|Lotus Blossom Photo from Google Images|
I was having a discussion with a family doctor at the Cancer Clinic last week, about managing the anxiety which is common in people who are going through or who have been through cancer treatment. The conversation was following a usual course-which drugs are most effective, what are the contraindications, etc., when she asked me, "Do you know the yoga poses for treating anxiety?" I was impressed; as it happens, her daughter is a yoga instructor and the good doctor is quite convinced that yoga can bring great benefits to those engaged in the medical system.
I love it when Western medicine begins to catch up to yoga. Three years ago, the consensus here was that people with cancer should "live their lives" and that there was nothing they could do to help themselves, because "the damage was already done." It seemed to me that this could not possibly be true; after all, people with diabetes, heart problems and all manner of life-threatening illnesses are told to change their diets, their lifestyles, to exercise and to pay attention to how their bodies behave, because all these things have been proven to help the body heal. Why would cancer be the exception? Sarah and The Bodhi Tree yoga therapy programmes have proven (to me and many others) that active efforts to improve one's life, no matter what the circumstances, have great benefits. Now, clinical studies on healing are confirming what yoga/meditation practitioners know. Oncology doctors (and other medical professionals) are encouraging patients to attend classes at Bodhi Tree Yoga. Thanks to Sarah and her skills, people are learning to help themselves.
There were 15 of us in the Renew for Breast Cancer yesterday. Together, these women, of all ages and from all walks of life, practised to feel their bodies again, to loosen muscles and to break down scar tissue. We worked on rebuilding neural pathways damaged from surgeries, radiation and medications. We brought our full attention to areas of pain and numbness, a difficult task at the best of times, let alone when we're caught in a cycle of anxiety. We moved slowly, mindfully and, as we moved, we felt the energy in the room shift from the busy-ness of our lives to centred calm. It was good.
I am grateful to be able to participate in these classes, to teach them under Sarah's guidance and skill. I am grateful to these brave women (and men) who face their challenges and fears, strong in the knowledge that every person can help herself, if she can find a path to lead her back to wholeness. I am grateful for my practice.