Taking a deep breath

backlit beach dawn dusk
Photo by Cedric Lim on Pexels.com

Last year, my eight-year-old son started struggling with his second-grade math. For a few days, I felt as if our kitchen table transformed into a Medieval torture dungeon while doing homework. Who would have thought that the unanswered 3+2 question could trigger so much anxiety?

Once I decided to stop inflicting pain on myself and causing my son’s irreversible psychological damage–imagine his face trying to understand mathematics smothered in a thick Spanish accent–I searched and found a tutoring facility close to home.

After I dropped him off for his first session, I noticed the yoga studio* next door and realized that I too, needed some tutoring. The next Thursday, and almost every Thursday since then, I have been religiously practicing yoga with one simple goal: taking a deep breath from life.

The ancient tradition of yoga is mystical and scientific. However, due to my precarious spiritual enlightenment so far, I prefer to limit my opinion to the scientific part because it is the one I have experimented with. 

A yoga class is a combination of breathing and stretching exercises that decrease blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones, promote drainage of the lymphatic vessels, tone muscles, strengthen joints, and improve balance.

Besides the noticeable changes in my figure, the last benefit is the one I treasure the most. Although I am a work in progress, yoga has helped me balance my emotions and thoughts, thus quieting my racing mind.  

Last week I read a Forbes article about a breakthrough vaccine for breast cancer developed at Mayo Clinic. Although initial trials have been successful, its availability to the public is at least a decade away. 

So I thought, what can cancer patients do to quiet their racing minds in the mean time? I reached out to my dear yoga instructor, Suzanne, and she shared her own experience. 

I had colon cancer/surgery and chemo five years ago. My yoga practice helped me stay present to what was and out of spinning stories of what-ifs. The fear of the unknown is a huge invisible monster of a cancer diagnosis. Anxiety and healing are not best friends”

Suzanne has been teaching for nearly twenty years. She considers yoga a mindful practice that helps patients through treatment–learning to breathe amidst difficult mental and emotional trials. Nonetheless, everyone is in a different place in treatment and recovery, so it is good to have specific guidance, unless yoga was practiced before diagnosis.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is always on my mind. My grandmother is a survivor and I remember, vividly, nursing her after her mastectomy during the Summer of 1991. I was eleven.

Even though she is a woman strong as steel, I saw the struggle in her eyes. I wish she could have practiced yoga to ease the pain in her soul.  

Thank you for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

(*) The studio I attend every week is called Rebel Studio Jax. I invite you to visit their website. Click here and find a class that fits your schedule.

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