Yoga for Cancer

Yoga for Cancer

I started my yoga practice because I had nerve damage. My foot had been bent backwards and smashed. I couldn’t walk. I was so shocked that I loved the study of yoga. I had tried it once in college and thought it was weird. But, once I had real pain, and a real desire not to take medicine for it, I realized what a gift this was for me. I soon found myself studying to become a teacher. Quickly after I graduated, so many people heard my story, I started meeting people who had car accidents, and cancer and numerous other problems. It quickly became clear: I needed to study more. I wanted so much to support others in the way that yoga had supported me.

I love offering yoga for people who are in cancer treatment, and for people who have recently completed their treatments. For me, it is a chance for others to experience the same relief I experienced when I realized I was going to be able to handle what was happening to my body. Moving from a feeling of being at the mercy of others into a place of knowing what I wanted to do next was huge for me.

What is yoga therapy like? When I support people who are in cancer treatment, I combine gentle movement that is specific to the needs of the body, with support for the mind and emotions. What I find is that when people are dealing with cancer, so much of all our other problems come into sharp focus. The care for the kids, the need to maintain social ties (and dealing with how they have changed), the desire to do things that aren’t yet available for whatever reason - financial or other - all of this can become so much more important and truly challenging to manage. Yoga therapy helps us to simplify, address what we can, and do so in ways that we value. I have seen people improve their relationships with family and co-workers. I have seen people begin to ask for what they need and feel more connected to others. I have seen people come to accept difficult relationships. All of this is just a natural part of learning yogic methods for calming the mind and body as we accept the process and move through it, together.

What is real, and really matters in your life comes into very sharp focus during times of challenge. I love to be the support to help when the person doesn’t want to be asked any questions. There are definitely days like that for anyone, but when chemo starts to affect the person, yoga allows us to just let it go, and find relaxation and ease. Maybe one day it is just about getting a deeper sense of rest. Maybe another day what is needed is the chance to listen to gorgeous music and experience that we can be in community without talking. Sometimes, people really want to talk about a worry that has been on the mind. The body has its own wisdom, and yoga gives us a chance to honor that.

I offer practices to help the mind calm, and let go of the stresses around chemo brain. We share what are called mantras and mudras, these are little sounds and hand movements which help connect us to our own needs in the moment without having to think so hard. We also do physical movements with the rest of the body to help create a sense of ease on those days when we feel itchy or fidgety. We find ways to help the body release tension, and keep our strength. We get in touch with the needs of the day, and do what is needed to care for whatever arises. Yoga takes what we are and what we enjoy, and helps it to blossom into healing practices.

As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I love being able to offer additional types of support, too. Sometimes we talk about food choices, or the need to be in nature and soak in the beauty of the day. Sometimes, we need to just simplify and find something - that one thing - that we can enjoy. There is so much available to use for healing. I love to learn about favorite activities of the people I work with and help to incorporate these into our work together whenever possible. Finding what brings joy and ease becomes a guiding principle.

People have different needs as they walk with their own disease processes. One person may find healing as they get better. One person may find healing as they move into greater ease with the dying process. In the whole of things, a yoga therapist is there to walk with you.

To be one present person who listens without an agenda, unless you want me to have one. Sometimes the greatest need of the day is getting help with phone calls to doctors, or contacting family members for the person. I have helped people create email lists so they can send one letter to many people, rather than 20. I have helped people find the person to direct all the calls to, so they can rest without the phone ringing.

The yoga sutras say that practice of yoga is effort towards steadiness of mind. Yoga is a wide range of practices that can be used to help us let go of the struggle with what is. What we learn is that we are so much more capable and supported than we realized. We find just how wide and various our strengths are. I love to learn how individual people can be as I serve the cancer community and others. This service, for me, deepens my own connection to the community, and the value of my practice. I love to support people in helping the body restore itself, and accept itself in all its many ways of being.

To me, the practice of yoga means nothing if it cannot address the truly important moments in our lives. I love getting the chance to watch yoga move and change and go with the flow to meet the needs of each of the people in front of me.

My approach is most definitely not cookie cutter.

