Ready for more mindfulness in your cancer recovery?

Guess what?! I have some exciting news to share. I am now a certified facilitator for the Mindfulness Based Cancer Recovery program! Remember how much I love the book on MBCR? Here is a link to my old book report on the topic: You know I have been a big fan of this book and this methodology for years. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that the authors were offering this training course to healthcare professionals who want to lead and share the program. I knew I had to do it!

This program is truly a gold mine of simple strategies to train our bodies and minds to operate from a place of mindfulness, so that we can navigate this crazy cancer experience with more clarity, peace, and ease. And when we operate from this place, we suffer less and find more joy in each day, regardless of what challenges we might be dealing with.

If that sounds good to you, check out this video introduction. I’m going to be spending the next few months working on putting together a series of videos to train you in each step of the program. So let me know if you’d like to be on the list to hear first when that is up and available!


Where will you choose to focus your energy today to help you feel your best in cancer recovery?

Don’t you love the new-ish ability of our cell phone cameras to shift their point of focus through the picture? So you can decide which part of the image you want to be in focus, and which part will be sortof out of focus? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could learn to do the same?! To consciously shift our focus. To choose where we want to place our awareness, to be able to direct our attention at will. This would allow us to shift our focus off of things that we deem less than ideal, less helpful for our well-being; things like fear, anger, regrets about the past or worries about the future? And we could then consciously shift our awareness instead onto things that are better for us, that help us be present, joyful, grateful, connected? Things like gratitude practice, compassion (for self and others), time with loved ones, slowing down to appreciate the beauty around us…. and on and on. What would YOU choose to focus on? Take a minute to think about it.

Wanna know the good news? We CAN! We CAN learn to do this. It just takes practice. And this is one of the main benefits of practices like mindfulness and meditation (and of course yoga as a moving mindfulness practice). These practices train us to:

1. First become aware of where and what our focus and awareness are doing at any given point. Most of the time, unfortunately, we are totally unaware, while our minds and emotions are off galavanting about, jerking us around, dragging us through complicated gyrations and whirlwinds, without any real conscious approval from us. Because, let’s face it, if we COULD choose, we would never choose some of the places our minds go, right? But our untrained minds develop these habits (remember negativity bias) in an attempt to try to protect us, not realizing that the actual result is usually more suffering.

2. Next, once we begin to notice these fluctuations of our awareness, we can begin to understand how each one makes us feel, how it deeply affects the quality of our everyday experience. For example, when you find your mind running off to crazy fears, how does that make you feel, physically or emotionally? Muscle tension, stomach upset, heart palpitating, breath shallow, irritability, impatience? Not ways we would CHOOSE to feel, right? How about when you are exercising, or working in the garden, praying, meditating, laughing with your best friend, or petting your cat? Do you feel relaxed, peaceful, heart full and open, grateful, hopeful, confident? These are things we WOULD choose if we could, right?

3. And then, through practice, we learn to consciously direct our focus, our awareness, to the places of our choosing, to the places that we know will help us feel our best. We begin to recognize more quickly when we are falling into a less favorable place, and we consciously move our awareness to a better option. For example, when I notice my mind falling into a pit of fear or judgement (which of course are totally normal, but just aren’t my favorite places to stay), I’ll usually take a few deep breaths, and then choose how I’m going to pull myself out of it. Make a gratitude list, repeat a prayer/mantra/song that relaxes or soothes me, set positive intentions for a loved one or for myself, a few minutes of square breathing or stretching, or a quick change of scenery like going for a walk, taking a hot shower, or checking on my plants. By practicing mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or other mind-body exercises, we learn which tools work best for us, and then we get good at quickly putting them into action when needed.

What is most interesting about all of this is that it is really a pretty simple thing to learn to do. It just takes practice. And our minds are sooooo amazingly powerful once we just learn to use them for our benefit, rather than being drug around unwittingly by those wild and untrained thoughts. Swami Vivekananda said “The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun; when they are concentrated, they illumine”. By learning focused awareness, we can direct that power like a laser beam, to illumine and develop our strengths. And while this skill would be helpful to anyone, it can be particularly helpful for us as cancer survivors, as we navigate through all of the extra ups and downs that having cancer brings.

So keep practicing, learn to consciously bring things into or out of your awareness at will. Focus on the things you choose to focus on, shine the light onto your best and highest self, and see the overall quality of your experience grow and blossom.


