Thank you for your focused work in completing Module #1. This is just the start of our learning process together. It is so exciting to see all of you progress through the online training modules. We are carefully monitoring progress and activity.
Spoiler alert! For those who have not yet completed Module #1, we recommend finishing the module and all assignments before reading the below.
We often notice similar challenges, concerns and questions that arise among the group as a whole. For this reason, the feedback below will address these common themes for everyone’s benefit, while also aiming to provide individual support. If your questions are not answered or if you still need support, please send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the ‘Fear of cancer’: There is such power in words, both spoken and written. ‘Cancer’ is one of those words, like ‘yoga’, that is accompanied with many complex meanings, associations and emotions, like fear.
It may seem obvious; Cancer causes fear in everyone. Some fears we hold in common – that of treatments, pain and loss. Articulating fears, even just three of them, is an important exercise of personal reflection. To do so grounds our compassion in fearlessness to face similar concerns with others. The value of such reflection begins a peacemaking with the cause of all fear- the unknown, the impermanence of life.
Stating your personal fears becomes the bench mark for the work you are about to begin. Fear is often based in misinformation and the lack of facts. That is where we start our work – changing fears into facts and knowledge. My hope is that upon the completion of this training, some of your fears may change.
About your teaching concerns: There is much room for error in everything! Cancer treatments are constantly changing, and even doctors cannot predict what side effects will manifest in each patient, nor are they certain of the path a cancer will take. How can a yoga teacher know enough to not cause harm and to provide the healing powers of yoga? Caution is the first step to knowledge. This question was an exercise in refining your curiosity. By all measures this C-word, ‘curiosity’, will cultivate the skills necessary to understand physically and emotionally how to create a safe yoga practice for those who come to you.
Knowing what questions to ask, which yoga asanas to teach, or what words to use is an indication not just of compassion for the ‘other’, but of wisdom. This is the starting point of a good teacher for cancer survivors.
The goals ahead in the next 4 modules are to :
- Understand, through observation, discussion and exploration
- Anticipate what might cause pain
- Be critical about the benefits of a particular pose
- Feel comfortable with medical terms
- Cultivate sensitivity to the words you use and begin using words that offer authentic comfort
I know your concerns about teaching yoga to those touched by cancer will change. Because you are committed to study and question, your confidence will also evolve as a y4c teacher. And the yoga you teach can truly become helpful and meaningful to others.
Why the benefits are important: Increasingly we hear about and see research on the benefits of yoga – not just for cancer patients and survivors, but for everyone. The list could be endless. Over the course of this training we will add to that list of benefits.
The goal of our training is to place science behind each and every benefit – to understand how and why yoga provides these benefits. When scientific reasons are given, the motivation to use the tool of yoga and the potential healing in someone touched by cancer is doubled. The science then becomes a great tool for the teacher. When a yoga teacher can understand and explain what is happening in a yoga pose or for example, how breathing physically strengthens the immune system, then knowledge empowers both the yoga teacher and the survivor. Yoga is as scientific as it is spiritual.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and fears with me in this first assignment. I look forward to watching you progress through the program, and my team and I are here supporting you along the way!