The moment you step in the aura of Fern Olivia you immediately pick up on her contagious smile and soothing voice. Her captivating warm compassion and eye contact puts you in a trace like state. Fern has had her share of health struggles with an auto-immune disease but is now building an empire for herself with Thyroid Yoga. We sat down with Fern to get a taste of her dynamic life.
1. Fern , tell us about how you got on the path of healing and yoga?
For nearly a decade, I battled against my body and the horrible discomfort of chronic congestion, puffiness, brain fog, constipation, food allergies, and severe stomach irritability.
I spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars traveling from doctor to doctor, feeling like a lost patient who was completely disconnected from her body, wanting so badly to just be given a magical solution to it all. I was told I had hypothyroidism, meaning my thyroid was underactive, and that’s why I was having all the uncomfortable feelings in my body. I was given every type of thyroid medication in the book to mask the symptoms I was experiencing – rather than getting down and dirty with why I was feeling so awfully rotten in the first place. At one point I was on 125 mcg of synthroid and 5 mcg of cytomel and still felt like a zombie. The worst part - I was told that I would always have these symptoms and would just have to “deal with them.”
After I graduated from college, I thought I was living the American Dream when I landed a swanky desk job at a prestigious investment bank in New York City. However, the 14-hour days felt like anything but that. I often experienced vertigo when staring at my computer and starting getting daily migraines that I took excedrin for regularly. I’d also pop a Zyrtec with my Synthroid before my cereal and soy milk each morning to clear my stuffy, runny nose. And even with all of that, I still felt awful. Finally, at the age of 22, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyoriditis, which is the autoimmune form of hypothyroidism. My own immune system was destroying my thyroid cells. This “attack and destroy” can cause wild symptom swings from hypothyroid to hyperthyroid, and back.
I’d had enough. I thought to myself, “I studied biomechanics and neuroscience, with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Why can’t I figure this out?” Turns out, I could…but in an unexpected place.
Yoga found me on a lunch break in between stressful meetings and staring at databases in Excel. Yoga fascinated me as I began noticing patterns of how I ate and treated myself, how I was spending my day, and how this related to how I felt on my yoga mat, and getting really excited about what this all meant. I began to take the first steps of being my own healer, instead of relying on test results and no clear direction. This was a whole new world to me, and as I began to feel better, I began to see that what I was putting in my body – and how I was treating it – was making a huge difference on how I felt.
Each time I returned to my yoga mat, I not only felt clear-headed, but also safe, comforted and loved — feelings I had been lacking in my life — and I realized that this practice allowed me to connect with myself in a way that I hadn’t been able to elsewhere. I found immense strength through my own journey and realized that my body had been screaming at me so long, just asking me to listen.
Now, I’ve made it my career to empower men and women to tap into their own intuitive healer and live their most vibrant, healthy, fulfilled life, too.
2. Do you have a daily ritual or mantra?
I like to say that daily rituals are habits made holy. Rituals bring us into alignment with who we really are and showing up for ourselves makes a declaration that we are committed to our own success and well-being.
Sadhana, or daily practice, is a must for me, and it’s a pillar that I talk about in my Thyroid Yoga course. It's a non-negotiable holy practice that reminds me that I am worthy before I go out into the world - and yes, that means before I turn on my phone and check email or my Instagram feed.
Every morning, I look in the mirror and gaze into my own eyes for three minutes, repeating the affirmation: “I see you, you’re beautiful.” Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry. Each day may bring up a new feeling – of appreciation, of understanding, of compassion. I remind myself I am worthy of all abundance that is coming in.
I also began experimenting with essential oils to nourish and support my thyroid and as I learned more about the incredible healing potential of nature’s medicine cabinet, I began to create my own blends. I became empowered in my own self-healing, adapting holistic rituals to support my vitality. The simple self-care ritual of rolling a seductive fragrance on my throat and heart chakra every day while repeating affirmations has radically changed my life. Inspired by my own practice, I created Grace Alchemy, a rose and patchouli blend that makes all men within a 10-foot radius swoon. It’s true, you have to try it. Everyone - including a top dating coach - keeps telling me that it’s their new signature scent!
I begin each morning with a run out my front door, through the sand, into the cool Pacific Ocean. Splashing in the waves invigorates me and stimulates my lymphatic system - and as a bonus, is super anti-aging. Cold water plunges are incredible for immune health, and I’ve noticed that I feel significantly more energized when I have my ocean plunge first thing in the morning. When I’m traveling, I swap in cold showers for the ocean, which certainly isn’t as fun but does the trick.
At night, I lay on my sheepskin rug with a massive rose quartz crystal on my heart chakra. This crystal found me in Sedona and it provides immense grounding and healing energy!
3. What are your three staples for glowing health?
Beauty is the healing food I nourish myself with, the sensual alchemy that kisses my skin, the gorgeous friends I choose to enjoy time with, the sacred home I have created, and the retreats and healing experiences I treat myself lavishly with every day. Beauty is taking care of myself in the most loving and kind-hearted way.
