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Yoga Diary: Home on the Mat

After losing both parents to cancer, a woman learns to love her body.

By Claire Bidwell Smith


Several years after both of my parents passed away, I discovered yoga and slowly began to overcome the fear of my own body. I had begun to realize the limits of the human body at the young age of 14, when my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. As the date for his surgery neared, my mother anxiously complained about a pain in her stomach. An ulcer? The doctors shook their heads: colon cancer, stage 4.

Over the next 10 years, I would watch both of my parents go through multiple surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy, bouts of radiation, and eventually death. Throughout my adolescence, a time when I should have been rejoicing in the youthful abundance of my physical form, I was instead watching disease ravage both of my parents' bodies. By the time I was 25, both my mother and father were gone, and I had developed a severe mistrust of the human body.

I tried yoga. In the budding months of my practice, I realized that I had spent years ignoring my body. As I breathed my way into the poses, I became aware of my muscles, my limbs and outstretched fingers, my lithe form. One New Year's Day, during Savasana, tears slipped down my cheeks, spurred in part by regret for the years I'd spent in fear but more by gratitude for the chance to finally come to know and love this beautiful body I get to call home.

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Reader Comments


I am 25. last year in July I lost my mother to an extremely rare form of cancer. I can totally relate to the article above. My family, though we ate a lot at home where serious meat people, and not into organic food. When my mom died my husband and I started to look at what we eat, and made some serious changes. We eat more organic foods and drastically reduced our meat intake. I have also found that doing yoga is my way of prevention. My mother's death, though extremely sad, has had a positive impact on my life and how I live it. I love the article above. It's nice to know, the feelings of fear that I have towards my own body is not something I have to deal with alone.

Sara Ross

Unfortunately, my childhood was spent having a father who was in and out of hospitals. I lost him when I was 13 years old. Today I work on taking care of my body, a vigorous yoga practice, weight lifting and aerobics. I can safely say that no one eats better than we do. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing beautiful, organic, sugar-free vegan quality meals. If we don't take care of ourselves, no one else will.

Stay well and keep smiling,


very inspiring as I deal with my own bout of depression that has me very unmotivated. Yoga however has been all I look forward to.

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