Empower Yourself in Cancer Recovery at Empower You

Ok y’all, remember when I mentioned I was thrilled to be collaborating on this incredible project, Empower You? It is officially open for membership! Founded by an amazing PHD cancer scientist and cancer-specialized yoga teacher (Kim Lowe), this program was designed to bring together all of the resources that cancer patients/survivors and their caregivers need to ease the challenges of navigating diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. The team includes 11 talented teachers in different specialties, from yoga to nutrition, meditation, strength training, energy medicine, art therapy, and self-massage. All of the teachers are trained and certified in wellness and committed to helping this population. Many are cancer survivors or caregivers themselves! 

Check out the website to learn more:

IMPORTANTLY, if you decide to join, use discount code LEONA25 to get 25% off. That gives you ALL of this fantastic content for 12 months for just $149 (regular price $199). Thanks Kim, for that generous discount for the Yoga with Leona crew!!

And IF YOU ARE A CURRENT YOGA WITH LEONA MEMBER , send me a message to get your special code to get your 25% off PLUS your next year at Yoga with Leona FREE! We want you to soak up all of these delicious resources! 

ps My practices at Empower You are based in the y4C (Yoga for Cancer) tradition, but geared toward  increasing from medium strength to more vigorous practice when you are ready. The other yoga teachers offer a wide variety of other yoga styles. Let me know if u have any questions.


Why I keep up my yoga practice

Are you new to Yoga with Leona? Wondering what the big deal is about yoga in breast cancer recovery? Why am I so obsessed with this practice? Let me count the ways…

I came to yoga practice about 12 or so years ago, originally to try to help with some chronic back pain. Thus began my journey into this amazing practice that continues to bring new benefits to me with each passing year; from even before my cancer when I was a hot mess of stress and over-worked exhaustion, to my cancer diagnosis full of fear and anxiety, through chemo and all of its attendant side effects, to recovery from surgery and radiation and the local effects on my chest and shoulder (which continue to some degree even 5 years out), and into the long term recovery and rebuilding my inner strength, my confidence in myself and my body, cultivating a place of peace, gratitude, and contentment that helps me feel joyful every day, in spite of life’s ups and downs. One of the amazing things about yoga is that it is a lifelong practice. It isn’t like some skill that you master and then you are done. With yoga, you continue to find new layers of depth and new types of growth, both in the physical body, but also deeper in the mind and in the spirit, with each passing year. And THIS is why I continue to practice. Let’s make a list.

First and foremost, yoga is a practice in awareness, in mindfulness. We use mindful movement, conscious breathing, and practices in focus and concentration to make us better able to stay present. Instead of being swept away by the torrent of crazy thoughts, fears, and emotions (all of which are expected and totally normal in this situation), our minds become calm and peaceful. We learn to disengage from those unhelpful thoughts when they arise, and to choose something healthier. The increased awareness of our body is so helpful too, as we become better attuned to what our bodies need.

Yoga practice keeps me feeling flexible in body and mind. Let’s face it, cancer, early menopause, and just age alone leave us feeling a little stiff sometimes. For me, especially in my radiated chest. But if I keep up my practice, that stiffness is only a minor annoyance (as opposed to truly painful and physically limiting if I don’t). For those of you with stiffness from estrogen blocking medications, there is a lot of data that physical activity, including yoga specifically, can help. AND yoga keeps me flexible in my mind. It is easy to get stuck in patterns of rigid thought and opinions about how we think the world should be. But this just brings frustration. Yoga philosophy helps us stay open and flexible, so that we can enjoy each moment as it comes.

Yoga practice helped me feel strong again after my cancer treatment. I’ve said before that I was really afraid that after treatment, I would have to accept some “new me” that was not able to do the things I used to do. That maybe I wouldn’t be able to lift certain things, or do vigorous yard work, or do a handstand again. Yoga practice helped me gain back all of the strength I had before, and MORE! I’m honestly much stronger now, both in my body and my mind. And the mental strength is even more important than the physical. Yoga practice teaches us that we are far more powerful than we know, that we can be confident in ourselves and trust that we can handle any obstacle before us.

