On Page 210, Sudha addresses the question “How did you get into Yoga?
Life is full of surprises. An Oncology Nurse at a large Boston hospital in 1985, joining the Kripalu Staff was the farthest thing from my mind. But I had been diagnosed with breast cancer the year before, and that catalyzed a willingness to make some major changes in my life. I had also been studying and practicing complementary healing modalities, such as Therapeutic Touch, to help patients recover from the rigors of cancer treatments and was impressed with the results. When I began my own treatments, I explored additional ways to help me deal with the side effects. I looked for practitioners who knew the value of treating more than just my body. Eventually, I took a deep breath and set out for Kripalu Center and what I thought would be a two-month stay.
Living at Kripalu, my eyes and my body discovered the new world of healing and nurturing possibilities I was looking for. In yoga classes, I found that I was not only strengthening my body, I was also learning how to relax and be present to the sensations and feelings that came up. The compassionate mindfulness I practiced on my mat began to integrate into other areas of my life. As I peeled away layers of fear, I started unlocking doors to parts of myself previously unknown. My yoga and meditation practice became the ground from which I could overhaul some old and limiting belief systems. Living this healthy lifestyle, I felt great. My six-month medical check ups said I was doing great too.
My story would be so much simpler if I could close on that high note. Little did I know that another shocker was on its way. But this time, when I needed more cancer treatments, I had the tools of my practices and wonderful community support to help me face the challenges and uncertainties. As anyone who has been there can attest, navigating a major health challenge is no small feat. For me, these challenges were mixed with a heavy dose of grace. By facing death, I opened to life. I am well again. And I know that life offers no guarantees. This is true for all of us, of course, but with a life threatening diagnosis that truth becomes more compelling.
As a yoga teacher, workshop leader, and Lifestyle Coach for the past 20 years, I have worked with hundreds of people facing serious health conditions. When asked what has been most powerful in my healing journey, I say there are a number of key practices and principles. It’s important to breathe and stay present in your body. It’s equally important to treat yourself with compassion, not more aggression, and to quiet the inner critic. Don’t give into the temptation everyone feels to roll over and give up. Go to your edge. Remember that you are something more than your body, and learn to savor the good moments. There is no one right way when it comes to healing. Your journey will be different than anyone else’s and that's okay. These can sound like platitudes, but put into practice, they work. They make a difference. They helped me get my life back.
As a result of all I’ve been through, I have grown and changed. I’m more connected to myself. I have learned that identifying with my fears and limitations makes my world small and cramped. Being grateful for all the little joys that occur daily inspires me and leaves me capable of great happiness. When negative thought forms arise, as they do, they don’t have as much strength as they once did. Someone recently gave me a button that said, "This is not just a body, it’s an adventure." I am grateful to have found my yoga and meditation practices. They have been such key players in helping me navigate my particular adventure.