I found yoga because of cancer.
As I wrote in my first blog post, I operated my pre-cancer life under the assumption that the answer to every question was “No.” As such, it took me a lot to get to “Yes” and venture out. Plus, I’ve done my share of aerobic classes in which I felt spastic and completely lost. Who wanted to submit to that again?
Of course, my two cancer surgeries took a major toll on my body. I guess I was desperate to do something to improve my body image. Three months after my second surgery, we joined the local Y and I started using the weight room, something I had never done before in my life. I was committed and went regularly, but I could feel my interest waning fast. So, I tried a Pilates class.
The class was crowded and I was lying on my mat in the middle of the floor. I was doing okay until the instructor told us to lie on our backs and raise our feet off the ground. My feet wouldn’t budge. Not an inch, not a half inch. Not to make excuses, but I had a TRAM flap procedure as part of my reconstructive surgery. I was down to one transverse rectus abdominis muscle where there used to be two. Plus, I was totally out of shape.
Of course, that’s the intellectual response. I actually responded with shame and total abject grief. I was shocked to find yet another cancer loss – the ability to do something so seemingly simple. I wanted to run out of the room weeping, but I would have trampled other women who could lift their feet off the floor.
So much for Pilates. I know it works for others, but it just wasn’t for me. I thought about doing yoga some time ago, but of course didn’t follow up. I found a class called “Stress Management Yoga,” which I felt safe walking into as a total beginner. Before the class started the teacher welcomed me, letting me know that yoga was noncompetitive and that wherever I was in my abilities was exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment. I followed along as best I could and it was love at first down dog.
It’s been a year and I now do yoga every day, Monday through Friday. Just the other day, out of nowhere it seemed, I attempted the boat pose and my feet miraculously went straight up in the air. I had tried it before and couldn’t do it, so I was stunned. I’ve come a long way from that Pilates class and yoga has helped bring me here. It’s been good for my body and my spirit.
Yoga reminds me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be today, and, so it seems, are my feet.
Survival > Existence,
Image courtesy of Rob Bertholf