Yoga Within – October

By Susan Whitaker

There is always help when you need it: it’s knowing who to ask and how to ask that’s tricky. At the Healing Journeys conference in September, the audience was filled with open-hearted people who were willing to help others and themselves. From the moment I walked in and was greeted with wide-open welcome, I started paying delighted attention to this extraordinary gathering of people. Many of the attendees were recovering from cancer treatment, some were caretakers, some were in the middle of their diagnosis, and most were women. It didn’t matter who you were, because there was an unmistakable feeling of “we’re all in this together.” There was lots of humor and a willingness to befriend one another. I asked two separate women what brought them there, and both said, “I don’t know! I was just called!” I had mixed feelings of joy and sadness, knowing that this group was vibrating in a life-affirming way because they had cancer. It felt like their priorities were crystal clear and purposeful, and that it was high time to live and thrive. The barriers to full expression were down!

I have only felt this once before at a Yoga conference in October of 2001, after 9/11. As a people, we were sad and hurt and afraid, but being together, doing yoga, singing, and talking went a long way toward healing us all. We felt that we were in it together as yogis and Americans.

That’s how I feel about Wellness Within. Under Patti Brown’s guidance and vision, we are all dedicated to sinking deep below the surface and finding meaning in the experience of cancer. From a yoga standpoint, it illustrates the oneness that is the definition of yoga. Yoga literally means “to yoke”; to bring together our opposite characteristics: sun and moon, fear and confidence, extraversion and intraversion, effort and relaxation, suffering and transcendence. Wellness Within is here to help you do this in so many ways. For example, did you know that a yoga class can help you sleep better? The spinal twisting movements can help detox the body through squeezing and soaking the organs. The deep breathing and gentle movements can help you with managing stress.  The more vigorous poses can help lift your energy and help you regain strength. Practicing with friends can help you feel less alone.

I leaned that a recent meta-analysis study found that regular exercise reduces the risk of colon and breast cancer by 41% to 61%. It was recommended that we move with exuberance, but I’m sure that a few child poses would qualify, if done with concentrated breathing! I also learned that the science of Epigenetics is finding that we can influence our genes through eating and lifestyle modification. Cancer treatment and awareness are evolving to include music, laughter, movement, being in Nature, rest, relaxation, and talking with friends and family as ways to bring improvement to our lives. You can feel healthier, hopeful, and more supported when you’re receiving treatment, and continually after. There are books such as Five to Thrive: Your Cutting Edge Cancer Prevention Plan to guide us into this new way of thinking.

We are all in this together!

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