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Yoga: From Multi-tasking Over-thinker to Mindful Athlete

As a recovering work-obsessed multi-tasker, I spent most days analyzing work and life situations while also writing emails, listening to conference calls in the car driving, or reading industry information during exercise sessions. The idea of “doing it all” energized me. But truthfully, I was always exhausted and stressed. I took yoga a few times to “de-stress,” but found limiting my thoughts to be impossible. In addition, I felt foolish because I thought everyone around me was “better at stretching.” So I gave up before I really even began. Despite my lackluster first experiences with it, I ran to yoga after my second breast cancer diagnosis and haven’t turned back since.

This time I gave it an honest chance, perhaps because I needed to ease my mind. I stopped looking around at others and listened to the teacher. I worked on breathing slowly through my nose. I practiced each pose and often fell, but this time didn’t bash myself; I just continued. If my mind started to wander, I thought about how my sweat would rid the cancerous toxins from my body. Yoga became my retreat.

While it may sound silly, I love that moment early in the morning when I first lay down on the mat with my eyes closed in the warm studio. Momentarily, I feel like I’ve been swept away to a beautiful tropic. Even years after starting, the cancer treatment makes my body stiff, so my practice is far from perfect. But, I’m ok with it. No one is watching, they are focusing on themselves, not me. Yoga is the first place where I saw athletes competing only with themselves, not others.

Athlete or not, after an hour to 90-minutes of hot yoga, I feel strong. The calmness and void of brain racing has helped me be more mindful of my daily activities, which is actually refreshing from the rat-race lifestyle I once adored. Now with a few years under my belt, my skin is noticeably smoother. Perhaps I’ve lost a few pounds, as well. While I look like a drenched rat walking out of the studio, post-shower I have a beautiful glow.

Equally as important as looking and feeling good, the media has been covering the value of yoga for breast cancer recovery:

1. MD Anderson Study – Practicing yoga three times a week for several weeks improved pain, fatigue and mood in breast cancer patients. Most notably, it also has been shown to regulate the stress hormone cortisol associated with breast cancer growth. ABC News – How Yoga Can Help Women with Breast Cancer

2. Ohio State University Study – Practicing yoga two times a week for several weeks can help lower inflammation and fatigue. Medical News Today – Breast Cancer Survivors Benefit from Yoga

I’m hooked. Life gets busy and I don’t always have (or should I say make) the time to practice several times a week. I still go back regularly, though. Even when I can’t make a class, I use the breathing lessons learned to ease myself in a stressful situation.

What are your experiences with yoga? What tools do you use to find a little zen in your day?

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This site chronicles my experiences including research, interviews, meetings, seminars and observations made knowing I have cancer. I am not a medical expert or health care professional. The lifestyle changes and decisions I have made are personal decisions analyzed often with family, friends as well as my own medical and natural team.

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a commission with no costs to you. I pro-actively try various products and then affiliate myself with these items that I already use and love.

11 Comments

  1. I love reading through an article that will make people think.
    Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

  2. I’ve been thinking about yoga for a long time, but for some reason I am still not doing it.. I will have to start finally!
    Marina @ Parental Journey recently posted…How Should Parents Help With Homework

    • You should definitely try a class. There are so many health benefits. I love hot yoga, it soothes my soul and feel cathartic. Keep me posted. I would love to hear what you think.

  3. Not going to lie as I have yet to truly give yoga a try, but after reading all the benefits above I think I may definitely need to try soon. Thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving once again.
    Janine Huldie recently posted…10 Tips & Tricks for a Harmonious Thanksgiving

    • I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving, too. I do love yoga. I finally found what works for me. I like the heat with Bikrum/hot yoga. When I want more of a strength training workout I do a vinyasa class. It takes time to figure it out, but now I’m hooked.

  4. I sometimes wish I could take myself seriously when it came to Yoga – but I totally can’t!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Will He Swallow? A Protein Powder Taste Test…

    • I hear that yoga is a complementary workout for strength training, though. You may like it. I enjoy hot yoga/Bikrum more than traditional room temp yoga.

  5. OK, so confession time. I was just given a diagnosis with my heart that is totally to blame on myself and over-exhaustion. Crazy huh? So, I am renewing my commitment starting next week to do Yoga and trying to focus a little more time on healing myself.
    Jen recently posted…The Happy Now Blog Link- Up #35

    • I’m so sorry. Are you ok? Is this something you can change with lifestyle tweaks? I do love yoga. It really helped me through the initial months after my stage IV diagnosis.

  6. wen budro

    Mindfulness and meditation have really helped me with my anxiety. I find that trying to multitask just stresses me out.

    • I love mindfulness practices, too. I’m glad that it has helped you. Breathing exercises can be helpful, too. Have you tried alternate nostril breathing?

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