One of the most gratifying aspects of being a yoga teacher is to witness the capacity of yoga to effect positive change in the lives of the people who practice it. Every time I see a student grow in one way or another I grow a little bit too. Yesterday when I read this email I grew a lot!
I don’t know if you remember me or not, but I wanted to let you know how well I am doing and cannot thank you and yoga enough for helping me.
I was that woman that had the bad arm due to cancer and lyphmadema. I am sorry that I cannot get my schedule around yours, but I do my routine everyday without fail.
I have reduced my arm by 2cm in two places and no longer have fluid in my hand. This is a big thing! I can now hold a plank with little effort, touch the floor with the flat of my hand. I do all the warrior positions and have added squats and lots of stretches and breathing excercises. Even my overall body shape is changing…all for the good and I love the way it makes me feel and look.
I have passed my “5” year mark cancer free. My surgeon was amazed at the mobility I have in my right arm.. He said most patients do not recover half of it.
I am now working on the boat pose. Half way there. As I conquer one, I add another.
I hope you can pass this on to any other cancer survivors you might happen to encounter.
Wow! I continue to be amazed by the power of yoga. I started thinking of some of the other people I know who have changed their lives for the better through the power of yoga:
The veteran with PTSD who came to terms with the events of his past, found meaning and joy through living life in the present moment, and went from 330 lbs to 180 lbs in little over a year.
A stressed out man who carried so much tension in his body that he could barely move into the most basic poses. Within 6 months he sleeps through the night, has much lower blood pressure, and significantly more mobility and flexibility.
A young woman quick to find fault finds a measure of inner peace and tolerance for others.
A man with chronic pain who was so uncomfortable he could not sit still for one minute can now meditate peacefully for almost half an hour.
A lady who arrived at each class appearing agitated and nervous now routinely falls asleep during savasana.
It has become clear to me that almost anyone can benefit, in some way, from practicing yoga. Not everyone will experience changes as profound as those cited above, but if you approach your practice with commitment, in time you will notice that life just gets better.
The common thread in all of these stories is that these people found a way to make yoga a part of their regular routine. Some did it by coming to classes, while others found a personal practice at home. This may be the toughest part of the yoga experience. Many of us – me included – often find ourselves drifting away from our regular practice. As it will, life happens and other things seem to be more important. We know we should be practicing, we know it is good for us, but something keeps us from going back.
Maybe when this happens it is useful to remember and draw inspiration from the stories of others. To know that if we view yoga as a gift to ourselves rather than just another obligation we too can experience the power it has to change things for the better.
So, to the woman who wrote me the email: Yes, I remember you! Thank YOU for helping me remember the power of yoga, and why I do it in the first place. When I find that life takes me away from yoga, it’s stories like yours that inspire me to come back.