Super-fit yoga teacher hopes to raise awareness of risk of stroke in young people
PUBLISHED: 18:59 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 22:57 31 May 2017
A super-fit yoga teacher who suffered a stroke at the age of just 35 is hoping her experience will raise awareness of the condition - and make more people realise that it doesn’t just affect the elderly.
Emily Moll, who gave up a high-flying city career as an HR executive to retrain as a yoga instructor in India, set up Kali Yoga after returning to her home town of Sheringham a couple of years ago.
She began holding classes all over north Norfolk, even designing her own fitness clothing line. She soon built up an enthusiastic following, with dozens of men and women attending weekly sessions and outdoor yoga events at Norfolk beauty spots including Baconsthorpe Castle and St Mary’s Priory. Beeston Regis.
However, eight weeks ago, when she finished taking an evening class at Aldborough after completing a 10km run during the day, she had a “weird” feeling in her right leg.
Putting it down to over-exertion, she went to bed thinking no more of it - but, at 4am, Emily’s sister Grace, who was visiting, found her on the bedroom floor and, unable to wake her, phoned an ambulance.
The next thing she knew, she was in a hospital bed unable to talk or move the right side of her body.
“They told me I’d had a stroke, but I couldn’t believe it – I thought that only happened to 80-year-olds,” she said.
“It was horrible. I just thought that was it, I wouldn’t be able to do yoga again. I just had to get better.”
Doctors said her symptoms, including loss of speech and movement, had been the result of a vertebral artery dissection - a tear to an artery supplying blood to the brain, which is the cause of less than 10pc of strokes in young people.
The rare condition, which in small number of cases can be fatal, is often caused by traffic collisions but can also occur spontaneously.
“Apparently, it can be caused by neck injury but, although something could have happened without me realising, the only sign I had was that I’d had really bad headaches for a few days before I had the stroke,” she explained.
After two weeks in hospital, full movement returned to her right side and, although she had to learn to read and spell again and still needed daily speech therapy, she was allowed to return home to Sheringham.
Her speedy recovery was helped by the “tremendous” support of friends and family, including her many yoga students.
“I was absolutely overwhelmed by the messages and, although I couldn’t read them to begin with, I think that probably helped me get through it,” she said.
“I am also really grateful to my sister as, if she hadn’t been staying with me and found me so quickly, I just don’t know what might have happened. I have no memory of that time at all so it’s quite probable that, if she hadn’t been there, I’d be dead.”
Determined to return to her former super-fit self after leaving hospital, Ms Moll began doing gentle exercises and, after an initial burst of anger, decided the way forward was to stay positive.
“I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I exercise and I eat healthily so, at first, I wondered why on earth it would happen to me - but it is just a bump in the road,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t get angry or I wouldn’t get better and if I get stressed, then I stutter, so I had to stay calm.”
A couple of weeks ago, she was delighted when her doctor gave her permission to go for a short run and, now well on the road to recovery, she began planning a new series of yoga classes.
Although she still has problems with balance, finds speaking for long periods tiring and occasionally struggles to find words, she has returned to work at Sheringham Park, where she is a retail supervisor, and hopes to go back to taking her previous nine yoga classes a week.
“I might not be quite the same as I was yet, but, although talking to people helps, I don’t want sympathy, I’m determined to get back to where I was before,” she said.
“I am nervous about getting back to teaching but what I want to do now is to raise awareness of stroke as, after it happened to me, so many people said they knew someone who had been affected.”
Ms Moll will be running an open air yoga session in aid of the Stroke Association outside Upper Sheringham village hall at 10am on Sunday, June 4. The event will include refreshments, a cake sale and a raffle. To take part, visit the Kali Yoga Facebook page