It was four years ago this month when I put the very first Yoga and Cancer (formerly called Yoga for Women with Cancer) on the schedule at Prasada Yoga Center. I remember just how nervous I was since it had taken me about six months to do the research and design a class I thought would be supportive for women affected by cancer. I remember feeling self-doubt but also fiercely committed to my idea to create a class that would be effective and address specifically the challenges they faced in their body/mind/heart. I think 7 women showed up for that very first class and then they showed up again the following week for more. Shortly they were asking for a second weekly class. That's when I knew I was onto something. The yoga was making them feel good and it was making a difference. Thanks to a private donor and the formation of SATYA - Seacoast Area Teachers of Yoga in Action, we now have seven Yoga and Cancer classes in six locations that support women, men, caregivers, and bereaved. As a yoga teacher, this work has been most rewarding to me. Why?? Because every week I personally see my students benefit from the practice of yoga in a community that is so supportive of each other. Each student arrives to class with their own cancer story but practicing together fosters a deep understanding of all the challenges and pain brought into the space. This is so powerful and yet beautiful. What amazes me most is that despite obstacles and challenges they feel in their bodies, they trust to open their hearts and minds to explore all possibilities of healing. They trust me and they are learning to trust their own inner voice. They embrace all of what they bring to class even when it seems impossible. This is what I see every week... Resolve, trust, self-love, community and healing.
Here's to the next four years of continued growth in the program so that more patients and survivors of cancer can have access to the therapeutic and healing benefits of yoga practiced in community. I am certain that tremendous healing takes place in these classes and like my students I feel resolved to continue this work.