If you or someone you know if going through cancer or another life changing experience, let me know how I can serve you by contacting me at 906-251-0032. - Dharmini

Not Going Extreme

Not Going Extreme

I know, this time of year has so many pleasing foods and options to indulge. I am not against having joy from our food. There is something truly important about sharing our time with others and experiencing nourishment. I like to be able to accommodate and participate. Let me share some of my thinking on this: 

As yogis, we want to avoid choosing an extreme practice later to make up for decisions now.  

In the United States, people sometimes get into the habit of doing things that lead to feeling bloated, exhausted, or otherwise feeling bad after the holidays. Sometimes people decide they will make up for it by “Doing a cleanse” or getting a gym membership in the new year and then really pushing themselves to burn off the extra pounds. 

Ayurveda says there are several reasons it is a bad idea to plan practices like cleanses, sudden pushing the exercise, and generally pushing new practices to try to “fix your health” after bad choices over a short period. I can think of eight reasons not to do it right off the top of my head, but I will try to make this more brief than that. 

We don't need to go extreme: 

Ayurvedic reasons not to choose to cleanse or hit the gym with force after the holidays: 

  • It can create a sense of lack in the system (removing excess can also remove the supportive good stuff) and leave the immune system with fewer resources to keep ourselves healthy. The result can be more colds or flus, or even just more exhaustion, hunger, and feeling like indulging. 
  • It leaves the body in a new position. The body likes to adapt to what it experiences. When we do a cleanse we may have radically disrupted the adaptation process. We have effectively bored down deeper into the system, removing layers of protection built up to handle our normal habits. If we return to eating the way we did before, it can sometimes create unexpected reactions. The body likes a gentler approach in most cases. We want to adapt to feeling better and being and eating healthier, not create wild swings in the body that the body will react to. 
  • Big swings create reactionary systems, not strong stable systems. We know that how we eat, not exercise, stabilizes weight. We also know that sudden pushing at the gym can weaken ligaments and risk tears and injury. We can go gently and bring the system into strength and balance. 

Ways to be gentle now: 

1.Let yourself have lots of cooked veggies now. 

2.Have some kitchari or other really supportive foods for your digestion intermittently during this season. 

3.Let yourself get some cardio in right now.
4.Begin a pacing of love, self love and love those in your life right now. 

5.Take your time. 

6.Enjoy it all. 

Doing any of these practices can help the body to have a sense of adaptation, gentleness and to allow the body to handle a few sweets and late nights without too much trouble. We can treat ourselves kindly and enjoy being in the body throughout this time of year. 

Next time: Ways to enjoy the body and fall in love with our yoga practice again, especially during the holidays! 

Ayurvedic note: When traditional cleanses are done in Ayurveda, they are generally encouraged to be done in a retreat, away from normal daily life, and with constant care, in consistent prayer and meditation so the body is deeply soothed. During that time we are asked not to engage with normal day to day stressors. These centers take our phones, limit chatter, and provide lots love massages, solitude and no televisions, computers or even reading (besides spiritual reading). This is done particularly because the period when the cleanse is happening can be hard on the system, and the body needs really great support. 

What you need to know about the Holidays as a Yogi

What you need to know about the Holidays as a Yogi

Rather than fooling ourselves into thinking we can fix ourselves up later after we do damage now, through rushing, eating until it hurts, or just plain focusing on the wrong thing in the moment - take a beautiful break now. Breathe, and know that you are already very clear on what you desire. That desire will lead you to pick a beautiful “spice” to bring to all the parties you attend, and give you meaningful days here at the end of the year. 

We are Entering a Period of Intense Self-Care

For so many of us living in the cold North woods means that we get used to taking a moment at this time of year to note what we need. We clean out the yard, and put away things that can be damaged or in the way during the winter. We place wood where we can more easily get to it. We make sure the sauna has a lovely stock of all we love to have with us for that practice. We look for more light. 

This is the time of year when the light appears to be more scarce, when it is actually to come from us more than from the sun. This is the time when we note if we are feeling sensitive to the loss of external light. We see what we can do to turn on more lights in the mornings. We can check on neighbors and newcomers who aren't as used to the sensitivities that life here gives us to our own needs, and to those of others. 

