipolar disorder and depression. She was just trying to make her mom happy. As she got older, and especially after her mom died by suicide when Danielle was just 21, she grew to understand that her mom’s mental illness wasn’t anyone’s fault, and it wasn’t something that could be solved with a sandwich, or by her mom wishing it away or deciding to be happy. On this episode, Danielle and I talk about her relationship to her mom, how yoga and meditation have helped her manage trauma, stress, and grief, and why she’s a fierce advocate both for people who have mental illness and the loved ones who are affected by it.
Here are some of the things Danielle and I chatted about:
- Why Danielle says meditation and yoga took the place of therapy and saved her life
- Her experience growing up with a mother who had bipolar disorder and depression
- The moment, at four years old, when she slipped into the role of caring for her mom
- The fear she felt walking through the door each day, not knowing if her mom would be alive
- Why some high school friends never had an inkling that anything was wrong at home
- The last conversation Danielle had with her mom, and the “aha” moment that happened
- Why her son’s seizure led to her having panic attacks and anxiety, and what was behind that
- The stigma behind mental illness and why cuts in funding are so damaging to the cause
- Why she’s a strong advocate for people who have mental illness AND their family members
- How therapy can help, and why it’s important to keep trying until you find the right practitioner