Question: Do your students talk about their cancers?
Tari Answered: “Absolutely! Again, that sense of community is hugely important to what we do. When I started looking into yoga for cancer survivors, I wondered why yoga teachers never use the big “C” word– the word cancer. Instead, they emphasized, “relax” and “feel peaceful.” Ironically, these pleasant words sent my mind racing into thinking about dying. It was not healing to avoid the reason the class was offered, nor was it spiritual.
I find my students are comforted by the exchange of questions we have when I first meet them as to what kind of cancer they have, how long, what treatments, side effects and how is it going in their recovery. The relief that I am not afraid to acknowledge their illness is a relief akin to spiritual. When the class includes an explanation of how yoga deep breathing will assist in cleansing the immune system, and why that is important to lower the risk of cancer reoccurrence, the response is a smile with each inhale.
At the end of class the glow on each woman’s face is the goal of yoga. Not some kind of nirvana, nor profound enlightenment, or even heightened awareness. But simple contentment in the sheath of Anandmayakosha, the Bliss Factor that yoga offers to aid healing. This is yoga’s gift to them and to me.