Like two racecars colliding, my life prior to my cancer diagnosis and my life post radical hysterectomy explosively barreled into one another, engulfing me in flames. Emotionally decimated by this crash, I tried to make sense of an equation that failed to add up.
How could I go back to being who I was before this diagnosis and who had I become as a result? This is a question that took many years to unravel.
It was my sophomore year of college. Typically a good student, I normally found solace in my reading and writing. Now I struggled to read or write at all. I felt alienated from my peer group and suffered from extreme anxiety. Even though I tried to maintain a positive attitude, feeling grateful that my treatment eliminated any malignant growth, my confidence collapsed like a sand castle built too close to the incoming tides.
I felt fragmented and unable to communicate what I was going through. I wanted my energy, focus, concentration and sense of self back. I took a leave of absence from my classes to take care of my health and rebuild my stamina. During my time off, I began reading books on yoga and practicing asana by myself at home. Soon after, I found my body on a rented, well-worn, black sticky mat in a tiny studio in Pacific Beach, San Diego for the very first time in a class called Savroopa yoga. It focused on creating alignment in the spine as an entryway to bliss. We used chairs, blankets and other props, too. I found bliss indeed.
At the time, I was supporting myself by waitressing so attending yoga class was a total financial splurge. Despite the cost though, I consistently made it a priority to attend class. I am so glad I did.
Through my practice, I slowly yet steadily developed a connection with my breath that granted me access to a deeper experience of both my body and my spirit, which were previously inaccessible. Learning how to move my body with my breath liberated me from the restriction of incomplete, shallow inhalations, and an inability to witness my body in motion. I began to learn how to live in movement and flow with change.
My yoga asana practice midwifed my relationship with my body after cancer. I met the new me on my mat, and it’s been a relationship of true love ever since. Gradually yoga became a regular part of my life, a non-negotiable. It rescued the girl set ablaze in the aftermath of cancer.
Connecting with our breath re-centers us in the moment. The point of power is always in the now. Our success is so dependent on how present we are and how much we authentically show up.
If you want to create more success in your life, create more presence.
So, tell me: what keeps you from showing up fully in the moment?
In an effort to challenge myself physically and spice up my commitment to my 14-year-practice (sometimes I have to get clever to keep it novel), I am committing myself to 21 consecutive days of a vigorous vinyasa practice. I plan to indulge as often as possible at my favorite yoga studio, Jivamukti, when I am in NYC, and on my own when I physically can’t make it to class due to my aggressive plan to get to the beach.
Care to join me?
I encourage you to find a reasonable stretch goal you can introduce into your life for the next 21 days. Become more present and develop your own mind-body relationship. You will increase your connection to your breath, bring more mindfulness into your life, and come home to your physical being.
Remember: how conscious you are from day to day is inextricably linked to your progress in life.
I look forward to keeping you updated regarding my 21-day vigorous vinyasa challenge, and I hope to hear all about your personal journey as well.
In the meanwhile, I send you all of my love!