When It Comes to Learning Yoga During Cancer, What Does It Mean to “Start Where You Are?”

Start where you are. This is something I say often when I’m talking about yoga and meditation. But what does it mean, and how do you do it? 

If you are living with the challenges of cancer or are supporting someone who is, starting where you are is an important mindset to adopt and embrace as you begin learning yoga.

At its core, starting where you are is all about taking stock of how you feel right now, being patient with your progress, and embracing the journey with openness and kindness. 

Here are a few ways to think about applying it in your own life...

  # 1: View every day as a new beginning

I know this sounds a little unoriginal, but when it comes to yoga, it is really important to pay attention to how you feel as you begin your practice each day and then ask yourself:

  • What does my body need today?
  • What would nourish me the most?
  • Do I feel ready to try something new or not?

If you aren’t feeling well, this isn’t a way to give yourself an “out.” Rather, it’s a way to change the plan if needed.

For example, if nausea has been taxing your energy all day, resting for 5 minutes in Child’s Pose instead of doing a full 30-minute yoga class may be just what you need. That is still doing yoga.

On the other hand, if you feel particularly strong and balanced one day, perhaps that is the day to begin learning tree pose.

You will know what your body needs best. Trust that.

 # 2: Remember that nobody knows how to do yoga when they first start

Yoga is a practice that everyone learns and grows with as they keep trying. It takes time and commitment.

One of the beautiful things about yoga is that it is a personal journey. It’s about exploring your own body and mind and deciding what is right for you.

Everyone’s journey with it is unique. There is no right or wrong way for your practice to unfold. If you commit to the process, the poses and the breathing techniques will quickly become second nature to you.

 # 3: Accept that you’re probably not as flexible or as strong as you’d like to be today

With the exception of people who start doing yoga after years of dance, nobody – AND I MEAN NOBODY – has the flexibility and strength to jump right into a long yoga practice. But here is something that is true for everyone.

If you commit to doing yoga with some regularity, you are guaranteed to become stronger and more flexible. 

Starting where you encourages you to acknowledge and accept your present levels of flexibility, strength, and mindfulness without feeling the need to be at a certain level or achieve specific results right away. Ahhh.  Doesn’t that feel good? :)

This leads me to my final suggestion for today…

# 4: STOP Judging Yourself or Comparing Yourself to Others 

Yoga is all about being kind and patient with yourself. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s all the more reason to do more yoga! Starting where you are is about letting go of the expectations and preconceived notions about what your yoga practice “should” look like. Focus on your own growth and your own individual progress. Notice how you feel. 

Most importantly, recognize that you are making progress every time you step on the mat. 

If you would like to learn more, click the picture below to receive our FREE Step-by-Step Guide for Starting Yoga After Your Cancer Diagnosis.