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Meet Kelly Moyaert

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Moyaert.

Dr. Moyaert, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story consists of a balance of effort and ease. I compare my life’s journey to a river: there are times when I am paddling with a strong intention to get somewhere and there are times when I am attempting to surrender to the natural current, letting the flow of life guide me. There have been hard moments where unexpected rapids if you will, have changed my outlook and my course. In reflection, I see the gift of these painful times (of struggling) as still being beautiful and inspiring, because as it turns out, my direction shifted and unfolded in amazing ways I hadn’t anticipated nor planned for. And now in the present day, I can’t imagine the flow of my life authentically evolving in any other way.

Looking back on my story I recall: Growing up I played sports and enjoyed being a “team player.” In high school my senior year, I was a team captain and voted the MIP (Most Inspirational Player) on my soccer team. I always thrived in the role of positivity, cheering teammates on and supporting them. I was also fascinated with the human body and resolved to study exercise science at the University of Colorado in Boulder, to become a physical therapist (so I could continue to “root and cheer people on” as they recovered from injuries.) This was me “paddling the river” with a strong intention towards something. However, that destination seemingly changed when in my third year of college, I developed a chronic painful illness called endometriosis. The condition left me struggling to keep up with my studies and participate in regular daily activities. It was an especially hard time in my life, where I began to question my purpose, and the meaning of health, healing and wellness.

Being immersed as a patient, I struggled with the traditional medical world: they offered me two surgeries and (awful) medication that created hormonal side effects (I went through pseudo-menopause-like symptoms at the age of 21!) as well as additional symptoms of NEW joint pain. I felt many of the doctors I saw at this time referred me out/passed me around (when I wasn’t fitting perfectly into their box of responding typically to their prescribed treatment.) Because of their allopathic medical model, I felt I wasn’t being seen as a whole person nor was anyone truly trying to understand the root cause of my illness. Unfortunately, I also continued, despite treatment, to experience chronic pain. I’d say there was more effort than ease in this time of my life, or just trying to stay afloat… but eventually I was able to finish my studies and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from CU.

While learning to manage my own pain, I started receiving regular massages. Massage therapy greatly helped with my pain levels and the river of life seemed to passively take me to CIMT (Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy) to further my studies in anatomy/physiology and become a massage therapist. While in massage school, I picked up the book, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, written by authors Michael Murray, ND and Joe Pizzorno, ND. In the first few pages of the book, I read the description of what a naturopathic doctor does and I thought/exclaimed to myself, “this is what I want to do!” Although I was excited to practice massage therapy, I was slightly concerned about the physicality of the job and how it might be too hard on my body long term. After all, I was still trying to learn to live with chronic pain. Therefore, I developed a long term goal to make it to ND school. It took three to four more years before I would get there but eventually, I made my way to the Seattle area to study naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University. In the interim, I started my own massage business and I went back to school part time to take the necessary pre-requisites (in General and Organic Chemistry.) I loved practicing massage and in this time period, I also began to discover and learn more about how to manage my own pain through my diet and lifestyle choices.

In 2004, I moved to the northwest to start my graduate studies at Bastyr University. I would work towards earning a doctorate, eventually graduating in 2009 and then becoming a resident at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health. This was a time of much paddling: so much studying and so many clinical rotations. So much effort. And as life unfolded there also happened to be some gentle and some abrupt reminders along the way, of how to connect (and reconnect) into the ease and surrender. While playing indoor soccer, I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament.) I needed ten weeks of physical therapy, I wasn’t supposed to drive (it was my right knee) and eventually I needed a surgical repair. I recall being a student clinician, ironically leading patients into the exam room at the teaching clinic on crutches. I would even (awkwardly) take blood pressure while balancing on one leg, and then elevate my injured knee in between patients/clinical shifts/lectures. It drew out (my) resilience, as I was determined to finish my degree, but I also began to open up to finding ease within this experience. I began to tune into the need for my self-care to manage my stress. My self-care and stress management became my yoga practice. Post surgery, I began attending yoga classes regularly, and this became my saving grace of how to let go of a busy mind that carried the heavy responsibilities of patient care. It also left my body feeling balanced and open, including keeping my knee healthy and pain-free post scar tissue/surgical repair.

