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Yoga, a link to a new life after cancer?
by Antonio Sausys


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“The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands, but seeing with new eyes"  Marcel Proust


While directing one pose at my Yoga for Cancer class, I asked the women to place their breast in front of their forearms, close to the shoulders. In response, one of the students yelled from the back of the room, “That’s in case you have them!”


No practice was possible for a while for we were all laughing hard and soundly. Where else could you hear a statement like that and hear a chorus of laughter? There may be other places, yet this class was serving as a safe, respectful and humorous environment allowing for that kind of interaction. I felt inspired to share more of the knowledge of yoga with cancer patients as a result of the successful experience that my father had with creative visualization, a western version of a 6,000 year-old yoga technique, to heal from lung cancer.


Later on, I was invited to join a California nonprofit association that offers an innovative approach to rehab that tailors its programs to cancer patients, providing different physical exercise regimens at a gym facility. I developed the Yoga for Cancer program and led free groups for the association receiving individuals from the Oncology Departments at Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Marin Cancer Institute and UCSF. I’m presently bringing my program to Bennett Cancer Center, The Health and Fitness Institute of Stanford Hospital and Yale University in Connecticut.


My program draws elements from Yoga and Psychotherapy to integrate techniques, thoughtful insights and, why not, humor, in a very dynamic class intended to provide practitioners with tools to better understand and cope with life with cancer. It is designed to accept all types of Cancer and all levels of experience and rather than presenting random series, the class features the use of specific series and techniques to accomplish particular goals. The program also emphasizes the relationship between the physical techniques and their mental and spiritual correlates to empower those with cancer towards personal realization.


The motto for our class is a simple one: “The spirit can’t have cancer.” This means that the closer you are to your spirit, the more possibilities you generate to heal or to feel well when physical healing is not possible; an important concept for those facing a life-threatening illness. In my opinion, we all have a life-threatening illness: it’s called “life!” Cancer patients just happen to be more aware of the finitude of our life, and can see that threat as more real. The immediate consequence of such an outlook is that we are invited to value each moment more, select our thoughts more carefully and identify our commitments to those things we don’t want, so that we can un-do them. As a result, we become conscious. That is precisely the aim of Yoga. The difference is that cancer patients are serious students and, more importantly, use the techniques not only in class, but in their own home, when they truly need them. Most yoga students think that practice happens Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6:00 to 7:00. Cancer patients know that life is our practice.


Our classes include asana, mental exercises and meditation. The asanas are specially intended to address some of the consequences of cancer itself or the secondary effects of cancer treatment, that oftentimes are worse than the symptoms of the cancer itself. The mental techniques (such as Sankalpa, meaning “Resolve”) are there to reprogram the mind towards a conscious identification of those negative patterns of thinking that might affect our ability to heal from the disease. Meditation is the realm that brings about a deeper contact with our Spirit, a way of calming the mind and the body so that what is not mind nor body can become more obvious.


One of the main difficulties with the Western model of medicine is that it is symptom-oriented. A sick kidney is just that, a sick kidney. The reality validated by the Yogic view, is that the kidney is part of a being that has a mind that affects it and a spirit that gives reason to it. It cleans the blood but it also holds aspects related to how we “deal” with the garbage within us and it encompasses all the knowledge regarding purification. The tremendous healing power of yoga comes from its deep respect for the unity that we are. We are a body, a mind and a spirit together, exquisitely integrated in such way that there is no real possibility of doing anything with just one of them.


I trust that the more the therapeutic field acknowledges this interrelationship, the more powerful it will become, and the better will serve the individual as a whole getting closer and closer to the wisdom of Yoga.



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About the Author


Antonio Sausys, MA, is a somatic health practitioner and yoga instructor specializing in one-on-one yoga therapy for people with chronic and acute medical conditions and emotional imbalances.

During his career, Antonio (BA Psychology, MA Body-Oriented Psychotherapy) discovered a key correlation between modern body-oriented psychotherapy and ancient yogic teachings, integrating the best practices from both worlds. He applies specific yogic applications working with individuals to create a “Yoga Sadhana”. This is a specific and personalized yogic routine that best serves the individuals’ needs and abilities, integrating mind, body and spirit to fully embrace the experience of life.


He studied with Yoga masters and teachers such as Indra Devi, Swami Shankaradevananda, Swami Ekananda, Babashi Singh, Ram Dass, Swami Mairtreyananda and Larry Payne. He has continued his professional development with training in Foot Reflexology, Swedish Therapeutic Massage, the Degriefing Process and Reiki.


To visit Antonio's website please visit http://www.satyoga.com


You can contact Antonio at: antonio@satyoga.com




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