Yoga Bear announces a new essay contest on "Befriending Your Body."

Many people with cancer feel abandoned or betrayed by their body.
Finding out that your body has produced, or is host to, this disease
can take away the instinctive sense of trust and comfort you have with
your own body. The side effects of cancer treatment can make even the
healing process feel like a battle against your body. Even after
treatment, some survivors view their bodies as a potential enemy that
might once again get in the way of their dreams and lives. Or they
feel like they have a new body that is not really theirs--not the body
they knew how to be in.

All of this is a perfectly natural response to cancer, but it can be a
source of tremendous suffering. Repairing your relationship with your
body is as much a part of the healing process as surgery or
chemotherapy. We know, from both research and our community, that yoga
can be an important support to this process.

We want to hear how you are befriending your body. Winners of this
contest will have their essays published on our site and receive a
personalized copy of Yoga Bear adviser Dr. Kelly McGonigal's new book,
Yoga for Pain Relief, which emphasizes befriending your body as the
foundation for any healing and recovery process.

Submit a short essay (100-300 words) on one of the following topics:
1) What do you love about your body? Why are you grateful for your body?

2) What did you do (or what are you going to do) to take care of
yourself and listen to your body's needs? What have you done to
restore trust and acceptance of your body?

To get inspired, you can practice this guided audio relaxation and
body appreciation meditation
from Dr. McGonigal.

Post your response here or email it to by 5 PM PST Mon, December
20. Include your mailing address. Winners will be chosen in time to receive the book as a New Year's gift to yourself!

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Coming to a deep compassion for what my body had endured and accepting that though battered, it had done its best to protect and prolong my life. Massage and meditation had allowed me to get in touch with how my mind had judged my body. With loving intention, I spoke with my body from the essence of my soul. The soul being unscathed
by mortal battles, was a still and quiet place where healing is always available. Through slow and gentle yoga, my physical body recovered. Each day there are more lessons in compassion and acceptance.

Jean Di Carlo-Wagner
You are a terrific spirit Jean. I began my journey through cancer with a great deal of baggage. My husband left me for a japanese girl 15 years younger than I a year before. Doctors believe my cancer developed because of my brokenness. I believe that to be true. I had lost so much weight before I was diagnosed. It has been an incredibly hard journey. The pain of abandonment and cancer was almost to much for me to bare but having my daughters and my mother was the best distraction I could ever have. Even now 3 years later I am not 100% but the universe introduced me to yoga and I still haven't figured out why but my mind, body, and spirit has a peaceful joy and freedom whenever I take yoga. It was tough at first but it's gotten easier. I need it now. I'm breathing deeper, my body is stronger and my spirit is joyfilled. I grow daily because I'm learning about myself and loving myself more and more. Yoga is bringing me closer to the universe and my place in it. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Just after I started Chemo I had a burn accident from a barbecue grill. I had second degree burns on my face and hands. my face was gone and so were my hands. Cedar Sinai had to stop chemo for a while because they were afraid of infection. Today my face and hands are completely healed and my skin is smooth and clear. I believe my body and mind are on the same path. I don’t separate what my body endures from my mind. This vessel is what I must take care of. It’s a consistant effort to do what’s good for the body. For me, cancer was a wake-up call to always do my best for my body, mind, and spirit..
Following any kind of severe illness, it can be difficult to trust one's body again and to feel safe in one's skin. I have rediscovered that trust and have been able to celebrate my body once again. I am incredibly grateful. I love that I am able to touch my toes and able to go for a run. I love that I can once again feel strong. I am grateful for every step that I take, every twist that I find, every graceful pose that I discover through my journey back to health. I am grateful for my new sense of awareness and connection with my body. I am grateful for my heightened consciousness and my ability to honor my body's needs. My yoga practice has been the most important tool in guiding my mind and my body on my path to healing. Yoga has taught me that the end result is not what matters, but that listening, honoring, and accepting where I am today, right now, is what is most important. And in paying attention and accepting what is, I am successful and at peace in my body again.
From the beginning my body and my mind worked together to protect me. I never felt betrayed, lost or abandoned. Together they wrapped themselves around me, fully supporting my chosen path to recovery.

I only came to fully recognize the depth of this gift at my first gentle yoga class. Small pieces began to break away in my chest and rising to the surface. With each new movement, stretch, twist, I became strong enough to face the fear, mortality, sadness and shock. Without this initial protection, my experience would have been a very different journey.

Before, I would have said I appreciated my body and felt comfortable in my skin. I now know I do not take care of my body in a manner befitting the mobility and strength it showed me when I needed it the most.

Today, with each effort to move my body with more agility, life resounds with joy, tears and laughter. Today, with yoga at my side, I'm learning to treat my body with the same respect it's given me.
Joy-- this is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. Thank you for sharing :)
I didn't trust myself; then what happened is my body followed suit. It broke down in strength, and soon after, I had a car accident. I had to decide if I wanted to go down a spiral or practice what I preached (believe it or not, I was teaching yoga). Oddly, pulling back from teaching and only volunteering yoga - and focusing on writing (my day job) was what I needed to befriend my body.
Seeing yoga as not financial or a business for ME was what worked to befriend my body. I learned to see yoga as only something to give and as I did this, I expected nothing back; yet had more back than money could be worth ever.
I befriended my body through yoga by adhering to what yoga is - a union of body, mind and spirit; and realizing it is something different for everyone.
I'm grateful that my body has the ability to bounce back from three bouts with cancer and the associated treatments. Twelve and a half years out of my last treatment, I'm still trying to feel comfortable with my body.

I realized that I need to take care of my body so that will still be able to do the things I want to do with it. Exercise and eating right are easy, but keeping positive and staying optimistic take much more work. Each yoga class, workout, volleyball game, each day, really, I learn something new or put something together that makes sense about my body. Yoga has helped me to realize the differences between the body and the mind. My mind might tell me that I can't hold a pose any longer, or that I shouldn't even attempt a certain pose, but overcoming that has been freeing for my body.

I'm still a work in progress, but a lifetime's worth of fear of recurrence has caused my mind to be overprotective of my body. Trusting and accepting my mind is a large part of trusting and accepting my body. Neither are easy for me, but the work has been well worth the effort. I think yoga IS a competitive activity, but it's an internal competition for me, trying to better myself and come to accept my body.


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