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Cleveland Yoga instructor inspires through music and survival

In our 'You go, Girl' series, we introduce you to Ylonda Rosenthal-Greene who uses music to inspire and heal after a stroke.

WESTLAKE, Ohio — Yoga is an ancient practice that connects body and mind. People who hit the mat on a regular basis will tell you, a great teacher can take that connection even deeper. 

Ylonda Rosenthal-Greene uses music to compliment her practice and truly shows that yoga can be even more powerful than just body and mind.

The room at Cleveland Yoga is typically shoulder to shoulder, mat to mat, as Ylonda pumps up the heat and the music. The playlist carefully chosen by a professional.

“I'm a cellist, and I've been playing since I was 9 years old,” Ylonda says. “I associate music with memories. It always takes me back to a place.”

Music is her lifeline. It was her major, it lead her to her husband, was her first career and when she discovered yoga, music seemed to be the underlying element.

“It's a beat-driven class, so you're moving to the beat almost like you're dancing.”

Life was moving fast. Ylonda's kids were growing, her class sizes were growing.

“I was completely spread too thin. I was trying to be a mom, a wife, develop a business being a yoga teacher.”

And then everything stopped.

“I remember that I took my oldest to school and I came back to pick up the other two and when I walked in, I couldn't keep my balance. And I called for my husband and he saw the whole half of my face went limp."

At age 39, with no other sign of health issues, Ylonda suffered a stroke.

“From that stroke, I lost the ability to hold onto memories.”

She said -- at first -- she was in denial. But then she realized, she lost memories of her children, her marriage and got lost in daily tasks.

“I could be driving home from work, and I've done this drive a hundred times, but I'll drive home from work and I'll forget where I'm going.”

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It's been three years and Ylonda says she's learned to live with the permanent effects of her stroke. But there's one thing she's relied on to help her: Music.

“The music tells me where we are in the class. So I can't get lost. Even if I don't remember what we just did, I just know the music is playing at this tempo, we're supposed to be moving now.”

Music gives her an emotional connection to people and places, which she says is the only way she can remember.

You'd never know it as she quickly flows through her practice, but everyone in this room knows there's something powerful about Ylonda's voice, her music and her undeniable strength.

“I value every moment that I have. Because every day when I wake up, I'm so lucky to be here. I mean so many other people were not blessed in that way and I just feel extremely extremely lucky to still be here with my three kids and my husband.”