Sonja Lenhardt, 50, was born in the country of Austria. She is married to a physician and has two very successful grown children. Sonja is an avid runner, triathlete and coach who has always enjoyed pushing her body to the limit. As a teen, she was very active and recalls several bad skiing accidents and a time when she broke her nose and several teeth doing a face plant on the concrete. Over time, these injuries, combined with scoliosis, had Sonja in so much neck pain by the age of 40 that she would wake up in the night and not even be able to move her head. She was making regular visits to a chiropractor who used graston technique and stretching to alleviate her symptoms. She often felt good when she would leave and then things could come back. In the end, she found herself stretching regularly on her own to manage her pain and maintain her active lifestyle.
In 2006, Sonja stumbled across Muscle Activation Techniques™ after watching a segment on local television show where Lauren Eirk, MATm, MATRx Master Level Specialist and Founder of Yoga Integrated Science™, was discussing muscle inhibition and how to get muscles working properly again. “This made a lot of sense to me!” said Sonja. So she made an appointment. “I really felt a big difference and got a lot of relief! I still had pain for a while but it was less. MAT really helped.”
Sonja initially went to MAT and training sessions three times a week with Lauren. “It took me a long time to get to the condition in I was in. So for me, I wasn’t going to magically be healed overnight,” said Sonja. She continued to see improvements and even ran her first marathon at age 40!
Sonja’s active lifestyle didn’t slow down. She completed her first IronMan® in 2014, continued running marathons and was coaching other triathletes. The rigorous training schedule really took a toll on Sonja’s body. Sonja sustained an achilles tendon rupture that required two surgeries months after the completion of her first race. She followed the normal post-op protocol going to physical therapy, but she found that she didn’t really like what they were doing. The technique of stretching the ankle into dorsiflexion that was used in PT ended up pushing her too far, causing the sutures to come out. According to Sonja, “They never watched how I was doing things. They didn’t know how I was compensating. They just gave me exercises to do and it wasn’t helpful,” said Sonja. After three visits, she stopped going. Sonja resumed MAT where she received a more personalized regimen that made a meaningful difference. “Yoga Integrated Science™ is a unique place. Everything is very tailored to your needs. It’s not cookie cutter.”
For Sonja, she has realized that MAT must be a part of her life. She continues to go every other week or weekly when she is preparing for an Iron Man. “Maintenance on the body is like maintenance on a car,” said Sonja. “I ask a lot of my body, and MAT allows me to do what I love to do without pain.”
Sonja has recently added weekly yoga classes to her regimen to compliment her MAT sessions and build strength. “At first, it was a little embarrassing because I couldn’t stand on one leg… but could do an iron man!” Sonja laughed. “I was using muscles I wasn’t used to using. I can see how it compliments MAT. When I do both on a regular basis, I definitely see greater improvement. I have also seen the new MATRx holds even longer.”
When asked what she enjoys most about Yoga Integrated Science™, Sonja replied, “I like that variety that it offers with MAT, personal training and yoga. And I really enjoy the one-on-one attention. Even in the yoga classes the teacher focuses on you and assists you and gives advice.” Reflecting on the aging process as she approaches 50, Sonja added, “I’m a very healthy and active 50 year old who would not be able to do all of this with scoliosis if it weren’t for MAT and yoga. I wouldn’t be this pain free to enjoy life and exercise.” Sonja attends many of her classes with Yoga IS Instructor Silvia Poynter, an ex-Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps who is completing her 500 hour RYT certification through Yoga Integrated Science™.
So for Sonja, she has thankfully found the way to continue enjoying exercise without limits, and couldn’t imagine life any other way. As a testimonial for Yoga I.S.®, Sonja credits the creator, Lauren Eirk, as one of the “smartest people she has met” and Sonja is married to a doctor. Sonja says, “It’s so easy for her. The way she understands the body and how it functions… not too many people get it.”