From residency, I transitioned into covering maternity leave for a colleague’s busy practice and a few months later decided to stay in Seattle and start my own private practice: naturopathic integrated with bodywork, (as I was also an LMP, Licensed Massage Practitioner.) Years passed and I loved my work. I had a busy and thriving practice. Like many naturopathic doctors, I was an extremely dedicated practitioner to say the least. However, I’ll admit I began to lose myself a bit in the work/life balance of it all. My career became all-too-consuming…

In late August 2013, one of my best friends, who was living in Philadelphia at the time, passed away from cancer. We actually had a phone date scheduled a couple of weeks prior, and regrettably, I missed it (because something came up at work.) It took me a long time to forgive myself for this, as I was never able to speak to her again. But what I (eventually) took from that choice I made at the time, was the realization that although I was deeply invested in helping people as a naturopathic doctor, I didn’t want to be missing out on living my own life outside of work, and connecting and spending time with the people I loved or the activities that brought me joy and balance. It is easy to slip into a level of being a “workaholic” in many fields, but especially in the medical field, and absolutely as a doctor, because there is always another patient that needs help or a specific situation/condition that could use some extra research or time spent. I realized on a very deep and vital level, that I wanted to practice what I was preaching in the realm of wellness and balance. I was open to the river guiding me…

In my grief of losing my dear friend, I was inspired to live a more authentic life. The next chapter seemed to be the river current guiding me towards deepening my relationship with myself and the preciousness of life by enrolling in a yoga teacher training program. In her last year, even with her cancer diagnosis and in between her chemo treatments, my friend, Angela, was seeking out her yoga teacher training. She finished her certification but she died before she was ever able to teach any classes. I felt inspired to pass the torch, or keep the torch lit, if you will, by enrolling in my program. I had never thought about teaching yoga before this, but something deep within my being was calling me towards it. (I think it was on some level my friend’s spirit whispering into my psyche, “do it!”) It turned out to not only be one of the best decisions I ever made, but I felt it was one of the most meaningful things I had ever done (and that is saying a lot since I was already running my medical practice caring for and helping others heal through natural means!)

Yoga has given me the gift of connection to what I truly feel is on a healing level. Practicing kindness, seeking out my truth, embracing the present moment, inviting ease and dropping judgment of how my life “should be” or “should look.” This has shifted my perspective of how I approach my daily life and how I view and observe others on their healing path.

Overall, I feel less reactive, less stressed and more grounded through my own practice of yoga. Sharing yoga, meditation and offering the space to invite others to this place of essentially letting go… (letting go of stress, letting go of fear, letting go of regret, letting go of obstacles that hold us back, letting go of negative mental talk) …I feel this to be the ultimate practice of wellness. Cultivating mindfulness and awareness within your own mind body and spirit can be supportive of health no matter what ails you. It is the biggest gift to access your self on a deeper level. It takes courage, vulnerability, self-love, presence, compassion and a willingness to show up (and be seen) on a human level. I feel inspired and thrive in offering this support and creating space for others to experience this. (Essentially, the intention is to remove blockages, or any “dams” on one’s river, thereby opening up to the flow of vitality and connection to inner joy and ease.)

Recently, I have come full circle: the river has pulled me back to Colorado. I am now living and working in Colorado Springs balancing some light paddling (effort) with some intermittent floating (ease) that is currently allowing me to discover a new inspired vision: to create a wellness environment that blends and balances my naturopathic practice and my offering of bodywork (to patients one-on-one) with (more) group sessions. I am aiming to offer yoga, meditation, mindfulness and wellness within a group setting at the clinic, (specifically evening and weekend classes/workshops) as well as the extended experience of destination yoga and wellness retreats.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Well, rather than call it a road, I’ll keep referring to the analogy of a river. 🙂 Obviously, challenges with my health issues were towards the start of my journey. They unleashed the desire and deep-seeded idea of myself wanting to get to know me on another level. It has been quite the journey of flow towards awareness and self-discovery around my attitude towards myself and my illness, around how I was coping with stress, what brought me joy, what was keeping me stuck, anxious, in a state of fear, etc. In turn, these health challenges resulted in being quite a hidden treasure. They prompted a new direction in my life, to seek out naturopathic medicine, grow my confidence and practice and serve others in a way that integrates bodywork with natural medicine along with mindfulness and therapeutic yoga. Collectively, I offer (all of) these modalities as a means for calming the nervous system and deepening the connection with self-awareness. Practicing in this way I feel I am really able to help people touch upon a deeper level of healing.

Additionally, witnessing a friend, someone I care for deeply and “grew up with” (we were friends for 18 years) go through cancer was a challenge. I miss her dearly still, and yet I am so grateful for the spark she lit within me to seek out being a yoga teacher and to continually be intentional about the choices I make and how I am attempting to live a more balanced life (not all work, some play and definitely time for connection to the ones I love.)

It is in this realm of “challenges” that I feel I have connected deeper to my definition of true healing: surrendering into ease and peace, rediscovering my inspired joy and living my wellness. They say as a provider, you can only offer the level of healing that you have experienced yourself; thus, what I feel I can offer others is authentic, inspiring, hopeful. I no longer experience chronic pain myself. And I aim to hold the space for my patients as they journey, navigate and flow through their winding river and unique story.

