by Jennifer Acee Robinson – October 2010
The cedar and glass yoga house sits above a ravine. Views of rolling brown hills covered in Eucalyptus trees and California shrubbery fill the vast windowpanes. Almost all twenty of us ladies here on retreat are sprawled out across the floor, enjoying the view and the calm as we engage in healing, restorative yoga. All of us have or have had cancer and have come for a peaceful three days of learning, communion, restoration and, if we’re very lucky, maybe even a little healing.
We have different types and stages of cancer. We come from different socioeconomic groups, races, and ages.
I am a 29 year old who was recently diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. I am in the midst of my fourth round of chemotherapy and am looking ahead to a bilateral mastectomy waiting on the horizon. I have very little energy or optimism – and have even less hair (i.e. none).
I have stepped away from my husband, two-year old son, and life that has suddenly become overrun by unpleasant medical appointments, tests and procedures, to come away to this haven.
We’re on the floor this morning, calming our breathing and quieting our minds.
…Maybe quieting them a little too much; a snore from the back of the room starts to resonate with a growing volume. Someone in the back has fallen asleep on her mat. Giggles follow the snore, sweeping across the waxed floor and our pink yoga mats in a wave of cheery interruption.
We let her sleep.
Our precious Yogi Master Tari simply raises her voice, so her words of guidance and meditation are not lost in the snores.
Many of us come to this place ailing and broken. We retreat here together for lectures and instruction, for quiet and calm, for camaraderie amongst fellow fighters – and to practice yoga together.
There is powerful rehabilitative potential in the moves and breaths we take together. There is beautiful therapeutic potential in this sisterhood of support.
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