Annette Dale, the founder of Yoga-stone, a line of yoga apparel, is a busy entrepreneur living in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. If you met her today, you would never know that eight years ago, she underwent risky neurosurgery to remove a brain tumor.
In the spring of 1989, Dale landed her dream job in Los Angeles as a skiwear designer and was as passionate about her career as her exercise program. At the same time, she was beginning to feel unwell. She suffered severe insomnia, vertigo, panic attacks, and a host of other symptoms, including hearing loss, mental fuzziness, and digestive problems. Because she loved her job, Dale kept her health problems to herself. Yet she suffered constantly, fighting her fatigue during meetings and business trips.
Dale sought advice from more than 40 health care professionals, including allopathic and alternative practitioners. Yet no one was able to diagnose her condition, and many doctors said it was psychological. But Dale instinctively knew that her body was not functioning correctly and felt that she would die unless she soon found the proper diagnosis and treatment. After discussing her problems with a dermatologist, she received the recommendation that would save her life: to visit an ear-nose-throat physician, who discovered her brain tumor with an MRI. Doctors scheduled Dale for a high-risk removal procedure which could result in stroke, loss of speech, and the need for a permanent gastrointestinal tube. Dale opted to have the tumor removed, and following the operation, half of her face, throat, and digestive tract were paralyzed; she could not speak or eat.
Dale began incorporating Transcendental Meditation into her rehabilitation process. After just one session of meditation, she felt movement for the very first time in her face. She continued to meditate daily. "In four years, I only missed two sessions," Dale says. "When something is right, you don't have to make yourself do it."
Although meditation was extremely beneficial, Dale wanted to further support her healing process and moved to a more "heart-centered environment," Spokane, Washington. There she began taking yoga classes with Ally Rubin, an Iyengar Yoga teacher. Within a short period of time, Dale was doing yoga four times a week. "If I did any kind of exercise too much, my immune system would crash, and I would get sick," she says. "Yoga was the only thing I could do that would not make me sick. It made me feel strong again."
Dale credits her teacher in helping her heal. "Ally was extremely compassionate and gave me a great deal of one-on-one support. Often, tears would roll down my face during asanas in class. The postures would open me up and make me feel vulnerable. It was Ally's compassion and support that helped me through." Looking back on the recovery process, Dale says, "Yoga was and is the most powerful aspect of my healing. I will never stop doing yoga or meditation."