Yoga for Healing
I found yoga in the beginning of 2009 when I was starting my second year of university. I couldn’t shake this feeling that I had; I felt like something was missing or that I had a loose piece in my life and in my body. Being a varsity athlete at the time, I [thought I] was pursuing yoga for the physical activity; I wanted to get stronger and increase flexibility. Shortly after completing a two week intro package, I became aware of the quieting and calming effects that yoga had on my body. But, I wasn’t in a mental or emotional place to commit to yoga, even though I knew it made me feel good (and sometimes better). Fast forward to 3 months later, and I was sitting in my doctor’s office watching the words fall out of his mouth, “The staining showed that you have Stage 4 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma”. Cancer. Cue the quarter life crisis music. So there I was barely 20 years old and trying to figure out what this meant to me and how this would change things-how this would change me.
At this time I was volunteering in Moksha Yoga Waterloo’s energy exchange program, spending 4 hours a week in studio maintaining its cleanliness in exchange for unlimited yoga. I realize now, looking back at my state of existence, that yoga was just beginning to plant its seeds in my life. I was, in all honesty, showing up more so out of commitment than desire. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge the healing I was resisting, I hadn’t opened myself up to vulnerability yet, and I still needed (maybe even wanted) that internal struggle…it was all I knew. But, little by little, yoga made its way into my day-to-day experiences. I began to hear certain words louder, I felt more open to feel things deeper, and I started to practice trust.
Eventually when I would get myself to class, a natural dialogue between me and my body developed: “Hmm, why is it hard to breath today?”, “Oh wow, I am feeling tight in my hips today”, “Why am I feeling so damn sad right now?”. Soon this dialogue blossomed into a rapport and I began to build a relationship with mySelf (that capital S isn’t a typo either, here I am referring to connecting my conscious self with my true, higher Self). In the beginning of this relationship, the honeymoon phase some would call it, I had to learn what my body was telling me. For example, when I’d wake up in the morning with my back yelling at me my initial response would have been,”I’m 20 years old and have to wake up every day with back pain!?” I began taking responsibility in this relationship, “Okay lower back, so you don’t like it when I sit like that and that’s why you were yelling at me”. The more time I spent listening to what my body was saying, the less I got triggered into reacting emotionally. Overcoming my habit to react instead of listen transformed my life because I stopped giving my power away and took empowerment over my own health and wellness.
In my experience, yoga has been a life saving tool for me to continue living in remission, and as of 2015 living cancer free! What first began as a simple workout, grew deeper into a practice of self connection and discovery. Yoga has helped rehabilitate both my body and mind, and cultivate a certain confidence and knowing in my own judgement and intuition. As I describe in my “Yoga ~ Self-Service” section of this website, there are different depths to yoga and each person will experience their practice differently and utilize yoga as a tool for various ends.
I am so happy to hear that medical doctors are now prescribing yoga as therapy and referring clients to Yoga Therapists. For the more clinical and research driven folks, there are hundreds of peer-reviewed articles on the benefits of yoga for numerous ailments and symptoms. No matter how technologically advanced we have become or how developed our countries continue to grow, certain traditions (no matter how ancient and old) will continue to heal and sooth pain and suffering despite how different the world, today, may be. The fact is yoga works – it may just come in different shapes than you thought it would! But, the whole truth is….lean in here for a moment….it’s not really yoga that works, it’s you showing up, ready and willing for change. As Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said, ‘Do your practice and all is coming.’
Take a nice read over the Yoga Journal article that got me going on this rant to begin with:
After writing this post today, I am feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for my ability to share this story with you and have a community, a peer group, to learn alongside. Thank you for being here, right now. And, thank you for allowing me to share some intimate details about my experiences with you. Sending you love and light!