Cancer Rejuvenation Program; My journey to Kaivalyadhama India, to participate in the research & training of this ground breaking program of Healing Yoga for Cancer Care and Chronic Illness
Namaste Divine Yogis,
Before I left for India, I mention how I was going to keep a blog of my experience here at Kaivalyadhama. It has been 40 days since my arrival and honestly I have not had the time to sit and write. Today is my first day since I have settled here that I have had any
time to just sit without a schedule and BE.
The program is incredible. Much more than I was hoping for and expecting. I am so grateful to be here and to be a part of this journey with Lee (Founder/Developer from Toronto), Marie (fellow Yoga Therapist from Sweden, and student of Kdham) and Neeraj (Kdham Resident Yoga Therapist). Lee, Marie and Neeraj are a solid team of truly skilled professionals in Yoga Therapy, all who have dedicated their lives to helping those find their ability to heal. I am honoured to have been invited and to be a member of their team. What is lovely is that we all bring something different to the table, which make our collaborations very rich in diversity and experience and resources.
As well, I am grateful to be with all who have participated in the Chronic Cures Program along side with me from February 14- March 3. What an experience! And to now be on the other-side as a teacher to those who are participating in the Cancer Rejuvenation Program, both experiences have been truly enriching and it is such a lovely experience to have a shared learning towards our individual growth and development. Teacher & student both learning from one another… we are on this journey together.
As a client in the Chronic Cures Program, I didn’t think I would have much to work on, aside from the obvious for me of still processing the grief that I feel since my fathers passing. As for the other participants for the Chronic Cures program, there were
individuals here with a number of different pathologies and psychosomatic disorders and all from different walks of life. We had a Lawyer, IT / World Marketing Specialist, Yoga Instructor, Customer Service Representative, Retired Dancer, Retired Microbiologist, and a School Teacher. Two of us were practitioner’s of yoga since 2007, one client tried yoga on a few occasions and the rest were all completely new to yoga and never before stepped on a
mat. They presented with chronic back pain, chronic neck and shoulder pain, neurological dysfunction and pain throughout the body, weight loss challenges & grief, chronic migraines, grief, and planter fasciitis.
The program consist of 6 days of a full schedule starting at 6:45 am
and ending at 9pm Monday-Saturday for 21 days.
Asana practice is gentle and therapeutic with the focus on breath awareness. I felt completely at home, because they were teaching essentially the same practice I teach for my morning class back home, (except I use straps and props). The yoga practice at Kavialyadham follows the ancient texts and they do not teach any yogic practice that is not 500 years or older. They stay very close to the practices in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika – and other ancient text as the Yoga Sutras. I love this aspect of the program. They believe as I do, that asana is to be comfortable and allow for breath and body awareness. So this was very comforting to be in a place that teaches asana in a way that truly resonates with me.
We performed and practiced Pranayama in a way that I have not learned nor practiced. They’re teaching in a very scientific based manner and as a practitioner you gain a full knowledge as to ‘what’ you are doing, ‘how’ it is helping, and ‘how’ to do it correctly to achieve full benefit on how to manage your breath and the ‘why’s’. It is a fantastic process of learning, practicing and doing.
The meditations we did each day were so heart healing. This is where we began to slowly open up our awareness. I lost myself completely on a few occasion’s… experiencing Dhyana and even Samadhi. I was not able to move or awake… I was ‘Nowhere’, nor here or there. It has been some time that in a meditation, I was able to reach this place.
We did mantra meditations, breath awareness; however, most of the practices were specifically focused on healing, forgiveness, gratitude. All the meditations were easy for anyone to do. The main focus was on being comfortable. We had some individuals in the group seated in chairs, or on mats, cushions, and in any seated meditative pose. It was beautiful to witness the progression of the group, and to see first timers on the meditation cushion witness themselves and notice that they are not their pain. This was very Powerful and Transforming.
The Healing Powers of Yoga Nidra
As Divinity Studio students know, I am a lover of Yoga Nidra. I teach it regularly at the studio and believe in its ability to allow for deep rest, to stimulate the parasympathetic system, and to release deep tensions in the body. The practice we may do at the studio
once per week is only the beginning. And even as a weekly practice, it has healing benefits. But, I would say that it is like dipping your toe in the water. Now, lets take that a few steps
further and practice it daily? For 3 weeks! This is walking in to the water… Chest Deep.
Using the words ‘healing, rejuvenating, relaxing…’ does not fully explain what one experiences when practicing Yoga Nidra on a daily basis. Yoga Nidra connects to the subconscious mind. When looking at the Koshas (5 Layers of the Body), we are working on
the Intellect level and Mind level of the body. Intellect is our Belief Systems and Minds is our thoughts, feelings, and our reaction/response.
