- The act, process, duration, or an instance of recovering, esp. from illness, a shock, or a setback
- A restoration to a former or better condition.
- The regaining of something lost.
- The act of obtaining usable substances from unusable sources.
We are all recovering from something – a failed marriage, a challenging childhood, a financial setback, a sudden illness or accident. But what does it really mean to recover?
Life sends us surprises and they are not all welcome. I once belonged to a Breast Cancer Support Group where we welcomed newcomers by saying, “Welcome to the club you never wanted to join.” Our level of consciousness and perception of the big picture of life colors the way we respond to an unpleasant crisis and many of us go through stages of grief before we accept our new reality. The process can be a rollercoaster ride of denial, anger, self-pity, depression, negativity and hopelessness. Or not.
What’s behind the differences in how various people experience this journey of breast cancer? Why does it take so long for some to begin to re-engage in more than just cancer? How is it that some people seem to come out of the process with more happiness and joy than when they began?
The severity of one’s diagnosis and prognosis as well as treatment modalities given are real and obvious answers but a key to meaningful recovery is something that is rarely a part of what goes on in the medical realm. It occurs inside and it is within our control. It occurs within our mind and it influences our body – or is the other way around?
Which brings us to yoga.
Like many valuable roads in life, yoga must be experienced. People arrive on the mat in Breast Cancer Yoga to increase the range of motion in their affected arms, regain strength and balance, or find a way to slowly work back up to their favorite activities. Those are good reasons to come to the mat and are reasonable goals for a practice, but bonus benefits await and these unexpected gifts lovingly sneak in unannounced.
- Breathing exercises initiate the relaxation response and you feel calmer.
- The attention required to attend to the many points of alignment in a pose leave no mental space to think of anything else, so you find yourself acutely focused – and not on cancer.
- The posture sequences offered in class draw you to places in your body that you had forgotten and you begin to remember a feeling of strength and connection there.
- The mere act of placing your body in a confident and powerful stance (warrior, anyone?) makes you feel more confident and powerful.
- For a short 90 minutes, you share safe space with others on the same journey, enveloped in the collective positive energy with no need to talk.
- Your final resting pose, Shavisana, is relaxation at its most nourishing. I promise. You will come back for more.
Whatever the outcome of your journey, yoga will help you find peace and joy on the path. What better time to experience it than when your world has been turned upside down.
The mat is unfurled, the props are supportive, the blankets are warm and the candles are lit. Join us. NAMASTE
Marsha Mobley Kilian, RYT, BSW
Breast Cancer Yoga for Living