We’ve all heard it; Take care of ourselves first so we can take care of others. Sounds like a plan right? But we also know that many of us do not do this. I am here to tell you, from first hand experienced, how true and important this seemingly so simple, yet unreachable,
In January of 2015 I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It was a huge shock to me, but it shouldn’t have been. Because I was sick.
So so sick. But because I was so busy looking after everyone around me…and I mean everyone – I was a wife, mother, a caregiver for the disabled, and a part time child support worker -
I didn’t really notice. I did it A.L.L, all the time, working 7 days a week for years, never stopping to think about myself. I used to say I was too busy to breathe…little did I know at the time how literal that statement was. When we are stressed , we hold our breath, and the breath, our prana is what gives us life. It is the body’s most vital function and I was ignoring it. I had worked myself sick. I often say that yoga saved my life, but if I look at it deeper, it was cancer that saved my life. Because without that diagnosis, I would not have slowed down.
And it was as awful as you might think.
Doctors visits; tests; more Doctors; more tests. Trips to Vancouver, parking in Vancouver! Radiation, and surgery. A blessing that I did not require chemo. And so much fear it was immobilizing some days.
But I recovered, slowly, because that’s the kind of person I am, I don’t let things stop me for long. I started thinking about exercise, which I hadn’t done for years. I saw a video of a man completely transformed by yoga and thought if he could do it, I could at least give it a try. I found some videos online and started to practice in my home. It was hard. I couldn’t match my breath to the movements, I was rocking some big scars from surgery – oh and an Ileostomy – so it was slow going. But I kept at it. Then on June 21st of the same year I attended Iron Lotus’ Litha Fest; by myself. I had never done yoga publicly, and I didn’t know a soul who was there. It was a beautiful day and I was so inspired by the feeling of community that I signed up on a monthly plan with Laura the next week…and I haven’t looked back. Again, it was not easy. I had the ostomy to content with, was still working the same job that I only took 2 weeks off from after surgery, and my family obligations. But I knew that I needed to do this for myself, for the first time in my life I needed to make ME the priority. And it has transformed my life in so many ways, I am discovering more about me as I go.
January 2016 I had surgery to reverse the ostomy, and after 3 months of healing, I got into a deeper yoga practice. Again, it was hard. My digestive system was learning what to do again, so my body was going through a lot of big changes. The yoga helped speed this along and my Doctors are amazed at how well I am doing, so well that when we talk I don’t think they believe me. I will spare you the details, but the expectation is that I should always be within 30 minutes of a washroom. Always one to accept a challenge, I chose to go on a road trip by myself to Calgary to see my favourite band play for the last time. It was a long trip, but one that I learned so much about gratitude. Gratitude for our beautiful country, for my family and friends who made it possible for me to go, and grateful to myself for being brave enough to go on this amazing adventure. This was the first trip I had taken anywhere in over 20 years. And I had my yoga practice to thank. That was the beginning of a new life for me. Since then I have traveled to LA to see a once in a lifetime concert, and attended a life changing yoga retreat in Costa Rica.
These all are things I never thought I would ever do. If you had told me 2 years ago I would have a daily yoga practice and would be travelling the world doing it, I would have laughed in your face. It was not me, because I would never have given myself permission to do something so outrageous for myself-I was not worthy. I think that is something so many women can relate to. I know I am not unique in this feeling.
So what changed me? Yoga. Yoga has opened my heart to the world. It has shown me how strong I truly am, how vulnerable I can be, and how precious life is. I am a truer more loving version of myself. I am in love with the world and my life. And please know that this is possible for you. Whatever your situation, needs or obstacles, you can do have this too. We are committed to working with you to make this your reality as well. Just take the first step, come in and see us, call me, or reach out online.
Kula is the Sanskrit word for Tribe; family;
a community of the heart. This is what we at Kula strive for and want you to be a part of.
Join the tribe!