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How yoga taught me to cope with my Mum’s cancer fight

Why I started doing yoga? It was a journey of fitness for both mind and body...

By Sonal Tiwari, Assistant Features Editor

Waking up at 6am was not my cup of tea. But I watched my mother wake up at 4am every morning to practise yoga. This was in 1997. But now, things have changed. I wake up at 6am.

My first experience with yoga was when I was 8 years-old. We had a yoga teacher come home to teach my mother, who was only starting her yoga journey. Little did she know yoga would be life transforming or even saving for her?

I was an athlete back in school and yoga always intrigued me, also because I watched my mother practise, so closely. The first asana (an asana is a body posture, originally and still a general term for a sitting meditation pose) my Mum taught me was vrikshasana or the tree pose. I loved doing it. Reason, it required me to balance on one leg, which required immense focus.

From then on, I would try to sneak into my mother’s yoga session and ask her to help me try new asanas. And just like that, I started practising yoga on and off. I moved to Mumbai for work and every long distance phone call with Mum was accompanied by a soft reminder to practise yoga, especially because I had started gaining weight.

I joined a rather expensive Ashtanga yoga class, but was pretty soon intimidated by the celebrities who were part of the students. And within a month gave up and decided to practise on my own, which, of course, didn’t happen though. I would practise the few asanas mum taught me, that’s about it.

It was in the year 2017 when I went to pursue my masters abroad that I witnessed the true popularity of yoga, first hand. And decided to catch-up on my practice.

Moving back to India in 2019, I continued learning from mum until right before the pandemic. In February 2020, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our world was about to change. It was detected at the right time, and within a weak she was operated upon and within 21 days started with chemotherapy. It was scary.

We did not know what would happen, but we knew it was a fight, a bigger one for mum. The doctors were happy she was a yoga practitioner.

One and half years later I am a certified yoga trainer. There are good and bad days, some hectic and others more tiring but seeing my mum fight, I’ve learnt to keep going, just like yoga.