San Luis Obispo — Rumor has it difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. For Adventure Aide and yoga instructor Kiley Schottenfeld those words could not ring any more true.
For as long as Kiley can remember, her passion has lied within animals. That passion led her to Cal Poly SLO — where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in animal science, a pre-veterinary concentration and an equine science minor with dreams of becoming a surgeon and one day operating a veterinary practice of her own.
While she was working diligently to turn those dreams into a reality, Kiley was thrown a curveball unlike any she could have ever imagined. At just 19, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease — an incurable, chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
“Crohn’s flipped my world upside down, but also opened doors into new passions,” Kiley said. “I attempted to outwork the disease and stay true to my pre-vet dreams many times, I certainly did not go down without a fight. After multiple flare-ups and trips to the hospital though, I realized I was going to have to channel my passion into something new.”
That something new was yoga.
“Yoga was the only space where I found relief,” she said. “That hour a day on my mat was the only time I didn’t feel the physical pain, or the mental and emotional stress.”
It wasn’t long after she’d stepped into the world of yoga that Kiley realized she could share that exact same revelation with others.
“I saw something special,” Kiley said. “I saw an opportunity to not only help myself, but others, too.”
Needless to say, her interest in pursuing this new direction was sparked. Kiley continued on, eventually receiving several teaching certifications. As of October 2015 she began teaching yoga and upon graduation, founded Kekoa Yoga in January 2016.
“Kekoa Yoga is a yoga based wellness platform to help IBD warriors worldwide discover harmony through healing and balance,” Kiley said. “My belief system is that it’s not always about living a pain free life, but living in freedom with our pain.”
While Kiley has undoubtedly faced experiences many of us will never truly understand, she has made the most of her journey in more ways than one.
“I am currently teaching yoga, writing my first book and teaching pre-school while I work on building my career around Kekoa Yoga,” she said. “Many opportunities have manifested themselves including one of my favorites: Adventure Aide.”
Kiley was originally introduced to the company by a friend, but was immediately intrigued by and drawn to the opportunity to get involved.
“I loved that Adventure Aide supported both people and adventure, and created opportunities to explore, create, connect and experience SLO in new ways,” Kiley said.
Kiley is today one of many adventure aides. She leads a Sun Salutation hike that includes a hike, yoga class and silent meditation — each of which individually represent important life lessons.
For Kiley and so many other SLO-cals and Central Coast visitors, Adventure Aide is the perfect opportunity to not only embrace the outdoors, but also simply step outside of both themselves and their comfort zones.
The experiences Adventure Aide offers are surely unique. In fact, the term adventure itself does not refer to exclusivity, but rather a more unusual and exciting experience or activity. By every definition of the word, it is expected to be perceived differently by all and awaken an absolutely pure sense of freedom and creativity.
That concept alone is exactly what Adventure Aide aims to do.
“There are all types and levels of adventure to show us we can create a life we love in a community that supports us, (and ultimately) live a life of freedom regardless of our circumstances,” Kiley said.
Often times people aspire to get more involved in their community, but hold back in reservation — whatever that may be.
“The answer is always in your fear — just go for it,” Kiley said. “You’ll discover so much more about yourself and what you’re capable of if you trust that you’ll make it to the other side of what you’re afraid of. Plus, there’s no better way to do so then with the support of nature, a group of fellow adventurers and a guide you can trust.”
Today because of her spirit and drive to experience new adventures, Kiley has pushed past her own difficult road and found herself in an unexpected beautiful destination.