But that leads me to the next point. This takes patience. Sometimes we want to just jump over that obstacle straight away. But many things require time. Including cancer recovery. While we are strong beyond measure, we have to build back to activities slowly, mindfully, patiently waiting until our bodies heal and catch up to where we need them to be. In this way we safely regain all of that strength and flexibility, without worrying that we are going to hurt or derail ourselves along the way. Just having cancer alone teaches us patience, but adding yoga in to our recovery adds this quality of empowerment to the patience. So it isn’t like we just have to lie around helpless and wait to be better. We are empowered to be actively doing something about it, but with control and the understanding that it takes some time.

Yoga practice also trains us in equanimity and acceptance. We learn to be ok with whatever life is bringing us on any given day, and not to get all flustered or hysterical if things aren’t ideal. We learn to breathe, just as we would in a challenging asana, and find some ease in the midst of the situation. We accept that the moment is what it is, but with our growing skills in patience, inner strength, confidence, and flexibility, we know that we will get through whatever challenges arise. So why get ourselves all upset and freaked out? Instead, we continue to breathe, and we calmly await a clear mind that can see the way forward.

These are all of my personal experiences and observations about how yoga has impacted me over the years. But it isn’t just me. There is an extensive scientific literature growing each year with new evidence that yoga practice does, in fact, carry significant benefits to cancer survivors, and how exactly these benefits arise in the body. For example, yoga practice is clearly associated with less cancer-related fatigue and improved energy. Yoga and meditation both clearly reduce markers of inflammation, which correlate to immune system function. Yoga and breathing practices tone and strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that brings us into rest and relaxation, to a place where healing can take place. Away from the stress response and chronic inflammation that result from the sympathetic nervous system being in overdrive from the threats of illness and the tension and anxiety that accompany it. This list of scientific studies on the benefits of yoga goes on and on, and is growing with each passing year.

I’m just like anybody, and I go through periods where I miss practice for a few days when I get busy with life or I’m traveling. But I generally regret it when I do, and I quickly come back to my mat. Back to this simple but profound practice that has completely transformed my life. It has taught me so much about myself, about how I move through the world, and helped me to cultivate those qualities that make me feel my best: a calm awareness, a peaceful presence, a compassion and understanding for myself and others (except in traffic, lol I’m working on that), a flexibility and openness to whatever arises, and a true joy for each day.

So whether you are new to yoga and just trying to figure out what it is all about, or you’ve been practicing for many years, my advice is to keep practicing. It doesn’t have to be a full 60-90 minute sweat-fest. Sometimes some gentle stretching in bed, or 15 minutes of mindful breathing is just right. Listen to your body and Just. Keep. Practicing! Maybe you’ll find similar benefits to mine. Maybe yours will be completely different. Maybe they’ll be mostly in the body, or mostly in the mind, or maybe a mix of both. But I really believe in this practice, and I trust you won’t regret it.


Opening our hearts with loving-kindness practice

How about a little mid-week metta? Have you heard of the metta prayer, or loving kindness meditation? I first learned about this through a yoga practice, in which this practice was presented as a theme by my teacher Anna, and I loved it, and continue to use it for yoga practices I lead as well. The metta prayer is used commonly in the Buddhist tradition, but can be seen in many other spiritual traditions as well. The basic practice is to focus your mind on extending loving-kindness, wellness, and good intentions – first to oneself, and then extending that same energy out into the world. I like to start with myself, then focusing on someone near and dear to me, then to an acquaintance, then to someone I have struggled with, and then out to all beings. In this way, we open our hearts first to ourselves (which for some of us can be the most difficult), and then sequentially to all beings in the universe. By repeating the phrases over and over, extending the kindness and good intentions to ourselves and others, we cultivate feelings of friendliness, openness, and understanding. We begin to see that we all, even those who we have problems with in the past, are just beings with our own struggles and that we all desire to be happy, healthy, at peace, etc…

There are many different versions of the metta prayer, and you can build your own, depending on what specific qualities you are hoping to cultivate. That is actually where this pic came from. I was working on building my own metta, and these are the intentions that I came up with. Mine is long, as per my usual habit of being long-winded ;).

So I would begin my metta practice, saying:

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I be free from both inner and outer dangers

May I be healed

May I be at peace

May I see clearly

May I awaken to the light of my own true being

May I be joyful

And I might repeat this several times for myself. Then, I turn my attention to a loved one:

May he be happy

May he be healthy

May he be free from both inner and outer dangers

May he be healed

May he be at peace

May he see clearly

May he awaken to the light of his own true being

May he be joyful

Again, repeating as many times as you like. And then moving the intention to others, and eventually to all beings. May all beings….

