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Voices of Spira Yogis – Lessons of yoga to help us heal through surgeries

Voices of Spira Yogis.

In a past blog Des, a Spira practitioner, has shared with us her journey as she navigated being a new working mom, and how yoga helped in this transition . Many of you enjoyed reading how others are using their yoga practice to deal with life outside of the yoga studio. We all have difficult moments in our every day; family, work, and basic life stuff can be challenging. It’s helpful to hear each other’s voices to helps us feel less alone in the world. So, I asked a few more practitioners to share their experiences with us.

Keri has been practicing at Spira at least three times a week for over 4 years now. She is a physician, a cat lover, and an amazing friend. She decided to share her adversity facing a serious medical decision and how yoga helped her cope during this tough time.


Keri with Fiona.

Our bodies can tell an intimate story of our lives. The color of our hair and eyes, shape of our face give clues to our ethnic background. Scars can be a road map of prior surgeries, wounds or injuries. As we grow older our bodies morph along with us – challenging us with new limitations both medically and physically. The physical body can speak to us allowing us to experience pain, euphoria, strength and weakness. And then there are our genes, our DNA, that we cannot see but are responsible for much of our physical and mental being.

Scientific technology has become so advanced that it can identify genetic defects that increase an individual’s risk for certain diseases. Physicians can counsel their patients to take the necessary precautions or even procedures to reduce the risk of a disease.

My family was diagnosed in the late 90s with a hereditary disease called Lynch syndrome which predisposes an affected individual to colon and endometrial (uterine) cancer at much younger ages. In females a complete hysterectomy (removal of the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries) can be performed as a risk-reducing surgery. After 10 years of multiple screening tests I decided enough was enough and asked my gynecologist to proceed with a risk-reducing surgical procedure. There were other medical developments that helped drive the decision, my body was giving me all the signs, I finally had to listen.

The real challenge begins after surgery as I recover. They say physicians and nurses make the worst patients. As a practicing OBGYN I’m trying to break the mold but already doing a terrible job. I tried to convince my doctor to let me go home the same day as my surgery.

I’ve rarely missed a day at work and that translates to the yoga studio. For the first time in six years I will be side lined for several weeks. And when I return to the studio I will have to modify my practice until my body returns to its prior conditioning. I will have to practice ahimsa, non-violence, listening to my body when it calls for less and quieting my mind when it criticizes for not being able to do more. Truthfulness, Satya, will hold me accountable to return to physical activity when I am truly ready. I will have to be content and accept the level of my practice at any given moment. Challenges always strengthens us – perhaps in an area we were once weak. The physical limitations will force me to focus on other aspects of my practice – pranayama and meditation. The time off from the physical practice of the asanas will hopefully bring balance to my yoga.

Following the advice I give patients before I take them to surgery every time — we take so many things for granted we forget about the simplest of life’s blessings. Appreciate your practice where it is today because a pose is just a shape that we create for a single moment in time. The practice of yoga changes as we develop and grow both physically and mentally.

Be grateful for your health and well-being – that you’re physically capable of being in a studio. Breathe in the energy of the community at Spira because there really is no other studio that cultivates such a welcoming environment. Try something new or different – something that challenges you and opens your body and mind to a new possibility. It has been said in the studio more than once a yogi is more than welcome to lay in savasana for the entire practice – I may give that a try in the next few weeks.

Namaste. Keri


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