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How can you care for yourself? 1. If you know you tend to need more light, consider getting a happy light (I offer them here) if you don't have one and/or taking some Vitamin D. If you have a happy light, you can bring it out and use it for 20 minutes in the morning, or longer if you have been feeling depressed. 2. Let yourself have more moments with others who bring you joy, that internal light, or spend time journaling or creating an indoor garden (with lights). Think of little extras to bring you into the light and out of the feeling of darkness, even if you are not feeling bad yet. 3. Breathe. There is something special coming. You need time to dream up what that will be. 

As the holidays come closer, many people feel the extra sadnesses of family lost, pressure of family and schedule, or un-ease as they contemplate how to eat with others and care for themselves. Let yourself take a little time now to plan and to make choices that work for you.

Ayurveda says we are all so individual, we can often make subtle changes to have big impacts. I believe this is true. Making little changes and then seeing how that worked for you, rather than taking big dramatic steps can help to conserve energy. It also lets you feel that inner glow that arises in the beauty and quiet of being real with yourself. Knowing you need something is not an indicator of a problem. It is what helps us to move into new and creative territory. 

Let this time of year become a way to care for yourself and reach into your inner light. It shines so brightly among our community. <3

Ayurvedic Wellness Check-in Time

Ayurvedic Wellness Check-in Time

 

This is the perfect time to schedule your fall check in.  Ayurveda is, thankfully, based on prevention rather than just chasing symptoms. I love this aspect of Ayurveda. 

Part of what I noticed as I began to practice Ayurveda was that this "people's medicine" was really making a big difference in how often I caught the colds going around. I was grateful to no longer felt like I would automatically catch everything. I realized there was something I could do, and that I could learn to do it for myself. 

I love sharing this with others. You don't need to know a whole lot to get started, but a personal check-in with a pulse assessment will save you lots of trial and error in learning what your body needs. And a skilled practitioner can help you to hone in on how you can know what the body is telling you. Your body is intelligent. Ayurveda helps you to understand what the body is saying it needs. 

Find out if the immune system is feeling strong enough for the changes in the season. Discover easy ways to check if the types of oils needed to support the skin are what you are using. Feel more comfortable about having enough energy to get through the holidays. All this can happen as a part of an Ayurvedic assessment. 

You can schedule easily by clicking on Reserve Your Spot.

Or you can call or text to #906-251-0032

I am also able to schedule distance assessments, particularly if you have been to me in person before. Just let me know that you are interested in a distance assessment. I do a visual assessment using Zoom conferencing software (which is free),  and I ask some particular questions to help you arrive at an understanding of what you need. 

Why I Offer Ayurveda

Why I Offer Ayurveda

When I first heard about Ayurveda, I wasn't really sure what to think. I had never heard of it. It sounded like any herbal medicine to me. I was somewhat familiar with Western herbalism, but I didn't really know much about that either. There were a couple of herbs I could name and knew the uses for. But that was about it. 

When I realized that I was dealing with a few little symptoms that doctors couldn't give me information on, I looked into Ayurveda further. My joints cracked, all the time, since I was little. Doctors weren't offering much besides medications for arthritis, but I wanted to prevent pain that was probably coming. 

Ayurveda says that cracking joints is a symptom of vata in the joints. The full description of what this was for me could be different than it is for another person. But for me, I was so pleased to find that there was a way to address this, before it became a problem. Following that process has changed areas of pain in other joints for me. 

I kept looking. 

I found I had skin problems that were difficult to address using over-the-counter medicines. I tried so many options, but I had skin that got cut easily, and I experienced a lot of pain. As I continued to look into ayurvedic practices, I found simple changes in my daily routine that could support my skin and prevent pain and cuts. I also, eventually discovered an herbal blend, which is ancient, which has completely changed my relationship to my skin. It is now not getting cut so easily. I also started building stronger nails, as a bonus gift of the process. Who knew? 

I offer Ayurveda because it has been so helpful to me. I cannot imagine how it would be to age with all of the problems I used to experience. I studied ayurveda so I could support people with a wide variety of ailments. I wanted others to be able to experience that we can soothe and heal without harshness toward the body. This health support is sometimes subtle, and very deep. Often, as we support one aspect of the body, multiple issues resolve.

