Maris Degener's life changed for the better when she discovered yoga. Once anxious and suffering from anorexia, this healthy 16-year-old wants to dedicate her life to helping others. Click through our gallery to learn more of Degener's story.
"My biggest advice for others is to seek and pursue what makes you feel most confident in yourself," Degener said. "If you're passionate about the things you do, you will be able to be true to yourself and love yourself for who you are."
Degener credits Jenni Wendell (left),owner of Just Be Yoga, in Walnut Creek, California, with helping to redirect her life.
The community at Just Be Yoga has become a supportive second family for Degener. "All of the happiness we're seeking is within ourselves," Wendell said. "I think you realize that when you're a part of something greater."
Degener's mother, Sharon, has been a huge supporter, driving her to yoga classes and attending retreats with her.
In the beginning, Degener said little when she attended classes at Just Be, but Wendell said she always thanked and hugged her instructors after class.
"Nothing had ever clicked with me before," Degener said on discovering yoga. "To have something click was just the most amazing feeling."
"I want to share my story because I feel that it's the most powerful way to spread a message. I'm passionate about authenticity," Degener said. "I believe authenticity is the uniting force among all people of all ages, and if we are willing to be vulnerable and open with others, they will feel safe enough to do the same."