Briana Donis, 19, says yoga gives her the physical, mental and emotional strength to fight her aplastic anemia

By Gabrielle Olya
Updated March 20, 2015 05:50 PM
Courtesy Briana Donis

A rare and debilitating blood disease isn’t stopping 19-year-old Briana Donis from doing what she loves – yoga – even while isolated in her hospital room.

A year ago Donis was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, which prevents the body from producing blood cells and results in uncontrolled bleeding and fatigue. Since then she has been forced to spend months in the hospital, often in isolation due to her severely compromised immune system. Yet nearly every day she posts a photo of her in a complicated yoga pose on her her Instagram account.

“I find so much joy and peace and normalcy in yoga,” Donis tells PEOPLE. “I’m in the hospital and I’m stuck here, and there’s nothing else for me to do, but I can bring my yoga with me wherever I go. I think that it being something that anybody can do at any time makes me want to do it, too. It keeps me determined.”

Her love of yoga began in January 2013, and she maintained her dedication to the practice even after her diagnosis two months later.

“Physically my body’s weak and it’s like I’m starting this journey over again, but I know I’ve done it before, I can do it again, and that’s what I’m pushing for every day,” she says. “I love the strength [I get from yoga] because it’s not just a physical one – it really is a mental one, and inner one, and that’s what keeps me doing it because I love the challenge.”

Donis just received her second bone marrow transplant this week, and if it is successful she will be able to create blood cells on her own. In the meantime, she remains in isolation in her room at the Texas Children s Medical Center, but she’s keeping her spirits high.

“I’m still doing my yoga because I love it,” she says.

Donis hopes the followers of her Instagram can draw inspiration from her posts.

“I just want people to not stress over the little things in life,” she says. “I want them to be inspired [and know] that they are strong too. Even if it’s a little thing or it’s a big giant they’re facing, they can overcome it. This girl in this hospital is doing it, so why can’t you?”

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