As I mentioned, this practice can be used as a part of a yoga asana practice, intermittently stopping the physical movements to return to the meditation. But it is also a wonderful stand-alone meditation, that will leave you feeling open-hearted and amazing.

If you like the idea of continuing a practice of loving-kindness, I recommend following Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock, who does a beautiful Monday Metta each week. I love seeing those come across my newsfeed every week, reminding me to stop and practice myself.

May we all be filled with loving kindness.

Spring into your power

Happy Spring yogis! Yesterday was the spring equinox, or the first day of spring, when the length of the light matches the length of the dark, for those of us in the northern hemisphere. I celebrated the day, and the coming season of increasing light, with 108 sun salutations. 108 sun salutations are practiced by many yogis for different reasons, including marking the change of seasons, celebrating important dates or occasions, re-connecting to our practice, cleansing, detoxifying, optimizing energy flow in the body, and so many others. Here is a short vid of the last set of my 108 (you can tell it was the end and I was pooped by how hard I am breathing 😉 ).

What is up with the number 108? Well this number is considered sacred and significant in many different traditions from Ayurveda to astronomy, Buddhism, Hinduism, and others. And for those of you sports fans, I also learned from my teacher that 108 is the number of stitches on a baseball! As you know, sun salutations are combinations or sequences of movements in yoga practice that are meant to build heat in the body, and to create a moving meditation as we repeat these movements in concert with our breath. Sun salutations can be vigorous, and 108 is a big number, so practicing this can be challenging to body and mind. But the benefits of the practice can be so profound. Here are a few of the reasons I like to do it.

One simple one is to celebrate the change of seasons, and specifically for Spring, to welcome the increasing light and clarity as winter passes. Creating the habit of practicing 108 at the change of seasons just helps remind us to take a little time to recognize the changes, and what they might mean for us in our lives.

Many of you know, I love sun salutations for their moving meditative qualities. When I practice sun sals, I truly get lost in the harmonization of my body with my breath as I transition from one shape to the next. It is almost impossible not to be truly present in this place, as my thinking mind quiets to stillness.

Another important reason I like to practice 108 with some regularity is that is provides an opportunity for me to consciously recommit to my yoga practice. Like anyone, I occasionally find a little stagnation in my practice or lose motivation, and 108 always stokes that inner fire right back up and reminds me why I get on my mat, renewing my dedication and love for yoga.

Perhaps the most important reason I keep coming back to this practice of 108 sun salutations is the way in which it brings me face to face with the strength and resilience of my body and my mind. When I practice 108, I feel healthy, confident, and empowered, despite the scars, asymmetries, and limitations that my cancer treatment left behind. I was a little reluctant to share this video, as it so obviously shows my wonky chest, with one breast implant high and prominent due to fibrosis from radiation, and the other riding lower and highlighting the breast animation deformity (movement effect from the pectoralis muscle). While overall I am very grateful just to be alive and healthy, and I feel fortunate to have even been able to have bilateral breast reconstruction after my cancer treatment…. there is certainly still a part of me that feels “ugly” and “damaged” when I see myself in certain images or videos. However, when I watched this particular video clip after recovering from my practice and savasana, instead of those negative emotions, I felt love and compassion for myself. I felt full acceptance and even an embracing of all of my physical scars and imperfections, as well as my sometimes busy and judging mind, my self-doubt, my fears, all of it…. in other words I was able to welcome the whole catastrophe that is me (a reference to Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living, a guide to mindfulness).

And THIS is the magic of yoga. As one famous yoga teacher Rachel Brathen so eloquently said, “The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible or standing on your head is not the goal. The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. The goal is to love…. well, you”.

So for all of these reasons, today on the second day of Spring, I am devoted to continuing this yoga journey of growth and transformation, to continue to nourish and strengthen my body, heart, mind, and spirit.

My wish for you is that you find whatever practices or habits leave you similarly empowered and motivated to love and care for yourself as you recover from cancer and the effects of its treatment. It doesn’t have to be yoga or 108 sun salutations. It could be walking or painting, cycling or swimming, gardening or singing. But find what works for you. You owe it to yourself and you have the power.


