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Rescue on Maui: Many Heroes, their Aloha Spirit, her Yoga Training and Love for Nature saved Amanda’s life on a Hawaiian Island


Yoga techniques came to the rescue of 35-year-old Dr. Amanda Eller in Maui, allowing her to survive 17 days when she got lost on a hiking trail deep in Maui’s mountain terrains.

Hiking is a big tourism activity for locals and visitors. Amanda is from Maryland, now living on Maui.

“It came down to life and death and I had to choose – I chose life,” Eller said from her hospital bed after rescued by a chartered helicopter part of an army of volunteers  trying to find Amanda after her cell phone was discovered in the parking lot of the Kahakapao Loop Trail of the Makawao Forest Reserve. It’s one out of 9  forest reserves on  Maui.

The reserve is more than 2,000 acres and is surrounded by thousands of more acres of a dense forest full of steep ravines, lava rocks, giant ferns and thick vegetation that often must be hacked with machetes.

Ms. Eller had intended to go on a short trail walk, one she had done before. She went off the path at one point to rest, and when she resumed hiking, she got lost. A Facebook page dedicated to the search said she was only “slightly injured” and said the privately-owned helicopter had been funded by public donations.

Her training as a Doctor of Physical Therapy she knew she  had managed to stay hydrated and eating fresh fruits from the trees kept her healthy.. She was found without shoes and has been seen by an orthopedic surgeon.

Who is Dr. Amanda Eller? ” At a very young age, I found myself fascinated with the human body and inspired to help bring others back to health. I moved forward with that drive and earned my doctorate degree in physical therapy from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Physical therapy jobs relocated me from my hometown in Maryland to Florida, and ultimately Maui, where I found my “home”. The beauty and aloha spirit captivated me, making this island the perfect location to offer my private physical therapy services to my Maui Ohana.

Over the years, I have increasingly expanded my skill set through experience and continuing education courses including integrated manual therapy, kinesiotaping, Mckenzie treatment methods, spinal manipulation, and current concepts of orthopedic physical therapy, just to name a few. Living on this island has also inspired extraordinary changes, including the completion of my yoga teacher training. I have found yoga asana to be one of the most powerful injury prevention and rehabilitation practices, and I’m thrilled to now offer private sessions to my clients.

When I’m not treating patients, you can find me instructing at Afterglow Yoga Studio or exploring the beautiful outdoors while scuba diving, stand up paddle boarding and hiking.  ”

Her patient Kiera Ryon said, “Amanda is so intelligent and really understands what’s going on in your body and how to heal it.” All of this combined may have saged her own life today.

On Friday afternoon, less than an hour after her family announced a $50,000 reward for information, rescuers found Ms. Eller with a broken leg, sunburns, and scrapes, and a torn meniscus in her knee.

There were so many heroes doing their part bringing Amanda home, and Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said he’s grateful for the community’s efforts in the search.


This search and rescue was truly a community collaboration of Maui County first responders, family, friends and community volunteers,” Victorino said in a statement. “I extend my deepest appreciation for everyone involved in searching for and locating Amanda. Your work, determination and sacrifice has helped return her to her loving family. God bless them all.”