How Yoga Helped Me Feel Seen

Photographs from Breast Cancer Portrait Project

I have loved yoga ever since… I stopped hating it.

OK, that was dramatic but let’s be real, it’s not super inviting to head into a swanky studio for your first time with all those bendy humans balancing on their heads… making yourself feel super self-conscious because you can barely touch your knees. At least, that is one of the most (highly paraphrased) reasons people tell me they don’t like yoga.

The day before dx. (08/22/2016)

My yoga beginning was a little different. I started with a class at my hometown Tracy Sports Club. It was me and my step-mom rolling around on the floor in somewhat of a “crack the egg” pose while elderly folks were ‘letting it all go’ all around us. I then began to dabble again in high school PE. It was cool. Slow but cool. But I just couldn’t focus. I was used to playing sports and slowly moving through poses and focusing on my breath was super rough for me. Then off to San Diego State University, practicing at the school gym and something clicked. I actually liked sitting with my own thoughts, focusing on my breath, and noticing the mental, emotional, physical benefits of yoga. From there, I continued to practice on and off and even attended some prenatal classes while pregnant with my first kid.

Fast forward to August of 2016 when I was pregnant with my second child. It was a miserable pregnancy. I was on disability from being so physically ill, several ER visits, new allergies, serious depression and an overall feeling of total crap. And then the cherry on top was a fresh cancer diagnosis. Officially diagnosed with stage 3 triple negative breast cancer at age 32 and 32 weeks pregnant, I began to desperately search for some sort of way to take my health and healing into my own hands. And you guessed it, I found my way back to the yoga studio. Not on purpose though. I was actually looking for a cookie shop to drown my sorrows and walked by a local studio and popped in to see what it was about. Best decision (and cookie) ever made. A regular (gentle) practice helped me physically with fatigue during chemo and range of motion after a double mastectomy and 35 days of radiation. It helped me emotionally and mentally with offering a quiet space to focus on me, my breath, and my healing.

With the Be Well Founders (Heidi Left, Mary Right) at the Be Well 2019 Gala

I was nearly done with active treatment and was navigating a new body and a new normal- taking only very gentle yoga classes when I attended my first day of Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Sol in Yorba Linda, CA. Immediately, I knew that I was right where I needed to be.

The E X A C T same feeling came over me on my first day of Yoga For Cancer Recovery Teacher Training with Be Well. And if you have never fully been able to trust that you were making the right decisions at the right time, let me tell you- IT IS RAD!  Not only did that training help me to feel seen, understood, and educated about my own body but it also lit a serious fire under my butt to start manifesting and working towards doing my part to bring the Be Well knowledge and goodness to our amazing C Community.

Be Well classes are designed specifically for cancer survivors and integrate mindful yoga, deep relaxation, visualization, and breathing techniques – all in a compassionate and supportive environment.  And the community that is cultivated within these classes is life changing.  But you know, the GOOD kind of life changing.  With classes now available via the interwebs (AKA Zoom), I have been able to connect with survivors all over which is so exciting.  Because even with so much distance between us, it’s nice to be in a safe space with people who truly ‘get it’. – Jessica Filloon

For more stories about the benefits of yoga, click here.

Based out of California, the Be Well Yoga for Cancer Recovery Program was created to improve the lives of individuals living with cancer. The program is open, accessible, and beneficial for anyone whose life has been forever changed by cancer. Be Well Yoga for Cancer Recovery is a specialized yoga methodology that is tailored to address the specific physical and emotional needs left by cancer and its treatments. All Be Well classes are led by certified yoga teachers who have completed the 55-hour Be Well Yoga for Cancer Recovery Teacher Training Program. No prior yoga experience is necessary. Virtual classes are donation-based, pay-as-you-can, and all are welcome regardless of ability to pay.

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