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Interview with Anjali Rao About Breast Cancer, Yoga, and Social Activism

by Nina

When I learned that Anjali Rao, a brand-new friend of mine, had become a social activist after having breast cancer, I expected her for an interview. I think it’s important for us to all to know that social activism can be a natural outcome from practicing yoga. This is the path of Karma Yoga( selfless work ), one of the yoga itineraries for those of us who want to stay committed with the world. Thanks, Anjali for sharing your story with us.

Nina: Anjali, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what your life was like before your breast cancer diagnosis. Anjali: I was 37, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, a mama of two young boys, hectic with “life, ” physically fit and healthy, with proposals of should be going to my corporate job after a year or so of being with my children at home. My gynecologist suggested I do a baseline mammogram because I had mentioned in the medical history questionnaire that I may have a paternal aunt “whos been” some species cancer in India. I wasn’t sure which cancer this was, as she overstepped when I was young, and no one was knew exactly what the original cancer was as it had metastasized by the time of discovery. In the baseline mammogram, there were micro-calcifications, and upon further testing, it was found to be Ductal Carcinoma In Situ( DCIS or what is also called as Stage 0 Cancer ). The cancer cells is to be found in the milk ducts. Nina: What happened when you were diagnosed? How were you feeling? Anjali: I was destroyed and in startle. The stage between the first exam and the final decision was over a reporting period 10 epoches or so, and those were scary. I had two young minors, and I didn’t want to miss out on “peoples lives”, I had absolutely no risk factors: didn’t smoke, imbibe alcohol rarely, was physically fit and otherwise health. How did this happen? It was a dark time. Once I represented the decision to do a bilateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction, I did feel right. I would do anything that is needed to reduce chances of recurrence. Nina: Did yoga help support you during this time? If so, how? And which practices and philosophy particular? Anjali: I had no asana practice during this time. What facilitated me was the chanting tradition that I learned as a child, Bhakthi Yoga( Yoga of Devotion ), and the ardour and assistance of family and friends. Once a epoch, I chanted Vishnu Sahasranama, the 1000 Names of Vishnu. It took around 20 minutes, and I had it memorized by then, helped to calm my psyche. And connect with my seeds and my ancestral practices.Asana came to my life after renovation. I was in the kitchen one day and realized that I couldn’t open a flask of pasta sauce–I had absolutely no upper organization fortitude. I went into my first yoga class and fell in love with it. Asana gave me a connection with my figure. The tradition connected parts of me: physically and emotionally. I practise asana and pranayama to connect with the body and breath, understand where I am in my figure and regulate my nervous system. As a dancer, I cherish move, so I practise vinyasa, and moving and feeling my torso with mindfulness and awareness of the gulp has helped me a lot. I cherish sweating and the exhaust of endorphins at the end, extremely. I do rehearsal reversals, some sort of it every day–Viparita Karani to a Handstand to Prasarita Padottansana–helps bring a sense of calmness. But also the ongoing pattern of svadhyaya, self-study, helps, I know more of who I am now and how my recollection cultivates and reacts to something.It take more than a year to regain strength physically. But more importantly yoga varied the path of my life. I knew I wanted to share this with people who were going through treatment for cancer. After a year of rule, I signed off for the 200 -hour Yoga Teacher Training and then started learning. Nina: What was the treatment and improvement season like for you? Did you have good or bad events with the medical organisation? Anjali: All my doctors were and are compassionate and humane. They were honest and supportive. I was and am grateful for them. I recollect lying on a biopsy sofa, very vulnerable and scared , not knowing what happens. Two harbours were with me. Both of them were survivors of breast cancer, both of them showed me their renovations and scars and were idealistic in the way they talked of lives after a cancer diagnosis. That helped me exceedingly. I also think of them often, and whatever I do now, in service, is my way of carrying this forward. Nina: Did you feel changed by this whole experience? In what methods? Anjali: Absolutely varied. In countless modes and more the essence is perhaps the same, unchanged. I envisage I am more pliable than before. I do know how it feels to be scared, to see my fatality face to face. And because of yoga, I am more self-aware of what can trigger anxiety and what I need to do to take care of myself so I can show up for everyone else. I also know that time on the planet is finite for all of us, so we have to make it count. And this shown in in the kind of work I be selected do( I am grateful that there is a choice here ), which is something that? and to savor the small joys in the time we have. It shown in because I feel I have been given a second lease of life, and I living a life in gratitude. Too, I have a sense of courage. In the past, I may have been more anxious of say anything or doing something that is not pleasing to everyone. Now, I don’t try to please, but be honest and genu. Of course, it’s a work in progress. Nina: How did this experience lead you to become an advocate for health care? Did the path of karma yoga have anything to do with this? Anjali: I had and do have access to good doctors and medical professionals. But numerous in this country don’t have access to medical care or time off from work–if they need that–during and after medication. This is supposedly the most developed country in the world, and this has to change. People of emblazon are affected even more so. I have been a vocal counselor for medical reform politically and, in a more community level, an advocate for sharing our narratives of survivorship honestly. There is such a stigma attached to talking about this even now and especially so in the South Asian community. The more of us that do this with honest vulnerability, the more inclusive we will be. And, yes, of course all of what we do is Karma Yoga. The central precept of the Bhagavad Gita is Nishkama Karma, to abandon the fruits of one’s labor and to surrender to something bigger than oneself. This helps return us perspective and organize our egos. It’s so internalized for me that I cannot separate and pinpoint a specific example. But when the pandemic started, I, along with a duet others, started a volunteer radical for my local vicinity society. We have done all kinds of things, big and large-scale, from discontinuing off disguises and PPE to at-risk groups to medical facilities, to fund raising and helping those impacted by job losses with nutrient accumulation drives, to helping some whose homes were burned down due to the attacks. I do all this without any promise of acceptance or validation. This is Nishkama Karma to me. Nina: What are the source you’re working for these days? And how can other beings help? Anjali: I am a yoga professor now, integrating yoga logic and social justice work, teaching for teacher trainings and intenses for yoga schools. I’m likewise a Members of the security council of HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, whose mission it is to support anyone going through treatment with post-surgical products and services, regardless of financial status. You could gift or volunteer to this organization: hersbreastcancerfoundation.org.Nina: Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers? Anjali: More than ever we need to be resilient to face the immense challenges in our world due to the pandemic. Resilience comes from within and without us. It is the ability to be adaptable and bounce back from hardship and bear. It likewise comes from a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Each of us have knacks and resources that can make a difference or affect someone’s life in a way that is helpful to them, and when we tap into that reservoir, the collective will be stronger.Anjali Rao went to the yoga rug at roughly 40 recovering from surgery from Breast Cancer. She studies, learns, and writes about Yoga philosophy/ autobiography from a socio-political perspective and is deeply interested in the intersectionality of scoot, culture, gender and accessibility of Yoga practices. She has the intention to meet the practice Yoga on and off the matted accessible, helpful and joyful to parties across ages, genders and abilities. She is a part of the teacher training faculty in 200 and 300 hour the programmes in the Bay Area and educates Yoga for Cancer Survivorship for the Stanford Cancer Program. She acts on the Board for HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, a non-profit that helps survivors and those going through treatment regardless of financial status. She is a lifelong student of Indian Classical Dance, a sucker for puppies, beloveds dark chocolate, the ocean and aged trees. For more information, meet yoganjali.me.Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email deg Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook deg To ordering Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being, go to Amazon, Shambhala, Indie Bound or your regional bookstore.

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