Yoga has saved my life before. I had just concluded my third bout with cancer– melanoma once, ovarian twice. I had just had yet another surgery and finished six months of chemotherapy, when I decided I needed to get out the big guns and throw everything I had in my power at this disease.
That meant western AND eastern medicine. That meant praying to Saint Theresa AND doing incantations from a book of spells I picked up in my local occult bookstore. That meant taking Chinese herbs which tasted like burnt rubber tires, several times a week.
That meant giving up red meat and doing weight-bearing exercise. I have always hated exercise and find it boring and exhausting. I LOVE red meat and believe that our teeth and digestive systems were designed to consume such, as carnivores on the food chain. But I was ready to shift the bulk of my diet into the veggie column, and try to get my kicks from munching carrots and kale. Luckily, I love to eat. Everything.
I also started doing yoga in a more serious way. I signed up at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires and found myself padding around an ashram in loose white clothes, taking my cues from a guru named Amrit Desai, eating my meals consciously and in silence (which I loved), waking before dawn (which I hated) I don’t even like to speak before noon, let alone whipping out a yoga mat and plunging into downward-facing dog.
After some years, I had had no tumor recurrence, my health seemed fine, and one day I learned that the big guru at Kripalu –while preaching selective celibacy– had been doing his own version of downward dog with female members of the community. I went to the nearby Friendly’s and immediately ordered a giant cheeseburger.
Years have passed, and I have done yoga only occasionally, somehow being constitutionally incapable of whatever discipline is necessary to maintain this practice. But it has always been clear to me that however infrequently I practice, however flawed the guru, the effect of the postures, the breathing, and the state of mind, body, and spirit engendered– is profound. This is a practice that has never quit on me even though I have deserted it time and time again. It always seems to be there, waiting to connect me to myself.
This has been– for a variety of reasons– a rough summer. And though I do not have cancer, I have been tested on every other front and am, quite frankly, at the end of my rope. So, as a last gasp, I have reached again for yoga. They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
So I got to the Vineyard–yoga central– and googled. I instantly discovered YOGA HAVEN
right up the road (This had to be convenient or I just wouldn’t go) and signed up for a class with one Sherry Sidoti. From the minute she smiled and said, “Hi I’m Sherry!” in a husky, warm voice, I knew I was in the right place. Her class was jammed with all ages and levels, but felt intimate and upbeat. Serious and light at the same time. I’ve gone almost everyday.
I also took a few classes with her husband Rob. He taught a class called “Broga Core”–which I thought was some kind of yoga term, but turned out to explain why so many men were in class that day– and almost sent me running, bro. Rob is equally charismatic, with a deep voice and a fun vibe. And he offered an athletic enough workout to satisfy my college-bound daughter and her best friend one morning. Sherry and Rob may be the cutest yoga couple this side of the Mississippi.
So I continue my yogic journey, and as I head back to the mainland, hope to find my way home, to a yoga teacher nearby–and myself. And no, that is not me in the photo. OM.