Breathing Space – July

I was checking a list I’ve put together of how yoga can benefit people with cancer. There are over 20 things on my list, and the one item that jumped out at me today was, “Yoga practice helps people to be strong enough to go through the cancer journey.” I began thinking about the tremendous strength it would take: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and in every other way. Each aspect would require that you first recognize what you need, accept it, explore it, and then move in the direction of asking for help and support in that area. That sounds like such a huge ordeal! There is also the need to be vulnerable and feel okay about that. I consider vulnerability to be a great strength in disguise, because it goes against our cultural programming to be independent and do everything ourselves. Inviting vulnerability can open the door to more inner spaciousness and less tension about what’s really going on.

Fortunately, yoga practice addresses all parts of a person and only requires that you begin where you are. When someone is going through chemo and/or radiation, or having a bad day, we work on the foundation: lower back, legs, breath, and presence.

If you’re feeling disconnected from where you are, we move in a fluid way and connect to the breath. If you’re starting to feel better and want more physical strength, we work with more standing postures. If your heart is tight and your upper back feels bound up, we work on flexibility and shoulder movement, as well as….breath! There are many ways to open up to yoga and they all work together to create wholeness.

Each time you return to some kind of strength, it’s a victory and can bring a sense of relief to your day, even for just a little while. It can feel like storm clouds are clearing and the sun is peeking out at you. So, I honor your strength in facing each day. May you ask for help when you need it and may your receive the support you ask for.

Susan Whitaker About Susan Whitaker

Susan is the owner of Canyon Spirit Yoga Center in Auburn, Ca. and primary yoga instructor at Wellness Within. She has Yoga teaching certifications from Kripalu Center and Integrative Yoga Therapy. Susan continues to teach and study in the areas of yoga therapy, creating individual practices, and yoga as a healing art.

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