Therapeutic Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 2

Yoga for Healing

15 min - Conversation


Cheri has a conversation with Jodi and Francine, who are in various stages of diagnosis and treatment, about their journey through cancer. Together they discuss how to work with common emotions that arise in the body, like anger and sadness, and how yoga has been instrumental on their path of acceptance, healing, and wholeness.
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Oct 15, 2015
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(rolling waves) Namaste and welcome. I'm so glad to have these two beautiful women with me today. This is Jodie and this is Francine and we're here to have a discussion really about healing and yoga and how they so beautifully imbibe and connect and support us in our journey when we're going through physical challenges. So, I wanted to start with you, Jodie and just have you share a little bit about what you've been through perhaps if you're comfortable to share, anything you want to share, your diagnosis and where you are to now in your journey. Okay. Well, I am 43 and was diagnosed with breast cancer just before my 43rd birthday which was on March 8th.

And actually my breast cancer is a very aggressive form, I'm HER2-positive and I'm, they call the biomarkers triple positive, so I'm estrogen and progesterone positive which means that it's quite aggressive and it was somewhat advanced but I've been really fortunate to have wonderful here in Santa Barbara and I have a program where I've started with neoadjuvant chemotherapy which means I go through chemotherapy first, which is why I have this nice hairstyle and I have six sessions, my last session is next week for chemotherapy and I'll then go in for surgery and the good news is that my chemotherapy has actually been quite effective and so it looks as though my tumors, because I did have two tumors as well as cancer in my lymph node, but it looks at this point as though most of that's disappeared if not all of it has disappeared. So I will still go for surgery to make sure that the cancer is really gone and I will then go through radiation for six and a half weeks and so that's been sort of my diagnosis and what I've been dealing with healthwise and the yoga program, which we have at the Santa Barbara Cancer Center, which of course is how I met you, has been a really wonderful, supportive environment as a way to help me through all of these different stages of treatment. It's been so wonderful having you in the classes and watching how tender you are with your body, how sensitive you are and I know you have to be when you're going through such an intensive journey. Did you find that the yoga classes, the therapeutic yoga, helped with some of your symptoms? What did you notice?

I think it did. I mean I think you deal with a lot psychologically when you're diagnosed with breast cancer and especially initially you have thousands of things, or I did, going through my mind about how did this happen, what can I do to really give myself the best chance of making a full recovery, and so I think for me, going to the restorative yoga classes was a time where I knew a had this space to really be with myself, to be focused on my body, to have quiet time, and to let myself be open to all of the wonderful supportive energy in the room at the classes. And so I think it's played a really important role for me not just psychologically, but also physically and I think having time to really focus on my body and, as you sometimes say, to really send healing energy to different areas of the body during those classes and to come away from the class feeling stronger physically as well as psychologically I think's been really important for me. Wonderful. Well, I've also enjoyed watching the camaraderie and the fun that we can have.

Everyone is so supportive of each other and there's such a loving energy and people also are right there to help if you need it, if you're not feeling well or certain days are better than other days and it's always such a great place to come to really be nourished and to find friends that are also going through something very similar. So, well, it's been wonderful having you there. And, Francine. Francine and I were, I was teaching a workshop on Sunday, in Santa Barbara, and she joined for the workshop and I came to find out about her new journey with cancer. And would you like to share about that?

Yes. I was diagnosed three weeks ago exactly and I went to a restorative class because I thought it would be a good thing to do, I was almost not getting in, but I got in, and I was in a not good space when I came in, but I was so much better when I came out. When I do yoga for a long time and I do restorative, I teach restorative yoga, but I realize how important it is for me to just keep focusing on my breathing, focusing on my good spirit in order to face what I'm facing. I am angry. I just recovered from three years of limping and not walking well and I am finally perfect, almost. Tell us about the surgery that you had on your leg and Well I broke my leg when I was 22 and over the years my ankle started acting up and for maybe 20 years I have pain in my foot.

And I twist my foot a few years ago. I had to wait until I was old enough to be able to afford surgery, so I'm 66 now but last year I had two pins put in my foot to rebuild your cartilage and it took forever, but I am so well, I am excited about life again and I am a sculpture so I need a lot of physical so I am back to work and then this happened so restorative yoga is definitely my salvation at this point and a lot of yoga also. And yoga helped me so much, balance my body, that I don't have hip problem or shoulder problem. Cause limping for so long does something to the rest of your body. So I am thankful for yoga and restorative even more.

One of the things that I feel and in part because I too am a cancer survivor and I've also just being in the body, I say this to people. If you live long enough, we get sick, and we go through getting injured and eventually we'll shed the body and that's natural, we're meant to shed it, we're not meant to live forever. And part of that is the letting go process as things change and shift, but, to have practices like yoga that are so nourishing through all that life brings through the times when we feel angry because we've been, feel like you just heal from something and now you have another something to heal from. That's natural to feel the emotions arise and the challenges around what life can bring at certain times but to have this kind of practice where you can go inside and meet what's there and breathe through it all and keep working with the stress that arises and the body in different stages of healing goes through so much, so, during the time of surgery, it's going to need something else and they found that it's wonderful to visualize everything going really well in your surgery, picturing everything going perfectly and your body doing well and your organs doing well. They've found that it actually lessens the pain, it shortens the amount of time it takes to heal after surgery, so these are things that comes from yoga, from this ancient tradition, this idea of working much more intricately with our bodies and supporting them with all that comes so it's so wonderful for you both to come and share and talk about your experiences.

