Previously On Martinez Yoga…
As the weekend is upon us, and I reflect upon my classes, I realize that something powerful happened at the beginning of the week. So much so, that it’s imprinted forever in my teaching and in my life.
I teach a Breath-Centered Yoga class at Gilda’s Club NYC. Gilda’s Club supports, educates, and empowers cancer patients and their families. This past Monday I had a new student. She was a bit tardy for the party, but no worries. I helped her get her yoga props: mat, bolster, blanket, blocks. As I was setting her up, I realized that she was having a hard day. Her breathing was labored, she was moving slow and like she was in pain, and I could tell she’s going through chemotherapy. I could smell it coming from her. I know what that smell smells like. Some of you know, some of you may not know, that I had testicular cancer almost ten years ago. I am a clean teen now. I had surgeries and chemo for six months. I know what chemo smells and feels like. My interaction with her brought me back to ten years ago when I was sick. It was a bit of a shock, but then I looked into her eyes and I saw that she needed help. I asked her if there’s anything I should know about her health. She told me she has lung cancer. I told her to take it easy and to take breaks whenever she needed and whenever she wanted. About fifteen to twenty minutes into her practice her breathing became really labored. I came over to her and asked if she was ok. She told me she was in pain, but she didn’t want to stop. I told her to stop and to lie down on a sofa that was in the room. I told her to take care of herself. As she walked over to the sofa and parked it, I told her she’s still participating in the class by just being in the room, and that it might not feel like it, but she’s absorbing the practice by observing and listening. There she stayed for about forty five minutes, for the rest of the class. Her breathing became easier, and she rested.
When the class was over and people were getting their things together, my new friend got up from the sofa and came over to me. I asked her how she felt. She said she felt better. She said wanted to do the class, but she just couldn’t because of the pain due to the surgeries and chemo. I told her, “Pat yourself on the back, friend. You came. You tried. You took care of yourself. Yoga.”
That class was really hard for me. Not so much as a teacher, but as a human being. It brought me back to my pain of the cancer that I had, but I wasn’t stuck on myself and my past hardship. I just didn’t want to see her suffer. I wanted to help take care of her, and the best way that I knew how was to remind her to take care of herself. To me, that’s yoga.
We have to take care of ourselves. We have to care of others with no strings attached when we see pain and suffering. Thank God there’s this wonderful process of yoga to help us get through times like this.
Peace, health, and happiness to you and to all the company you keep.
Photo by Anna Rose