I’d like to tell you about my friend Cami. She has been a yoga student for many years. She was a well-loved school teacher, who retired during the time that we were doing yoga together. She is graceful and joyful, kind to the people around her and has a positive attitude, with a ready smile. Cami is also a musician and a grandmother, with a very full life. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, it was a shocking blow to her many friends, colleagues and family members. As her yoga teacher, I was curious about how she’d proceed; wondering if it would slow her down, if she’d withdraw into herself to heal, and if she would keep up with her yoga practice.
To my surprise, she continued doing yoga and came to class as often as she could.
She lost her hair and I could tell when she was feeling bad. She enjoyed the slower classes and restorative sessions very much, which was new for her. We talked often, but I respected her need for privacy and didn’t press her with too many questions. I found great respect for her dignity, especially on her difficult days.
We got together to talk when she had completed chemotherapy and I asked if yoga had helped her. Cami said that it kept her in the moment when her mind would whisk her away with worry. She said yoga helped her emotionally by giving her a sense of having some control over her life. For such a positive person, she felt that yoga helped her feel more courageous, gave her a sense of pride, confidence, and the ability to become focused and centered. Most of all, yoga gave her a respite from worry.
On the physical side, Cami knew that she was keeping up her strength and flexibility, helping her digestion and circulation, and that it moved the chemicals through her body. She loved knowing that her lymphatic and immune systems were being stimulated through the continuous movements, breathing, and relaxation.
Cami’s mantra was “Into, through and beyond.” Now that she’s far beyond her cancer experience, Cami has continued to keep yoga as an integral part of her life. She’s a quiet inspiration, strong and dignified. She’s able now to reach out to others who have the long road of cancer treatment ahead of them. I honor her wisdom and courage.
by Susan Whitaker