Now you're heading in for a surgery next week. Yeah, on Tuesday. On Tuesday. And how are you feeling? I have been pretty good most of the time. I have my moments for sure.

I get very negative and sarcastic and joking and angry. I go through it all, but I've been doing well I think. As best as I can, I try to be gracious about it But, it's not easy. I'll tell you. You know, it's interesting that you're talking about some of the emotional states and you did as well.

That's a natural part of being thrust into this experience and I know when I was diagnosed I was in my twenties and was rushed in for surgery and then almost five years later I had a recurrence and my doctor at the time, he said, "you're sitting on a lot of anger, you're really angry" and me, I was trying to be so spiritual and positive and have this really great, I felt that being angry was negative was not healthy and I was trying to be healthy and he said, "you really need to clear that anger because it's actually keeping the energy from flowing in your body". So what he said was, when you feel tired which I was sleeping a lot, I was tired all the time, he said, when you feel tired like that, he said it's probably cause you've pushed some emotion down. He said, so take a towel or something and just start wringing it and just say, "I'm angry" and see if anything comes up. Next thing you know I'm beating pillows and screaming and having this really intense experience but then it took me into this deep sadness and a deeper wound and deeper healing that I really ultimately felt the journey of my cancer was calling me to do some deeper healing work and so the yoga, every time I stepped onto my mat and I went inside and I met those places that were angry, sad, and I let that emotion move, of course I know personally I'm very schematic not everybody's really schematic, but I find that if I can let my emotional states move and not hold them, stuff them, judge them, get into my head, well this shouldn't be here, if it's here, it's here, I started to really heal. It's interesting that I felt I did so well with my foot.

I was so patient and so good and I really felt very proud of that because I'm not patient, I'm just get going and so it's interesting that maybe I was too, I kept it on too much and now I am thinking this way. Well, this is a fine line that we walk when we're working with our emotional state because you can't blame yourself for what's happening in your body but you can do those things that create a greater space for health to happen and one is letting your energy move, emotion move, breathing, stress reduction. And I think it's really key that we don't say, well maybe if I had just done this. There's a lot of reasons that we get cancer. It can be genetic, environmental.

But there are many ways to support the healing of it no matter how it comes to us and why. The why almost doesn't matter. If it's there, you just do the best that you can and that's one thing I love about yoga is yoga supports medicine, whatever treatment you're choosing, yoga supports in ways that the medicine can't and one of our oncologists at the Cancer Center so sweetly said to me one time, it was a patient who had a metastases into her bone into her sacrum and I was having her breathe into her sacrum and just staying present with her and a lot of emotion came up and she went and told her oncologist about it and he came to me and said, you know, that's something I can't do, so how wonderful that in the yoga That's good when they're open to it. Yeah she can gave that and have that physical touch. How was the touch for you in classes?

Did you like that aspect? The healing touch. Actually, it was very therapeutic and even though I think you would come around maybe in the class a few times, every time it just sort of felt like this wonderful positive energy and sort of a bit of hopefulness and looking ahead and feeling strong. So I think that the light healing touch is a really wonderful complement to the yoga itself. And you can also bring that healing touch to yourself which is so nice, you can do self massage or some of the things we've been doing today, massaging across the third eye or rocking the knees from side to side will create also some self massage so that's also really a wonderful thing to do.

Well, you both are so courageous and beautiful and it's wonderful for you to be here and to share yourself with everyone and we all hold the heartfelt blessing for your deepest healing and we thank you for being here today. Namaste.


2 people like this.
Cheri thank you for holding the space for healing on all levels for these women and for the rest of us. My husband and I were talking about being in your classes years ago and how your entry into the room and your light touch was this lovely permission to heal and relax. Thank you.
Thank you Kit, your note really touched my heart. I know you too are touching others with your teachings. Sending my love and warm hugs.
2 people like this.
This is so wonderful to hear your voice and to be able to see you Cheri. Thank you to your special guests and to Francine for speaking about all her emotions. I have survived cancer since 2000. Hearing you speak about your anger, let's me know that I have more clearing to do even now. And at the same time, I am so grateful for these videos so that I can see and hear you, and I am inspired to continue to do my healing yoga. Namaste
Hi Esther, Thank you for your comment, I'm so glad to hear from you! As you know cancer is a process and even some times long after treatment there may be emotions calling for compassionate exploration. I was so grateful for Francine's honesty regarding her process in this video conversation. I love knowing that you are with me on the mat! Sending my love xoxo

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