Long before Evan Soroka became a widely recognized yoga therapist and took on yoga like a second skin, she was a teenager battling the detrimental effects of Type I diabetes.
Soroka was diagnosed at just 13 years old with the condition that would change the rest of her life, both in positive and negative ways. She struggled with body image and taking care of herself throughout her teenage years in Aspen. She longed to exercise, but found it increasingly difficult due to her condition. Finally, she decided to try hot yoga. While it was initially uncomfortable, she began to feel free and relaxed.
“I wasn’t burdened by diabetes or self-centeredness. I felt euphoric,” she says.
From then on, she practiced yoga as much as she could. Even when she didn’t feel like going to a class she did — and always felt better after. It helped her stay focused and healthy, but she often pushed herself too hard and sustained multiple injuries. That’s when she found yoga therapy. “I was just so hungry to learn,” she recalls of embarking on her journey to become a yoga therapist.
Yoga therapy is the specific application of yogic tools, like breathing and meditation exercises, to address an individual’s physical, mental and emotional needs. “All yoga is therapeutic, but not all yoga is yoga therapy,” Soroka explains. “Yoga therapy helps a person transform their practice from something vanilla to something curated.”
In a yoga therapy class, students are taught to hone in on a multi-dimensional being — physical, mental and emotional bodies. It also helps to promote self-efficacy and self-awareness. Self awareness promotes recognition and the ability to apply practices to one’s daily life in order to experience change. Self-efficacy helps students prove to themselves that they are up for a task — the “if at first I don’t succeed, try again” mentality.
“The ‘I can do it’ becomes louder than ‘I can’t,’” she adds. Through her mastery of yoga therapy at the American Viniyoga Institute, Soroka believes her students will gain the ability to witness all the chaos, but be above it; acknowledge it, but don’t let it permeate their soul. This helps students achieve longevity and resilience, as well as becoming empowered — her main goal for students.
While yoga therapy applies to all people and their various needs, much of her teaching targets diabetes as a problem. Soroka is particularly interested in utilizing the practice of yoga and Ayurveda to focus on physiology and transcend disease. “I was teaching something that was counter to what the community believed in, but I stuck to my guns, because it’s not the popular method,” she explains. “I want to break the mold.”
Soroka gained the motivation to start her own private clinic in Aspen from having amazing women in her life that helped her “find her niche.” She offers online classes and one-on-one yoga therapy sessions through her company, Soroka Yoga Therapy. Her classes maintain a heavy emphasis on breathwork, as well. Guiding students through different postures and meditations helps them feel good, which is her main goal. She hopes that an experience with her is meaningful and allows students to take the gift that is yoga and embody it in their daily lives. She also teaches at O2 Aspen yoga studio.
Soroka has proven time and again that she is able to rise above life’s challenges, and she believes that all of her students have the ability to do so as well, unlocking the human potential. Rising above chronic illness, growing to create her own business and even publishing her own upcoming book, Soroka has truly come to embody the curated being yoga therapy helped her create.
Learn more about Evan Soroka and book a session at sorokayogatherapy.com.
Photos by Alexis Ahrling Photography.
Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2020-21 issue of CO YOGA + Life® Magazine.