I’m back. It has been a full month since my exploratory surgery and I am just now feeling close to 100%. Thrilled that the findings did fall into the 98% likelihood of NOT cancer, but a third c-section was never in my plans. I thought it would be easier to recover without the infant crying and needing you everyday/moment, but truly not having a reason to keep moving through the pain was more challenging. It was easier to just let the pain and the physical debilitation win.
A couple of weeks ago my husband gave me the verbal equivalent of a kick to the butt and off to the gym I went to get back to living. I was planning on a long slog on the elliptical machine since bouncing of any form was off the list as well as lifting anything over 10 pounds or swimming, but then I saw it. Like a beacon of hope on the classes board when I walked in to the gym – YOGA!!!
Now this is gym yoga, not the hothouse, holistic healing yoga, but it would do.
I eagerly went to class, which conveniently was starting in 10 minutes. And oh that feeling! If you’re a yogi then you already know what I mean. That moment before class starts when you finally collapse into child’s pose. That moment when you “take it to the mat.”
This phrase “take it to the mat” was given to me by one of my past yoga instructors. It seems so aggressive for yoga, but how she meant it has stuck with me ever since. Her recommendation whenever you were confused, hurt, blocked or generally emotional over a situation was to “take it to the mat” and at some point during that practice, your mind and body would work together to find a way to solve it.
My husband’s equivalent is a two-hour bike ride through the country. Another friend it is her daily morning run with her eyes closed. I never found peace through those activities, but I do find it on the mat.
I’m that woman next to you who is cursing under her breath when she falls out of tree or crying when she is deep into her frog stretch. I work through quite a bit in my head and body when I take it to the mat. Some days I cannot stomach the battle and just walk out. Other days I’m left euphoric and know exactly how to overcome whatever I came in with. Yoga has become not only healing, but empowering and essential and I am grateful to my oncologist for making it part of my prescription for health more than four years ago.
I strongly encourage you to find a yoga style that works for you. The act of breathing will help your body cleanse negative energy and the oxygen actually kills off toxic cells. The stretching is cleansing and strengthening. Start easy with a slow flow class if you are new to the sport and maybe look for a class where they don’t heat you up too much. Sports club yoga is a nice place to start with the basic poses and stretching. But I strongly encourage you to build your practice and push to the next level where it becomes a holistic healing experience. Where your sweat smells like what you ate the night before and the pain that stretches out of your joints is as much emotional as it is physical.
And save this info graphic to your phone. I didn’t make this so please don’t give me credit. I saved this off of some Facebook post years ago, but it takes you through all of the movements of a traditional Surya Namaskara of “Sun Salutation.” This is a great stretch to use in the mornings to wake-up your mind and body or I find it very healing after a long run. This is a great way to remember the flow when traveling or away from formal instruction.
Good luck with your continued health and well-being. While part of changing your Sunality is good sun-protection it is also about strengthening your body’s natural defenses to shield and repair the damage that will continue to naturally occur. We can do this through an increased attention to our overall wellness, which includes physical, mental and spiritual health.