Yoga for Cancer
With a skilled and sensitive teacher in a safe environment, yoga can give us that gift. It can begin to create an inner environment that prepares the ground for healing. It is as if, when we clear away the mental debris through yoga and meditation, our being breathes a sigh of relief, and the residual energy alive in us is allowed to grow and flourish. We empower this most vital and elemental part of ourselves when we hold still, when we pay attention. Some would call this process spiritual. All of us, whatever our beliefs, can recognize this state of grace, this moment of freedom. Yoga teachers can show us how to cultivate this healing condition, give us the physical and mental tools, even when we are gravely ill, to access our deepest, most sustaining energy.
One recent night I went to yoga class at the gym. In a mirrored studio, I worked at lengthening my neck in Shoulderstand, and the other moves and awarenesses the young male instructor encouraged us to experience. Of the 20 or so students in the room, I may have been the only one who had experienced cancer. I was probably the oldest person, and I'm sure I was the one with the roundest tummy. But perhaps I knew, better than the others, why I was there.
For 20 years I did the same five yoga postures every morning, never challenging myself. Now I want to develop precision, build strength, experience the farthest reaches of my body's possibilities. Will this help, along with diet, aerobic exercise, and meditation, to prevent a recurrence of my cancer?
On the one hand, I believe it will. On the other hand, it doesn't matter, because the real reason I do yoga is the feeling I get, that visceral sense of be