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Healing Circle Talks with Tejal Shah

Healing Circle Talks with Tejal Shah

My mother was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer, and it took over our life. We never expected it because we had always believed that cancer was either caused because a person had a poor lifestyle, was under a lot of stress, or because it was hereditary. None of these reasons applied to my mom. There was no history of cancer in her family, and she followed a sadvik diet where she didn’t even include onion or garlic. She didn’t eat outside food, and since we were Jain, we followed the kind of lifestyle that was not harmful to our health.

My journey with cancer

The Dean at TATA Hospital recommended surgery for her treatment. The operation got over, and the doctors said it was a success. But our journey with cancer did not end there. Within a year after the operation, cancer that we thought was cured spread all over her body, and I lost my mother soon after. This incident raised a lot of questions for me. I asked many doctors why my mother got cancer when she was a healthy person with no medical history of cancer.

Searching for answers

For years, I did not have an answer to my questions. In the process of searching for answers, I came across yoga. I never believed in yoga. I was a hardcore gym person, and initially, I decided to give yoga and took a one-month diploma course. That one month completely changed my life. Although I didn’t get many answers about cancer, I gained a lot of knowledge about human life, what our body is made of, and what are the reasons for disease in a body. After that transformative experience, I proceeded to do the degree course and then did an advanced course on Chakra psychology. Through my journey with yoga, I came acrossOnco yoga and the benefits it has for yoga patients. 

How yoga changed my life

One of the characteristics I was proud of myself for is that I am a perfectionist. I would always give more than what was required in any task. The need to maintain the standard and be perfect eventually became the cause of my suffering. The positive stress that motivated me to do a good job soon turned into negative pressure that affected my family and me. Practising yoga and understanding the way our body works has helped me realise that not being perfect is okay. 

What is stress?

There is this common understanding that stress can only be wrong and that it is harmful to be stressed. But stress can also be a motivator. According to yoga, there are two types of stress, positive and negative. The stress that motivates you to do things is positive, and negative stress is a variation of positive stress. There is a difference between expectation and reality.

When the gap is significant, the stress level also increases. Stress turns negative when two factors come into play – expectation and sensitivity. When people have high expectations and can’t fulfil them to their satisfaction, they become really sensitive, leading to negative stress. All the events and actions that happen in one’s life can be directly linked to the stress they are experiencing. 

Cancer, Stress and Yoga

Although stress doesn’t cause cancer, studies show that an increase in stress levels can cause the cancer to progress through the body. The simple news of a diagnosis of cancer is enough to increase stress levels. It is known that stress can not be eliminated entirely, but it can be managed in a healthy way. It is especially necessary for cancer patients to manage stress.

There are seven main chakras in our body, and each chakra is associated with the glands and organs around it. When a person gets stressed, each chakra is affected based on the kind of stress a person goes through. This stress affecting different chakras has the ability to damage the organs around them, causing cancer. 

Yoga also preaches four primary practices that a person needs to perfect and follow in order to reduce their stress levels. They are aahar (food), Vihar (recreation), Aachar (routines) and Vichar (thoughts).

Aahar (food)

The kind of food you have, depending on whether it’s spicy, stale, sweet, etc., will affect your mood and make you restless or lethargic. The amount of food and the time you have them also have an influence on your health and body stress levels.

Vihar (recreation)

Stress and recreation have strong connections. Through vihar or recreational activities, you create habits and interests that engage you so that it can work as a way to manage your stress and keep your mind peaceful.

Aachar (routines) 

Achar basically preaches discipline. Even among people with diseases, having a routine will help form a grounding element in your life and help you overcome your illness.

Vichar (thoughts)

Vichar focuses on the mental health of a person. In yoga, our mind is compared to a restless monkey and needs appropriate training, and practising controlling our thought process and focusing on positive thoughts will significantly improve our health.

My work through therapy

Yogacara therapy for cancer focuses on treating the body and mind through asanas, pranayama and meditation to holistically help in improving the health of the cancer patients and aid in reducing the side effects caused by traditional cancer treatment. Through my expertise in Oncoyoga therapy, Chakra Psychology, Yogaćara Therapy, Yoga Nutrition, and Bio-Energy Therapy, I provide care for cancer patients, survivors & caregivers.

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