Yoga vs Cancer
The Second Annual Yoga To Conquer Cancer Event
The second annual Yoga To Conquer Cancer event is being held at Branksome Hall on Sunday May 6. Consisting of a light breakfast, two yoga and meditation classes, lunch and more in a beautiful setting, proceeds from the event benefit the fantastic work being done by the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Last year we interviewed one of the class leaders (and Tonic contributor) Sari Nisker Fox. This year we’re asking four questions of cancer survivor and event supporter, Jane Leckey about her personal connection to yoga:
How did you come to your yoga practice? I started yoga four years ago, at the age of 47, when a studio opened in my neighbourhood. My very first class was Ashtanga. Clearly I had no idea what I’d signed up for – but I was hooked.
What is your yoga practice? My practice is very fluid. It’s Vinyasa-based but with the occasional Yin or Hatha pose thrown in for good measure. Since my diagnosis, I’ve also started doing some Restorative yoga, which helps ensure my practice remains balanced. As much as I love Ashtanga, which is a very rigorous and demanding practice, I enjoy variety even more. The Ashtanga purists reading this article will cringe but I like to mix things up. That way I can really listen to what my body is saying on a given day.
How has your practice helped you cope with your illness? Yoga helped me stay grounded during my treatment. It enabled me to find calm at a time when I was surrounded by so much chaos. The simple act of breathing and stretching enabled me to connect with my body and tap into my inner store of courage and resilience. I am a firm believer in Western medicine. I have nothing but respect, affection and gratitude for my entire treatment team at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. They are the best of the best – skilled, compassionate and patient-focused. To give myself the best possible outcome, I’ve chosen to combine conventional cancer treatments – surgery, radiation, hormone therapy – with more holistic options, which include yoga, energy work and massage. In my opinion, the two systems complement each other. I’m the girl who takes tamoxifen (a drug that reduces the risk of recurrence for some types of breast cancer) as well as things like chaga and bee pollen. I’ve also found great healing through music, particularly Native American flute.
Now that you're recovered, where do you see your practice going in the future? I expect my practice will remain fluid. There was a time when I pushed very hard, like most Ashtangis. Now, however, I take a more balanced approach. I still push hard, but I do so with compassion for what my body, mind and spirit have endured. In recent days I’ve also tried acro yoga which is a ton of fun!
Jane Leckey is a two-time cancer survivor, passionate supporter of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and avid yogini whose day job is as a communications advisor in the energy sector. For more information about Yoga To Conquer Cancer visit yoga2cc.ca