Yoga for Cancer

It was a rainy day in San Francisco--perfect weather for being inside a spacious yoga studio with a wall of windows. I was surrounded by a group of teachers dedicated to helping themselves and others heal. Some of them were cancer survivors in remission. Others were in the thick of treatments. And yet others (like me) either work with those affected by cancer or were somehow inspired to do so.

As people began introducing themselves around the semi-circle, I could feel their words like music that speaks directly to your heart--the kind of music that takes you out of your head and delivers you to life. I knew that I'd probably cry when I did my introduction. (I've always excelled at crying in front of others. My emotions diffuse through my skin, and I'm so sensitive to people's energy, which makes it hard to keep from crying. I was always embarrassed of this as a kid, but I've learned to run with it and embrace it as a strength.) I could  feel my mom in the yoga studio with me and the stories of those around me were so moving. There was some serious strength present and I felt honored to be be a part of it. This manifested as tears.

Tari Prinster, a yogi and a cancer survivor, shared with us some of her wisdom. I learned the science of why certain postures strengthen the immune system and why some should be avoided. She addressed the emotional, mental and physical needs of someone with cancer and how to work with these needs. I started going back through my notes tonight and wish I had done this a day after the workshop, rather than a week. I can barely read my own writing! Tari was wonderful and I hope that I can do a future training with her. Normally her teacher trainings are 45 hours. This was just a 2 day workshop (and I could only attend one day).

I look forward to sharing what I learned with others. I'm going to start with my husband's aunt who is interested in incorporating yoga into her treatment. From there I hope to offer a class to other people in the community.

Here is a quote from BKS Iyengar that Tari shared with us. I think of it as remembering to keep a 'beginner's mind' or the curiosity of a child when teaching or with everything, really....

To stay awake means,  “To not imagine that you already understand and impose your imperfect understanding on those who come to you for help.”

Or in the words of the Zen teacher, Suzuki: 
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.


  1. Colleen– I just returned to NYC after 6 days in Napa with my family. I tried to stay 'off the net' during that time. Surfacing now to your blog post. This is beautiful. I will share it with others in an email to the group and on my blog. Thank you!
    As you go forward in your with with your Aunt or others, it at anytime you have questions, please email me. Answers will be shared with all on my blog. My dream is to have AskTari be regular feature in Yoga Journal.
    Please join a 45 training. See the schedule at www.tariprinster.com.
    Namaste, tari

  2. Sounds amazing. I love that you excel at crying. Remember Finn's first birthday? So beautiful. Your going to be great at this.

  3. CoCo-your blog is the only one I ever read and I love every word you type. I can hear you in the words and think of our days at the YO as roomies. I think you are so strong and courageous. I wish I could learn Yoga from you...hugs and kisses from MI. HoHo!

  4. Thanks so much for your sweet words Holly! I miss you. I think the last time I slept completely through the night was when we shared a room that spring working at the Y.O. ! (by the way: I think of you as strong & courageous;)xxoo


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