This is a special blog post because my friend, Anita is sharing her thoughts on the relationship of health and yoga through her own experience. It hasn't been an easy ride but she is doing an amazing job in beating cancer with the help of yoga - among many other things. Enjoy reading this post and visit her blog as well. (Prepare yourself to see some amazing recipes on her page.)
Hello, everyone! My name is Anita. I am turning 33 this year. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with angiosarcoma. It is such a rare type of cancer, that most of the doctors would not have too much idea about this disease. Thanks to God, I’m still alive because I had an amazing medical team supporting me. However, I had to realise that I needed to change the way I was living.
Many of you will know that you are what you eat and I heard this sentence and due to my illness, I changed my diet several times in the last 2,5 years. The main thing however that helped me a lot during this time was doing yoga on a regular basis.
I would like to tell you more about my background before I head into how yoga has affected my health and how I live my life now. I was always a straight-A student, a girl who tried to meet all expectations. I tried to do my best at work, at home, in the gym, helping everyone in need (friends, family, strangers) and I also started my own network marketing business. I wasn’t in a relationship that time. I was overloaded and exhausted but most of all I felt disappointed because I divided my energy between too many things and none of them was giving me the results I was expecting. My self-esteem hit rock bottom. I was not focusing on what I wanted but everything else. I had too much of everything: stress, work, you name it. This is when I found a lump in my right breast. After the removal of the lump came the nightmare. The doctors diagnosed me with angiosarcoma and told me my right breast had to be removed completely because the edge of the removed tissue contained cancerous cells. There I was, in my early 30s, with only one breast. This was the moment when I decided to quit sugar for the first time, because I thought changing diet is all I can do. I got myself together and after my half-year check-up I was told everything was ok, the doctors didn’t find any cancerous cells. I was glad I could get back to 'real life'. I started to work, went back to the gym and even added back sugar in my diet. I slowed down a bit and slightly changed my perspective on life but as it turned out not as much as I should have.
The following year started with a regular check-up. It showed that I had something on my lungs. I spent one week at the hospital and the doctors removed a part of my lung (5x5 cm approx. 2x2 inch). This was the point when I told myself I had to drastically change the way I lived my life. I had to learn again how to breathe and move at the same time. After the surgery, I was not able to walk to the next block without breathing difficulties. Normal people would not believe that it is such a big deal because their body does it with no effort but I had to learn it again. Plus I quit sugar again.
By that time I had been thinking of doing a yoga class for nearly 2 years because I wanted to become a yoga instructor. I started practicing yoga when I was in Spain with Erasmus, back in 2007. I loved the sports angle of it, that it moves and stretches my body at the same time but I did not want to hear anything about mantras or breathing. Once I moved back home and finished university, I joined a gym that ran really good morning yoga classes. I enjoyed that there was not too much talk on the spiritual background and it was focusing more on the physical aspects of yoga. After changing my workplace, I moved to Malaysia. There I started to train for the marathon (that could be another story) and I thought yoga would add a nice balance to my training routine. I started to practice at home by watching online videos. Even my colleagues asked me to hold yoga classes for them! After moving back to Hungary, I stopped practicing yoga until after my lung surgery. This was when I decided to do the yoga instructor course. At my first class our teacher thought she needed to call the ambulance, as I was hardly able to catch my breath. The type I started to practice and now I teach was vinyasa flow, where the rhythm of your breath dictates the pace of your moves. One breath equals one move at a time. It was the same rhythm I learned after the operation, so it was natural for me. After starting the class I knew I had to develop my strength. Neither was I strong enough physically (now I know not even mentally) nor was I flexible. My homework was to do sun salutations each and every day, which gave me strength and flexibility very quickly.
I previously mentioned how I hated the mantras at the beginning of my yoga journey. Interestingly, during our first class, we have chanted the Om mantra and the resonance it made in my lungs was a real awakening. It encouraged me to try them more often. As time went by, I experienced the followings: the more I did the asanas (taking the poses), chanted the mantras (only Om at the beginning) and practiced pranayama (breathing technique) the more emotional blocks I realised in my body. After our yoga camp that summer, my CT showed a lump on my ovary. When I went to see the doctor to discuss what is going to happen, I felt sick and fainted. On that very same day, I had a surgery to find out why I was experiencing awful abdominal pain. When the doctors performed the surgery, they had to face their biggest nightmare: the lump on my ovary started to bleed and my life was depending on minutes. But here I am, I survived. After the surgery, I was not able to practice yoga as a sport, which is the Western way to think about it. I took the advice of my teacher and I started to practice pranayama and the mantras. I never cried as much in my whole life as I did during that time. Chanting the mantras and practicing the breathing techniques just purified the emotional blocks in my body.
Are you wondering how am I doing these days? How did yoga make an impact on my life? Based on my own experience, practicing yoga in the traditional way has saved my life. It is not the easy way to deal with all the issues I have collected and carried throughout my life, but it worth it.
I could practice more than I do right now but I’m at a point where I feel I have found the balance in my life. I believe everything is about balance. The main thing cancer taught me is to focus on myself and the signs of my body, while as a certificated yoga instructor show the world of yoga to everyone who is opened to it. In that sense, I am really glad Viki has asked me to write this testimonial because it might open up someone’s eyes and they will try to practice yoga on a regular basis.
Lastly, I have a couple of advice about yoga. Although all the yoga teachers are aiming for the same as I do, please be aware that everyone teaches in a different manner and a different style. You might try a type of yoga that does not agree with you. Be patient to find the type of yoga and the kind of teacher who can lead you on your path. In my point of view, yoga is not only about flexibility but more about finding out who you really are. Don't go with the trends such as hot yoga (you can get injured quite easily) or even worse: beer yoga (alcohol is not something a yogi would use). Do what is best for you and find your own path.
If you need further information or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. If you would like to read more about this issue or the diet I follow or the food I am making/eating please visit my page, or follow me on insta or facebook.