Yoga and Healing From Cancer

Happy International Yoga Day.

I wrote a portion of this post a few years ago detailing what Yoga means to me.  It has been an essential part of my healing process: healing and strengthening my body, warding off scar tissue and providing me a quiet and private space to work through all the emotions that come with healing from cancer.  If you’re a yogi then you already know what I mean. There is a 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 was whenever you were confused, hurt, blocked or generally emotional over a situation that you “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 in yoga class 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.

Infographic for Daily Sun Salutations

A traditional Sun Salutation

A traditional Sun Salutation

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.


Author: sunality

I am a mother of two and survivor of a very scary malignant melanoma diagnosis. I was diagnosed in my early thirties. Since that day, I have been working to change my lifestyle and incorporate sun blocking effective products into my daily life to create a new reality of living in the sun... my "sunality." I want to pass along this information to others who are facing the same lifestyle changes and challenges. You can still live a normal life and protect yourself from the deadly effects of the sun.

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