Yoga for Cancer Workshop with Tari

It was a rainy day in San Francisco–perfect weather for being inside a spacious yoga studio with a wall of windows. I was surrounded by a group of teachers dedicated to helping themselves and others heal. Some of them were cancer survivors in remission. Others were in the thick of treatments. And yet others (like me) either work with those affected by cancer or were somehow inspired to do so.

As people began introducing themselves around the semi-circle, I could feel their words like music that speaks directly to your heart–the kind of music that takes you out of your head and delivers you to life. I knew that I’d probably cry when I did my introduction. (I’ve always excelled at crying in front of others. My emotions diffuse through my skin, and I’m so sensitive to people’s energy, which makes it hard to keep from crying. I was always embarrassed of this as a kid, but I’ve learned to run with it and embrace it as a strength.) I could feel my mom in the yoga studio with me and the stories of those around me were so moving. There was some serious strength present and I felt honored to be a part of it. This manifested as tears.

Tari Prinster, a yogi and a cancer survivor, shared with us some of her wisdom. I learned the science of why certain postures strengthen the immune system and why some should be avoided. She addressed the emotional, mental and physical needs of someone with cancer and how to work with these needs. I started going back through my notes tonight and wish I had done this a day after the workshop, rather than a week. I can barely read my own writing! Tari was wonderful and I hope that I can do a future training with her. Normally her teacher trainings are 45 hours. This was just a 2 day workshop (and I could only attend one day).

I look forward to sharing what I learned with others. I’m going to start with my husband’s aunt who is interested in incorporating yoga into her treatment. From there I hope to offer a class to other people in the community.

Here is a quote from BKS Iyengar that Tari shared with us. I think of it as remembering to keep a ‘beginner’s mind‘ or the curiosity of a child when teaching or with everything, really… To stay awake means, “To not imagine that you already understand and impose your imperfect understanding on those who come to you for help.”

Colleen Gavan