A Visit to the Cancer Resource Center’s Gentle Yoga Class
Siona Stone, Writing Intern
People look forward to Tuesdays for many reasons. Tuesday means that Monday is over, but it’s still too early to plan for the weekend or worry about Friday deadlines. Ithaca Tuesdays in particular are especially beautiful, because on Tuesday mornings there is a yoga class offered through the Cancer Resource Center at Island Health & Fitness.
I was privileged enough to attend one of these classes, and as a yogi myself, I was already extremely excited. As I climbed the winding staircase up to the top floor of the fitness center, I looked around at all the other people working through their own fitness practices. They seemed to be competing against themselves, focusing on how they hoped to look after the workout was over.
Once I walked into the yoga room, the entire atmosphere changed. I could still hear some distant bumping of the bass from the floor below us. However, the energy in this yoga room was soft, calming, and it felt like a very safe space.
Nick Boyar, the instructor, welcomed me with warmth and helped me set up my yoga mat and gave me a blanket for extra comfort. Nick specializes in fitness, pain relief, stress management, and spiritual discovery. All of that was evident by the way he guided us through the class. We did some simple stretches and poses, but the main focus of the class was meditation and staying in the present moment. Any trigger that came into our minds we were to acknowledge the existence of the thought, accept it, and let it go. Instead of trying to push the pain away or feeling guilty that is was inside us, we were asked to explore it and give it warmth.
Nick also led us through a meditation where we were to visualize what he was saying. An example of this would be that he had us picture the ocean and imagine ourselves there in the water. After the meditation was complete, he had us go around in a circle and share what the experience was like for each of us. This particular class had seven people, so everyone was given a decent amount of time to talk about what worked for them, and what they hoped to improve. Someone mentioned how happy she was that Nick mentioned the ocean because she grew up by the sea, and she had the chance to take herself back. Others had trouble focusing, and Nick responded to each person individually, giving them specific advice and insight on how they could grow and improve their practice. After class had finished, everyone picked up their mats and helped put the blankets away. Some of the participants hugged each other and walked out together.
When I asked participants what they thought about their experience attending these classes, Diann la Point shared with me a very beautiful message. “I have been attending the yoga classes for almost two years and I love them! I enjoy the physical part because it increases my balance and flexibility. I enjoy the meditation portion because it relaxes me and helps me find the peace and strength I need to be a survivor! It helps me to accept what IS, and not waste time worrying about what isn’t!” Diann’s way of describing what this yoga class has meant to her really shows exactly how much magic and love fills this yoga class every Tuesday morning.
Without a doubt, there was a strong sense of strength in this community that Nick built for his class in just over an hour. It was a really lovely way for me to start my day, and thanks to the Cancer Resource Center, this class was another beautiful reason to look forward to Tuesdays.