Monday, January 28, 2013

Body Mine

I exhale slowly, stretching my arms and head forward, as an instructor gently presses down on my lower back.

"Nice," she whispers.

One more deep breath, and she presses my torso lower.  I feel a slight resistance - a brief unwillingness - behind my knees, but as I exhale the tension releases and she presses me lower. 

"Navel to your back, engage your core, keep breathing, listen to your body," says the head yoga instructor. Her voice is like smooth honey, loving but firm, encouraging and compassionate.

Slowly, with a final whisper of encouragement - good - she removes her hands from my back.  Incredibly, my body stays in this position on its own.  I am folded in half, legs out in front of me, my face resting on my knees, hands wrapped around the soles of my feet.

It feels heavenly.


I'm at a yoga workshop, a two hour instructional class where several instructors tend to a handful of students.  They tiptoe around the room, adjust poses, whisper encouragement, give massages to quivering muscles.

Finally, I find myself irrevocably drawn to something good for me:  yoga.  I'm still very much a novice, and I attended this class with a friend because I wanted the corrections, the instruction, so I didn't develop bad habits early.

I didn't expect it to be so comforting, though, a combination of pleasant aching and release of tension.  All yoga classes are like that, but with the individual attention, the massages, and the comforting touches this class takes it to a whole new level.


"Keep listening to your body," she repeats.  "Find that spot just at the edge of comfort, but no further, and breathe into the pose".

My mind drifts inward, taking silent stock of how my body feels.  I feel my heart beat steadily against my upper thighs, my breath hot on my knees as I exhale and stretch down further.  Every cell is humming with life and I feel connected, whole, present.

A while later, during Shavasana, I lie still, my body a dead weight sinking into the floor.  I focus on my breath and feel life rushing in and out of my lungs, through my veins.

I listen to my body, grateful for its sturdy health.  A year ago at this time I was heading into the worst of my cancer treatment.  Radiation had scorched my neck - inside and out - the skin cracked and bleeding.   Chemotherapy left me depleted, weary, sick.  I lay in my bed and fought to stay in the moment. 

A healthy body seemed a long, long way away.

My muscles throb gratefully, and I'm amazed at what they can do.  She says to listen to my body, but for the moment I talk to it, send it a little prayer:  thank you

My mind quiets, and I am at peace.


  1. So happy for you. There is no peace like the peace that yoga brings, Ellie and I am so very very glad that you have found that sanctuary in your body and in your mind and heart. Thank you, goddesses of the light that yoga brings to our lives, with all my being, I thank you.

  2. I get this. This morning while I was doing the exercises to regain my range of motion I found myself a little amazed that it's really coming back. Not able to return to yoga yet but that day is coming and I'm glad.

  3. "my mind quiets and I am at peace"

    Good for you, and thanks... I felt some release and peace just reading this post!

  4. Oh, beautiful. How much a year can bring, no? xoxo

  5. not sure why i pressed return so soon... every time I think, "I should do this regularly." I love where you wrote you are taking that workshop so as a beginner you don't develop bad habits early. great advice,actually

    1. So glad you are finding ease in your body again! Two years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. After a year of chemo, radiation and major surgery, I am still trying to find that ease. But, I have to say, throughout the entire experience, I praised my body constantly. It worked against impossible odds to keep me alive and functioning. Even within this unease, I am most grateful for all my body does for me!

  6. Yoga and Meditation are perfect exercises it is good for your body and mind. it helps to circulate your blood and give perfect benefits to your lungs and heart.

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