Tag Archives: yoga as a way of coping with cancer

A beautiful way to move

An essential component of a loving long term relationship is gratitude; genuine appreciation for and recognition of the beloved. It is also important to not approach gratitude passively; it should be expressed. Undoubtedly one of the most effect ways in which to express our appreciation is caring. To care for, to take care of.

In my last post I talked about loving our bodies. For better or worse and until death do we part; there is no more intimate and/or long term relationship than this.

There was a time, not so long ago really, where I took my physical self for granted. Bit of a slow learner, I am. Now, I’m doing my best to give my body all the attention it deserves. One of the most important steps I have taken is to commit to yoga classes. On Tuesdays, I attend a class at the local YMCA, and on Thursdays an evening session for cancer survivors. Both classes are led by instructors from a really wonderful non profit organization called YogaCaps, Inc.  From their web page:   “…there is great potential for yoga as a transformational tool for social justice.”

Yoga as a transformational tool, not just for our bodies but social justice. It is easy to imagine that a world in which everyone had access to the calming influence of yoga might indeed be a better place.

Two members of my family are particularly pleased that I have finally gotten the yoga bug. One of my sisters, Laura Pastor, has been practicing yoga since 2003. She is also an avid runner, including marathons, and began taking yoga classes as a way to open up and stretch her muscles. She practices Bikram, Hatha and Vinyasa Flow and has recently begun sharing her love of yoga as a teacher.

According to Laura, she “enjoys the mental and spiritual benefits of yoga even more than the physical flexibility that it provides.”

My stepmom Carolyn Kersten has been practicing yoga for seventeen years now. When I first met her, she was thirty years old and had been a dancer and played the piano beautifully. By the time she was forty, she was battling rheumatoid arthritis. The pain and fatigue were debilitating in the early years, and although she insists they no longer hurt, her feet and her hands are now gnarled and misshapen to such a degree that even opening a jar can be difficult. I will let her describe in her own words her relationship with yoga:

“The 1st class of yoga hooked me.  It made my body “feel good”.  That was in 1995 when I was 53 years old.

At 31 I began getting serious about exercise.  Tried running around the block, but couldn’t.  Became determined.  When 37, I completed a marathon.  A couple of years later, I got rheumatoid arthritis, and could do nothing except barely make it through each day.  I am persistent.  I continued to “try” exercising.  Learned to swim laps.  Slowly became stronger.  Through diet and much prayer the arthritis was no longer an issue after about 10 years.

So after many yoga classes and attending conferences and workshops, I decided to get officially trained so I could teach it.  I have been teaching (mostly Iyengar) yoga at a hospital owned health club since Aug. 2000.  During this time, both of my hips have been replaced—one in 2006 and the other 2011.  People look at the deformity  in my hands, and learn that my hips are titanium, and figure if I can do yoga, that they can too!

I love teaching yoga.  It continues to make such a positive impact in my life, that I want to share it with others.  Try it—you’ll like it!”

So there you go. Three personal testimonials. In my case, I’ve only just begun but I’m already urging my husband to give it a go. It just does a body (and a spirit) good.