About a year ago, I moved back to Colorado Springs. (I grew up here and after 18 years, have returned to live closer to family.) Consequently, I am now in the process of rebuilding a thriving practice from the ground up. As my practice grows, I continually aspire to seek balance in all parts of my life.

Please tell us about your practice.
What sets me apart is that I create space to integrate mind body and spirit into a patient’s treatment plan. Whether that includes lifestyle counseling, botanical medicine, nutraceutical support, diet modification, stress-management, hydrotherapy, therapeutic yoga sessions, or hands-on healing bodywork such as CranioSacral Therapy or a gentle fascia release technique called Bowenwork therapy….

I practice multiple hands-on modalities. I believe strongly in the subtle healing power of therapeutic touch, balancing the nervous system and releasing fascia restrictions to decrease pain and promote the flow of ease and wellness. Simply put, I believe our health and wellness (and our capacity to heal) is inversely related to the tension and stress we hold.

My strengths are in cultivating the therapeutic relationship between doctor and patient. I aim to be present, compassionate, listen empathically and hold the space for healing to unfold for another. I consider myself to be on my patients’ “healing team” and while I may offer guidance, grounding and inspiration through the many modalities in my “toolbox,” my overarching intention is to empower the individual to know themselves. Together, and over time, we begin to remove the layers of stress or any other veils/obstacles that are blocking connection to their own inner vitality and innate ability to heal.

The word doctor comes from the Latin “Docere,” meaning teacher. This is a wonderful term that encompasses all I do in my practice as a naturopathic doctor/teacher and as a yoga teacher. I educate, empower, listen, hold the space, lead by example, gently guide and practice patience, kindness, compassion and mindful presence with each person who walks through my door.

Some areas of expansion for my practice include some exciting upcoming plans! I am leading (hosting) a yoga retreat called THE ELEMENTS OF WELLNESS in Todos Santos, Mexico next April (April 1-6, 2020.) I am so passionate about bringing a group together to connect, share in a safe space that allows and invites self-care and self-discovery, but also demonstrates the subtle power of how supporting others and cultivating community contributes to wellness and healing. While on this retreat I will facilitate and lead the group through practicing yoga postures (asana), meditation, healing breath practices & offer evening restorative sessions with a therapeutic touch that calms and nourishes the nervous system and aims to decrease the effects of stress, all together. There is something special that happens on retreat: people are removed from their everyday life stressors and responsibilities, and thus they can relax and access a deeper part of themselves. This can lead to amazing personal insights while on retreat, and many times attendees feel a shift and not only connect meaningfully with others but also reconnect to their own confidence, compassion and joy, and their own inner source of wisdom and ease.

I also want to mention that I am now offering Restorative Yoga sessions on Friday evenings at the clinic I currently work at (Halsa Naturopathic Medicine) in the yoga room. It is a small group gathering of four to five people, and I aim to create a cozy, non-intimidating relaxing environment to let go, release stress and connect to ease.

In the next three to six months, I am hoping to expand and add additional classes to my offerings:
– A two hour yoga session on the weekends (held 1x/month.) This special class will include (a seasonal theme,) gentle slow flow vinyasa yoga, a breath practice, meditation and end with some restorative yoga poses.
-weekly (lunchtime) chair yoga
-mindful meditation group sessions (evening)

I intend to grow slowly and increase these offerings over time, as space in the clinic and space in my schedule allows. Each session/class will always be in a small group setting (to encourage feeling safe, included, supported and “seen”.) And by the way, you do not have to be a patient at the clinic to take part in these group yoga sessions.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Wow, that is a tough question. (This might sound strange but) I can tell you that I was so filled with immense gratitude when I was closing my practice in Seattle and transitioning to Colorado last year. It was an emotional time, and it felt a bit surreal. (I practiced at Seattle Integrative Medicine for almost a decade, and many of my patients had been with me for years.)

To receive all the love, feedback and sentiments of how much I had positively impacted my patients’ lives, (through natural medicine, through listening, through presence and support, through teaching yoga and mindfulness practices, etc.) brought (happy) tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart.

The overwhelming expression from others of how much would be missed was so heartfelt and so very priceless to me. I truly felt so appreciated, and it sunk in deep how precious our connection and our time with others can be. I learned so much from all of my patients and have so much gratitude for each and every one of them. Receiving all the hugs, thank you cards, gifts, testimonials, and well-wishes touched my heart and soul deeply. I will always remember that decade as a very special chapter in my life. And I continue to keep in touch with many of these past patients (with trips back to the Seattle area once or twice a year to host yoga workshops and/or weekend retreats.)

Contact Info:

  • Address: 122 East Las Animas Street
    Colorado Springs, CO 80903
  • Website: www.drkellymoyaert.com
  • Phone: 719-551-5282
  • Email: drkellymoyaert@gmail.com


Image Credit:
Megan Murillo

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