When Your Stronger Than You Think… And Why Yoga

two womenLast August, Modo featured me in a blog post for Social Worker Awareness Month. I spoke about how yoga helped me manage my stress at work. What I failed to mention in that blog was that I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I am convinced my yoga practice literally saved my life.

I first realized something was wrong during a cobra pose almost a year ago. Over the years, my yoga practice has made me so aware of my body that I intuitively knew something was wrong. It was during this time, I realized Modo was so much more than yoga to me. It was always a huge part of my life but now it became an invaluable outlet for all my fears and anxieties. It helped me stay positive and smile when there were days I definitely wasn’t smiling on the outside. After every class, I felt mentally stronger and it helped me to visualize my fears melting away with every drop of sweat. My yoga practice has also recently taught me the necessity of reaching out to people and accepting support which isn’t something that comes easy to me. So much of this support I found came from my family, friends, colleagues and the Modo community.

Being a part of the Modo community assisted me in finding the peace in my heart and the strength that I needed to fight for my life. It’s unusual to say, but I think having breast cancer was one of the hardest things I’ve experienced but also one of best things to ever happen to me. I was committed from the moment I was diagnosed to have an open dialogue with my family, friends and colleagues about my fears and anxieties. I strongly believe we connect with each other through sharing our stories and our personal struggles, and for this reason I decided to share my story in this blog.

In my previous blog with Modo, I admitted to having a very type A personality and at times living my life on autopilot. I still catch myself making to do lists in savasana, but I’m trying to be more present in everything I do and to let go! I have found a renewed love and respect for my yoga practice and the way of life this practice has gifted me. I am full of gratitude for everything it has taught me and the community of support, which has surrounded me.

For a moment last August I thought my life was over. Now, I realize it has just begun and everyday is a new beginning to start again. I hope others that find themselves on a similar path as I did when I was 40 years old are lucky enough to have the support which was extended to me. Modo Hamilton has generously dedicated February’s karma charity to the YWCA Hamilton Encore Program. The Encore Program is FREE and specifically designed for women who have experienced breast cancer. Through gentle exercise, relaxation, peer support and information sharing it helps women with the after-effects of breast cancer surgery and treatment. I feel so fortunate to be participating in this program in the spring. I hope by sharing my story it inspires you to support this incredible program so other women like me can have this same opportunity.

For more information or general inquiries about the Encore program contact Anne Marie Collingwood, YWCA Hamilton Encore Coordinator T 905.522.9922 ext. 158 acollingwood@ywcahamilton.org

(Originally published February 5, 2018)