I practice Ayurveda because it is so beautiful to see the results. 

 

 

It is Hard to Start Yoga Therapy, but...

It is Hard to Start Yoga Therapy, but...

Sometimes it takes a lot to start a new practice. For people who aren't experiencing pain, just making the choice to start yoga can cause nervousness, and people often want to gather support from friends who are coming along.

For those of us with pain, getting a friend who has a similar issue to join us can be hard to find. In fact, it may make us even more nervous to ask someone who knows us to come along than it would to just go alone. Getting the courage to start to do yoga, especially when we know it is going to hurt, is truly a big challenge.

Here's the thing... the biggest, hardest part is starting. After that, you will know what is going to happen.

Yes, sometimes we have to endure some pain, while the body adjusts, to begin to practice. Even so, it gets better. The way we practice is not meant to hurt but to heal. The way we practice, we learn to discern the difference between the pain that means growth and the pain that we want to steer clear of. We do not go into the pain when we feel it, but back off, and allow the body to lead the way.

Know that we are all in it. I have been there, and I continue to listen closely to my body to know what is going to work, and what will not. I would love to share that with you. 

Let's do this together.

Ways of Dealing: When Things Don't Do What We Expect

Hello!

The people here in Marquette, Michigan know I have been away for the last week. I went on a lovely vacation to beautiful Hawaii! The weather was perfect, and I found out I really had no idea what the climate would be like. We stayed in an amazing resort nestled inside a lava desert between 3 volcanoes! Seriously!

What didn't I expect? Well, I didn't expect the sun to be so intense (ahh - so welcome!!!) or for there to be so little internet access. - So if you were wondering where the blog was, I suppose I could say Pele, the volcano, ate my blog post. :)

So here we are, a little late with the post that would normally come to you on Thursday.

What was once a momentary running around the resort trying to figure out why the internet wouldn't work, has now become some ways to deal with the haywire that sometimes happens in life? Yoga is so great!

I thought about this problem and how the feeling of it, initially reminded me of the days when I was working in the schools. I had a few times the technology I needed so much for class would eat it for a day - I used to really get upset, frustrated, stressed about the whole thing. Hours would be taken from me, and probably my attention for my students, by my intense worry over everything.

But then yoga comes along and says - "yep we need to practice what is called asteya (non-stealing)." I could have let my vacation be stolen by worry and fear over what would happen as my blog sat unchanged for a week.

Rainbow Falls, in Hilo, Hawaii

Rainbow Falls, in Hilo, Hawaii

While it really did upset me, (and oh, how I thought of all the wonderful things I could be writing!) I spent a little time thinking - what is the best yoga has to tell me about this? Eventually, I decided that I needed to refrain from stealing my vacation from myself, and to refrain from stealing the rested yoga teacher from my students the week after vacation!

I mediated a lot during my vacation, multiple times a day. I sometimes added extra sessions of meditation just to really sit with the idea of non-stealing in this context. I also did my standard meditation. I worked with all that time to remain steady in my mind. The yoga sutras say that "effort toward steadiness of mind is yoga." I began trust that I could return and write to you from a much better, and well-rested state if I was not practicing the habit of stress during my vacation!

Can you relate? Can you think of times when the circumstances just wouldn't let you care for something important?

All of us have times like this. I like to think of it as training in my practiceWhat good is practicing yoga if it doesn't really do anything for us at moments when it counts? 

When you are frustrated, upset, even worried - spending hours in the worry or stress of it:

1. doesn't make anything change, and

2. doesn't make it any more pleasant for people do work with you to improve or fix whatever it is.

We are better prepared and can take more effective action from a calm, and steady state of mind.

I feel this is true in my own experience. And I wonder if you can think of instances when this was true for you, too.

 

Yoga Thoughts of the Day:

What might I be stealing from myself through my worries, stress or other negative emotions?

How can I be kind to myself and others?

What yoga practice might help me do this?

Yoga Practice of the Day: Meditation (start where you are, or at 2 minutes if you are totally new).

 

Classes start tomorrow. I will write again on Thursday. <3