I found yoga because of cancer. As I wrote in my very 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 was 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,
Originally published on WhereWeGoNow
Copyright 123RF Photos and WhereWeGoNow, LLC
Debbie is the founder of WhereWeGoNow, author of You Can Thrive After Treatment and How to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment, a Huffington Post and Cure Magazine blogger, and a Contributor to Positively Positive. She is an inspirational speaker bringing hope to cancer survivors and the patient experience to medical professionals. Debbie gives back by working with the Cancer Hope Network, The Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, and the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center Oncology Community Advisory Board at Overlook Medical Center, Summit, NJ. Debbie is a wife, mother, and a former very stressed out attorney. To learn more, join her at WhereWeGoNow and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.