Yoga Nidra, works on these two levels of both conscious mind and subconscious mind/intellect. When practiced daily… you can see the shift in ones consciousness and their knowing, that they are not their thoughts and they have the power to control how they choose to perceive the world – when a person begins to witness their ability to choose whether they perceive their world from a place of Love or Fear, they begin to tap into their ability to Heal Themselves.
Bhakti Yoga, is the practice of Love and Devotion. This is a beautiful practice of community and Divine Love in its full expression. Each week we chant different mantras and each one
evokes emotions that may be heart opening, grounding and healing, prayer and surrender, oneness and connection, joy, smiles and even tears. The energy you feel when you chant is like playing the strings of your soul. Each chord, each vibrations begins to resonate so deeply within that it creates a direct connection to the Divine.
Summary of My Personal Experience
As a Client in the Chronic Cures Program I knew that I had some unresolved grief as a result of my father’s passing last July. In one year I put on 40 pounds in weight gain. This is the most my body has ever weighed, and I know that the weight gain was
emotionally driven. My body is very sensitive to stress and as a result too, my menstrual cycle ceased for several months. This started last January when my father’s health began to decline. I have been living in a state of Chronic Stress for over a year and it caused my body to shut down, as the body does naturally when it feels it need to go into protection mode.
The problem with Chronic Stress, is that the protection mode does not shut off.
The bodies internal systems react to this, stress hormones are being released constantly, immune system is decreased, heart rate and pressure is elevated and coverts sugar into fat and then storing it for the emergency, sleep is compromised and you are taxing your adrenals by running on empty. I have been living like this for a year or longer. Probably since I was in India last time and received the news of my father being diagnosed with Lung Cancer. I was coping pretty well for the most part and I think to myself what shape would I have been in if I didn’t have yoga. Even with yoga, I was still functioning in a state of chronic stress. Needless to say, I needed this program and I was over joyed that I was required to experience it as a participant to witness it’s effects.
I was holding so much tension and grief in my body, after my flights from Toronto to Mumbai, I went from being able to touch my toes to only reaching my knees. My body locked up from my lower back to my feet. My calf muscles were like rocks. And thankfully we were receiving daily massages and Naturopathy treatments to aid in the bodies natural detoxification process, help to release emotions held in the body and to help release tension and stress. It worked wonders.
Asana practice was gentle and this is exactly what I needed. My body was stiff and I felt like a beginner all over again. And so I welcomed the practice as a beginner. I left any ego at the door and walked in to asana hall with an open mind and a body that needed
I wrote in my journal daily and kept tract of what I was experiencing and witnessing in my body, mind, emotions and on a spiritual level any changes, openings and blockages or challenges. Journalling is a great tool to understanding and building awareness of yourself and your experiences. I loved the whole process of writing my thoughts and feelings on paper. It helps me to see what is going on inside. And it is a wonderful way to get things out, to release so you are not holding on to what no longer serves you. Let It Go!
Meditations and Yoga Nidra is where I truly did the work. In Meditation we did a Forgiveness exercise and it was amazing to see what was coming to surface… people who I thought I forgave years ago were coming forward for me to forgive, but the one I needed
to forgive the most was myself. This was incredibly healing. It is amazing to see what pressures we place on ourselves and we need to remember to be compassionate to ourselves First. So forgive others, and forgive yourself and send love and kindness
and healing light to yourself and those around you. Love, Love, Love.
Yoga Nidra was a powerful tool for me to unlock some subconscious core belief statements that I had about myself. These statements we are conditioned with from a young age and
may not even be aware that they exist. It is these core beliefs that stand in our way from achieving our goals or following our hearts desires, maybe we self sabotage ourselves in some ways. And through Yoga Nidra, I was able to dismantle these belief statements, and resolve some old hurts and come to terms with my inner pain and grief. I was able to LET GO, Resolve and be able to hold both light and dark, heaviness and lightness, warm and cold. I was able to hold both and be a peace with it… just witnessing. It
was a beautiful resolve.
I walked into this program having some personal anxiety and feelings of depression. As much as I was excited to be here in India, on a personal note there was an underlying sadness that I have been carrying and I felt stuck in my pain and grief and was
disconnected from myself on some levels.
I completed the program feeling light, at peace and ease with my feelings of my fathers passing. I was able to let go of any guilt I was feeling and forgave myself, understanding that I did what I was able to do. I gave myself permission to stop shouldering the
responsibility. I feel the sense of acceptance of where I am right now, and I fully Love myself as I am, in this body that I have today. I feel connected to myself again. It was like becoming reacquainted with a old friend. It has been a long time since I have looked at
myself and truly felt the beauty of my soul inside and out. And I have this program to thank. Lee and Marie and Neeraj provide the tools, they hold the space, and I was the one who did the work.
Believe, Release, Surrender, Forgive, Trust, Gratitude, Acceptance
Om Namah Shivaya ~ Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om!