Here are 3 of my staples:
My beauty ritual begins the moment I open my eyes and mentally say a prayer of gratitude. Then, I prepare herbal loose leaf from my friend Nicole Granato - she has an organic hibiscus rose petal tea that is just so beautiful, I feel myself getting more gorgeous as I watch it steep. Why use a plain tea bag when you can fill your cup with fragrant, lush herbs and flowers?
During my recent visit to Aja Malibu, a stunning luxury-boutique mountain retreat for the health and wellness-seeking connoisseur in Malibu’s Latigo Canyon, I had the gift of receiving an intimate tour of the property’s biodynamic vegetable and medicinal herb gardens with the beautiful founder, Iannya Magick. As I picked and tasted whole herbs fresh from the earth - Tulsi, Sage, Jasmine, Lemon Balm, and Holy Basil - my taste buds smiled and I felt reconnected to the beauty of life. Returning home, I have made infusing my tea and lemon water with fresh herbs a daily beauty ritual.
I moisturize my skin throughout the day with Solar Sun Protect, a skin protectant from my own organic beauty apothecary, Ajai Alchemy, made from all organic essential oils in a base of carrot oil and coconut oil to protect my skin. Living in Los Angeles and travelling frequently to sunny destinations such as Sedona, Hawaii and the Cayman Islands, I made this to give my skin some extra love as I spend my days practicing and teaching yoga on the beach. It gives my skin a dewy, radiant glow and the cedarwood and geranium essential oils protect against breakouts. The scent is sensual, aphrodisiac and adored by both men and women, and was recently named the signature scent of the Further Future Festival, which I taught at this past spring.
I apply Radiance Hair Serum to my hair, which keeps my beach curls wild and sexy without the frizz. Ever since moving to California, I stopped damaging my hair with the flat iron. My hair is the happiest and healthiest it’s been in YEARS!
4. Tell us about Thyroid Yoga?
We are constantly told we are broken, or something is missing, or we need drugs.
We are constantly looking outside ourselves for answers.
When I began to look inside, I became more intuitive and began to finally notice huge shifts in my life. Yoga was the catalyst for me and as I have been experimenting with so many different healing modalities, I’ve learned how to finally feel good in my body again. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the past six years and have been shocked and how fast these practices really work - and how doctors often completely overlook these potent tools!
I have cross-pollinated ancient yogic wisdom and healing practices to create something refreshingly new, yet refined with rich substance and deep history. This is precisely why I created Thyroid.Yoga™ about 4 years ago, a method designed to empower men and women to say goodbye to survival mode and embody radiant health again.
In other words, in Thyroid.Yoga™, we discover how to unveil all the bullshit holding us back - and release it. It’s like nothing out there.
What makes my work unique is that I bring together the strongest possible offering for the physical, emotional and cultural health of my students and community.
I’ve been able to curate a program that works for everything, through combining the best of the best knowledge from the most renowned teachers, healers and experts. This is the game-changer - and it just recently launched on MindBodyGreen - I invite you to watch it here!
I’ve also created the Thyroid.Yoga™ Inner Circle, a special membership opportunity for those looking to understand their symptoms and finally free themselves from the mercy of thyroid and other hormone imbalances. I’m thrilled to offer my expert advice along with the support of the healers and leaders in the holistic health space, along with exclusive content - meditations and yoga sequences from me and I’ll be providing my answers to the most challenging thyroid questions in a safe and supportive forum.
I’m also really excited to be offering a one-of-a-kind teacher training program - for healers, teachers, or anyone looking to understand their thyroid and how to finally liberate themselves to speak from their soul. It’s happening at RA MA in Venice this upcoming November 3-6 and will be available globally via livestream, too! You can learn all about it here.
5. Your energy is healing and contagious, how do you move through adversity?
Thank you! I’m constantly bathing myself in sage and practicing yoga so I can keep my energy field strong and release any tension that I may have picked up. As an empath, I always feel for others and there was a time when I took on the energy of everyone around me, and I realized I was getting exhausted ALL THE TIME. I’ve learned how to move through challenges with grace - I have to, because I have a big purpose on this planet, so challenges will come up to stretch me. I meet resistance with determination and motivation to get to the other side and know these situations will make me stronger.
I am kind to all those who I meet, because I know that when others’ may be short with me or not friendly for some reason, they are going through their own journey. I protect my own energy by setting boundaries from a place of integrity, love, and conscious communication.
6. Who are some sources of inspiration for you?
Elena Brower - Elena an amazing yoga teacher, mamma, healer and dear friend. She does it all, and she’s so classy, calm and poised. She manages so much and stays true to herself and her students. She’s a blessing in my life, and I am very grateful to have studied with her extensively in New York.
Dana James - Dana is one of my most influential role models and friends. She embodies grace and femininity, and is a true powerhouse in the wellness world. She rocks at what she does, she’s driven and is like a big sister to me.
Taryn Toomey - Taryn is the badass of the fitness world. She’s created something called The Class, which is a spiritual somatic experience. There’s nothing like it - you’ve got to try it. I love that she just is fearlessly herself and has dedicated her life to empowering women to fearlessly be themselves, too.