THIS is yoga too

Most yoga photos show big, dramatic, or graceful poses, often with pretty nature backgrounds or even sometimes contrasting with busy urban settings. I love yoga photography, and full transparency, I love those pix of the big, beautiful, challenging postures. They are gorgeous and inspiring. But I think it is imperative that we remember that the real work of yoga, and the real benefits of yoga, don’t come from these snapshots in time, nor from the mastery of fancy postures. The real magic of yoga comes from the deeper work. From the quiet, contemplative, and introspective moments on our mat. In those moments that don’t look so impressive on the outside, where we are connecting, not just to our bodies, but to an even deeper place of stillness, of inner peace, of bliss.

Don’t get me wrong, a strong, vigorous, energetic yoga practice is so healing and empowering, as it deepens our connection to our body and reminds us of how truly powerful we are. This is especially true for those of us healing from a cancer experience. I LOVE this aspect of my vigorous vinyasa practice, and am so grateful for it. But to me, the even more profound benefits of yoga are found in those quiet moments, deeper than the physical body. That inner peace and bliss can be found in a simple easy seated pose like the one in the photo, OR inside of a big, vigorous pose. Enjoy them all. Embrace those big poses and revel in your strength, but take care not to get distracted and lose sight of the simple, quiet ones as well. Just stay connected to that inner stillness throughout, and you will get the most out of this truly transformative practice.

Namaste yogis

Photo cred to my beautiful and talented friend, Emily Cesca Photography

The power of finding contentment in uncomfortable places

Have you ever done the splits (aka hanumanasana) on a piece of driftwood? Yeah, so it wasn’t the best idea, nor the most comfortable place I’ve ever practiced this pose. But it was a pretty scene along my hike, so I went ahead. And it actually turns out to be nicely symbolic of the idea behind this awesome quote from Walt Whitman. “Happiness, not in another place, but this place…. not for another hour, but this hour”. To me, this quote echoes of santosha, one of my favorite of the niyamas from yoga philosophy, which help guide us in developing healthy attitudes and thought patterns to support us both on and off of our yoga mats. Santosha means contentment, and the idea is that we must strive to find some level of contentment in all circumstances, irrespective of how uncomfortable or difficult those circumstances might be. Yoga teaches us to practice finding ease and contentment in the most uncomfortable positions, like this one, hanumanasana, or some other crowd favorites like utkatasana (sometimes called chair pose) or navasana (boat pose).

As with most things in yoga asana practice, the practice of santosha on the mat is a little microcosm preparing us for santosha off the mat, in real life. Finding contentment in the midst of physical struggle (like screaming hamstrings or quivering quadriceps) trains us to more easily be able to find contentment when challenging situations arise off of the mat. And I think this is why santosha speaks to me so much. As cancer survivors, we have many uncomfortable or challenging moments, like the physical challenge of healing from surgery or radiation, coping with long term effects of those treatments, waiting patiently for chemo side effects to subside, the PTSD- like fear of going in for follow up testing, and even the tragic loss of one of our warrior brothers or sisters. While there is obviously no magic trick that will make all of these challenging moments go away, nor make navigating them easy peasy, a little practice in santosha can make them less painful and more manageable, thus opening up some space for more enjoyable emotions to arise.

Just as we learn to do on our mat while the teacher is counting breaths so slowly that it seems like we’ll just die here in boat pose, we relax our minds (maybe even smile a little at how damn slow her breathing is!), tune in to our own breath, and bear with it. And so often, we find out that we can stick with it longer than we thought! We discover that we have those same tools at our disposal when life throws us a really challenging situation. We can relax our minds, tune in to our breath, and hang in there, happily encountering that deep well of calm strength that we didn’t know was there. Obviously some life challenges are profound and completely overwhelming, making even the calmest, coolest spirits get flustered. That is life and it is ok. But perhaps those are the times that this practice is most important. So that, instead of falling completely and irreversibly to pieces, we eventually… no matter how long it takes…. come back to our breath, drop in to that calm peaceful mind, and again find our strength and determination to move forward. In this way, yoga empowers us, creating resilience, an inner confidence, and a knowing that, whatever arises, we can breathe through it. It’s really kindof a superpower. When we learn to tap in to this resilience and this ability to find contentment despite outer circumstances, our suffering shrinks and our joy and happiness grow.

