In 2012, Gabriella Perez worked as an administrative assistant for a heart transplant program at a local pediatric hospital. Witnessing countless children and their families receive a second chance at life and love through others’ loss was incredibly impactful. The experience illuminated Gabriella’s need for her own healing, she said,“at that point, I still hadn’t taken the time to heal from the loss of my father.”
Gabriella’s father passed when she was ten years old.
On a trip to Costa Rica in August of 2012, Gabriella found yoga, during her first class she said, “I cried in savasana and felt an immense amount of healing.” Gabriella had initially traveled to Costa Rica to learn Spanish — she ended up using the time for a “healing journey”.
On the plane ride home, she could only think of one question: “How can I share this amazing gift that has changed my life forever?”
First, she changed her habits. Gabriella shared, “when I returned from Costa Rica, I started a daily yoga practice and cared more about what I was doing and putting into my body in regards to food and partying. It was a complete transformation. I now care more about the environment and realize how deeply we are all connected.”
Then, she enrolled in Sunny Richard’s Yoga Teacher Training at Santosha in Bali in September of 2013. Teacher training extended Gabriella’s practice “beyond the physical”, as she refers to the program as a “spiritual experience”.
Before Gabriella enrolled in her Yoga Teacher Training, she knew she wanted to share the infinite gifts of yoga with pediatric patients, their families, and the hospital staff. So upon her return, Gabriella connected with a doctor, a woman that previously worked with her father and regularly practiced yoga. Through her connection, she was able to schedule meetings with the hospital to initiate a yoga program. She wanted the program to be, “full circle healing for the full spectrum of people involved in the hospital.”
Gabriella solidified Sharing the Gift as a 501c3 nonprofit in 2014. Through her experience, she has learned, “it’s a long, humbling process.” After facing some red-tape at hospitals, Gabriella is staying optimistic, “a year and a half after founding the organization, I feel better knowing it’s a process and it makes it easier to enjoy the journey. Life is this constant journey, it does not simply happen overnight.”
As Gabriella works to develop her relationships with the hospitals, she is doing what she can to serve the pediatric community. Sharing the Gift has hosted two summer camps at Camp Fiesta. The most recent eleven day adventure camp on the beach offered yoga and meditation to local children with cancer. This year, Sharing the Gift donated a new yoga mat to each camper! See the magic of Sharing the Gift at Camp Fiesta for yourself, Giancarlo Candia donated his time and efforts to capture the experience, click here to watch.
For Gabriella, the greatest gift she’s received on her quest to Share her Gift with others is perspective. She said, “I believe my father lost the battle to his mind before losing the battle to the cancer itself. This reflection came about because of my current and expanding knowledge upon the power of our minds, another gift I discovered through the Gift of Yoga. I’ve realized the power of our thoughts and how they make a significant difference in the quality of our life. Because being in the hospital often comes with harsh news and scary information, it is part of my mission to remind everyone that they are more than a diagnosis. That their mind can be a powerful muscle! When we train and nourish our mind with love, it will become strong, just as any other part of our body. Every day, I set the intention to Share Gifts of Yoga and Healing with as many souls as possible, in as many ways as possible. Connecting healing hands with healing hearts, we can be pillars of support and strength in a variety of ways for all whom we come into contact with.”