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Instructor shares passion for yoga and heart health

Being young and fit didn’t spare Claire Villalobos from a serious health scare. The yoga instructor shares her story as a warning to others.

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — For Claire Villalobos, yoga is a passion. She’s practiced it for more than a decade and taught it for years. “What I love about yoga is that it really allows you to get out of your head and into your body,” explained Villalobos, from Pass-a-Grille Beach, where she often teaches. “It’s just the ultimate stress reliever.”

When you watch Villalobos go into one of those mega-twisty poses, she certainly looks the picture of flexibility and health. So, you can imagine Villalobos’ shock when about three years ago, she lost it all.

Villalobos and her husband had just gotten to a company Christmas party, when she started feeling strange. “My vision went out, the room started spinning, got really dizzy, I couldn’t standup straight,” she said. “I had no idea what was going on. It was terrifying.”

Eventually, Villalobos found herself in an emergency room and hearing some startling news. “I was in complete disbelief, just dumbfounded. Here I am — young, healthy, and fit, and I had a stroke.”

Villalobos needed physical therapy to regain the use of her right side.

An undiagnosed heart condition may have led to her stroke. Villalobos shares her story to encourage others to be aware of their heart health.

“Get the precautions, get the checkups and don’t ever take it for granted,” she urges others.

Now, Villalobos is back to doing what she loves — yoga and playing with her husband and young son at the beach. There’s a baby girl on the way, too. Life is good. “I feel fantastic,” she said with a broad smile.

A great way to support women’s heart health is by attending the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Digital Experience, Friday, Feb. 26. 10 Tampa Bay Anchor Allison Kropff is hosting the event.

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