So whatever challenge you might be going through today, instead of allowing yourself to stew in it and suffer, see if you can’t take a deep breath, smile to yourself and practice finding that little sliver of happiness…. in this place…. in this hour. You have the power. Keep practicing and see it grow even stronger.


Root down strong like a banyan tree

This incredible banyan tree lies at the entrance to my street, and probably played at least some role in our choosing the home that we did. My husband and I both LOVE this tree, and are just in awe of its beauty, its power, its vastness, and its energy. Not to mention its resilience in continuing to thrive despite the streets that were built on either side of it. I wonder how old it is, and I’m so grateful that it wasn’t destroyed when this neighborhood was built.

Trevor Hall is a musician I was introduced to by a friend (thank you Chastity!) a year or two ago, and I love to practice yoga to his music. This lyric, “When the mind is spinning, what to believe? Root down strong like a banyan tree” has always struck me, but took on a whole new meaning as I was looking at this photo and admiring all of the aerial roots, and how these banyan trees send these roots down from their branches as a means of gaining more structural strength as well as improving access to more water and nutrients as the tree grows. So these trees have an unusual appearance, but that appearance is the result of true adaptability and versatility that give these trees their immense power.

You may have read this excerpt from Ram Dass about turning people into trees “When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees”.

So this gorgeous and resilient banyan at the base of my street reminds me of how we, as cancer survivors and thrivers, sometimes have to adapt to less than ideal situations, but when we allow ourselves to do so, we can become even stronger than before. It is so common to have a mind that is spinning, and feel overwhelmed or disoriented. But we can root down and find our footing, our balance, and our strength. This may happen in unconventional ways that look weird or different to people who don’t understand, and even to ourselves. But instead of judging ourselves or doubting ourselves, let’s practice turning ourselves into trees. And appreciating whatever jigs and jags we have had to make, whatever funny looking roots we have needed to develop to keep ourselves going. Let’s allow and love ourselves, and truly SEE ourselves with all of our beauty, our power, our vastness, and our energy. Just like my beloved banyan.


Being a light unto ourselves in cancer recovery

Yesterday was a really beautiful day, with a deep blue sky and warm sun shining down. The kind of sunshine that just warms your soul. And maybe I was feeling extra good because we had just gotten some good news on my nephew, who is going through a health situation. But as I was driving to the grocery and enjoying the beauty of the day, this George Harrison song came on, and it was like a scene out of a movie, when the soundtrack is just so perfectly on point. Here comes the sun, do do do, here comes the sun and I say, it’s all right…. It also happens to be one of my favorite songs to start out a yoga playlist!

Anyway, it got me thinking about just how much some simple warm sunlight can change my mood. Especially during the winter, when cold dark days can be a little bit of a downer. I’m fortunate now, to live in a place that is really pretty warm and sunny all year. But I grew up in Indiana, where the winters are dreary and cold, and I definitely had a case of seasonal affective disorder as a kid. And boy, during some of those stretches of darkness, the warmth of the sun could do so much to lift my spirits. Even still, in Puerto Vallarta, sometimes we have weather patterns that bring days of cloudiness and more chilly air, and we had a bit of one of these recently, which is maybe another reason the sun felt so good yesterday.

But one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t control the weather. Duh, right? Sometimes we are just going to have stretches of cold or darkness, and periods of difficulty or challenge, that make us long for the light to come back in. The same is true in life, of course. We are all going to have periods of relative darkness, no matter how much we resist them….and no matter how much we go on vacation 😉 So when those periods of darkness and difficulty come, we need to be able to light our own path. And the Buddha (or Krishnamurti depending on where u look) encouraged us to do so, saying “Be a light unto yourself”. This is one of the places where yoga and yoga philosophy can really help us, as we traverse these cold and dark periods in cancer treatment and recovery. We can learn to find our own light to warm and guide us through difficult times.

Yoga teaches us to turn inward, to connect with our bodies and our inner light. Yoga teaches us to find contentment and joy, despite external circumstances, to be less attached to whatever might be going on around us. Yoga trains us to remain peaceful and at ease, even in the midst of challenge (be it a long hold in boat pose or a life challenge off the mat). Yoga helps us find and strengthen that inner light, empowering us to find our own way out of the darkness. Of course it is awesome when a little sunshine joins in and gives us a boost. But just in case the sun in the sky is obscured today where you are, do what you can to find and fan that light of your own. Trust me. It is there and it is brilliant.