Guru Jagat - Guru Jagat is the founder of RA MA Institute, a kundalini yoga studio in Venice and an epic global community. She’s uncensored - she really wants her students and the world to be aware and awakened to what’s really going on. I love that about her. She’s been the catalyst for me to step into my power here in LA and I admire everything she’s creating with RA MA around the world.
7. Share with us 3 steps to start our mornings with abundance?
As you open your eyes, thank heavens for this ability to be alive another day, to be in this body and to have another day to be great! Thank all of the beautiful relationships and experiences you will cultivate today.
Take a shower and feel the water on your skin. Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths as the water graces your body. It's an amazing way to consciously set your energy and intention towards your day.
Bless your breakfast, your coffee, and your green juice! Consume slow and consciously, notice the textures and the feelings on your lips. It was made with so much love and intention, and it will nourish you so you can crush this day!
8. What 3 yoga poses do you recommend to the community to use on the daily basis?
1. Cat/Cow spinal flexion: If you only have three minutes in the morning to dedicate to your yoga practice, this simple exercise is the one I recommend most to eliminate brain fog and fatigue, which are two of the most common symptoms of thyroid imbalances.
Why? The movement of cat-cow, known as spinal flexion, increases the circulation of the spinal fluid, which contributes to greater mental clarity, according to Kundalini Yoga, because all 26 vertebrae receive stimulation and all the energy centers receive a burst of energy.
Begin on hands and knees, with knees under hips and palms directly under the shoulders. As you inhale, press your chest forward past your upper arms and spread apart your sitting bones, making sure to keep your arms straight, shoulders and knees in position. Be sure to lengthen through the lumbar spine and broaden your shoulders as you press your breastbone forward.
Try to speed the movement up to a rapid and rhythmic pace to promote energy flow, which in turn presses out the stagnant energy and decreases inflammation, releasing blockages that have been stored in the organs and glandular system. Keep up for 3 minutes.
2. Three minutes of Frog Lifts.
This exercise incorporates yoga asana (movement) and pranayama (breath work) to stimulate the glandular system and balance the metabolism.
As you inhale, squat down, balancing on the balls of your feet, heels touching and raised up. Place your fingertips on the ground between your legs and slightly in front, spine arched, and chin slightly lifted. As you exhale, bow into your legs drawing the navel point inward as you straighten your legs, heels remain touching and lifted, and fingertips remain grounded. The movement is rapid.
3. Chair pose with the eagle arm variation
This particular arm variation is one of the best ways to nourish your thyroid because you are creating space in the throat region, through the leverage created by the hook of the chin over the upper arm.
Each time you finish the pose, notice the warmth around the neck region. This powerful exercise strengthens the lower body while it flushes chronic stress and stagnation from your adrenals and activates your thyroid.
Stand in Tadasana, mountain pose and take five deep breaths here, feeling your feet connected to the earth Take five deep breaths in Chair Pose, knees bent and seat back, with arms alongside ears, then return to Mountain Pose and ensure your feet are still set at inner hips width apart, toes facing straight forward.
Wrap left arm under right and lift the elbows up and out, tucking the chin into the elbow crease of upper arm, and breathe deeply into the back of the throat. Take five deep breaths here; repeat with the other arm on top.
Keep sending your seat back while lifting your elbows out and up, as you move your shoulders down away from your ears. Swallow to stimulate release of any congestion around your throat. Try to keep your face relaxed as you take three deep breaths. Find comfort in the boundaries, and breathe space into the back of your throat. Then release your arms and pause in Mountain Pose, standing up tall with your arms alongside your body.
This pose may feel uncomfortable and tight at first. If your palms are not pressing together, that is okay. Just take a hold of the higher wrist and try to pull your wrist up as you lift your elbows. As you do this, squeeze your elbows and forearms together.
Certain biochemical imbalances in the brain can adversely affect the body and emotions, such as hormone imbalances and challenging afflictions such as anxiety, food cravings, and emotional eating. Balance sequences trigger the right and left sides of the brain, realign electrical circuitry, and restore biochemical balance in your body, according to the teachings of Kundalini Yoga.
Finish your sequence with a forward fold, feet hip width apart and hands holding opposite elbows. Take 10 long, deep breaths here as you allow your head to drop heavy and your neck to lengthen. This pose brings release to the adrenals, so invite your lower back to expand while you keep your knees bent!
To come out of this pose, slowly release your arms and roll up to stand, bone by bone, head coming up last. Take a few breaths in mountain pose, standing tall with your eyes closed to notice the effects of these movements and the healing you have offered your body as the breath circulates around your organs.
Fern Olivia Langham is a LA-based yoga instructor and wellness expert renowned for her artful approach to self-healing and founder of Thyroid Yoga. She combines her extensive knowledge of yoga, meditation, breathwork, mantra, holistic health, and her own plant-based alchemy Ajai Alchemy into a one-of-a-kind integrative approach. View her offerings on her website, and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.