My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 17 years old. I didn’t understand the real danger she was in at the time, so it was a surprise to me when she passed away on a spring night after a surgery I had expected her to come home from. She seemed so healthy to me, granted a little frailer, a little less round, but overall the same jovial, loving woman she’d been throughout my childhood.I spent hours of my life beside her, reading new books she’d plucked from the bookshelf at the public library and smelling the soft scent of coffee sweetened with a drop of maple syrup. She seemed to have found her peace well before I did, and it’s a blessing to know that she was at peace when she passed from this world to the next.
When I discovered yoga, I was intrigued by the meditative calm that seemed to surround its practitioners. My peers prefer the high energy, less meditative side of yoga, but I’ve always been drawn to the meditation and relaxation side. It’s where I feel my grandmother’s peace.
I think she would’ve enjoyed yoga. She was a feisty woman, don’t get me wrong, but she also had the authority of an oracle when she was giving advice or talking about life. I may be biased, but not many swami masters could out-zen my grandmother. I think she would’ve liked meditation and the sense of community you get from being around other people who share common interests or life’s situations with you.
I had stumbled across a retreat program while doing some research called Yoga Therapy in Cancer and Chronic Illness (YCat) and became fascinated by how they were helping people who had similar illnesses to my grandmother. It’s hard to find a sense of belonging in the lowest points of your life, but YCat pursues meditation and physical activity to help people get through one of the scariest things anyone can go through.
Founded by RN Jnani Chapman in 1998, YCat assists health professionals and advanced yoga practitioners in hosting classes safely for people who have suffered from cancer and chronic illnesses. Friends and loved ones are welcome, and you don’t need to be an expert to join a class nearest you. The retreats are hosted all over the country and feature gentle yoga and talented speakers who address some of the big elephants in the room when it comes to openly discussing illnesses of any kind.
The fact that they don’t charge an arm and a leg for classes is admirable. Instead, YCat therapists offer universal understanding and acceptance, which is more than enough for most.
Healing Helplessness with Hope
Yoga can’t cure cancer by any means, but according to the American Cancer Society, it can be used to relieve symptoms of chronic illnesses, as well as provide a general sense of well-being for patients. As with any physical activity, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting, just for cautionary reasons.
We all need peace in some way or another, but it’s those of us who are the most vulnerable who probably need it the most. I hope each one finds a place for it and, if you’re looking for one, you might want to try a YCat-certified class near you.
What brings you peace? Comment below to let us know!