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Published On: Mon, Mar 3rd, 2014

Why Yoga? And Why Cancer’s Not The End Of The Road

1964272_10202265062086765_1646168930_nOut of curiosity today, I Googled “do latinas do yoga”. A long list of porn sites came up, no joke. That says a lot right there. 

Just days ago, I open my new yoga studio, Yoga Divina, in Altadena (the Altadena in Southern California right next to Pasadena).  I’ve been teaching yoga for years but this is my first public studio, where anyone can walk in, and I hope they do! I intend to bust open the stereotypes of who should be doing yoga.  Read the press release here: http://bitly.com/YogaDivinaMar1.

I grew up in a Latino home in Pasadena, but one that barely spoke Spanish because “This is America; we speak English.” So I was the cousin asking, “Vamos al store?” and “Donde estan mi shoes?” I was the little hippie girl with flowers in my hair, breathing, stretching and laughing. I was already a yogi, but I was the only one. No one in my family at the time would have been caught alive or dead in an Om.

My earliest recollection of yoga was at age 18. I picked up some standard poses from a neighbor or osmosis or who knows what, but I was doing yoga regularly and loving it. Some years later, in 1999, I found Yoga Zone on TV in New York and then I was officially hooked! Then came a divorce and 9/11; things got crazy. I lost a lot of friends. Yoga kept me sane and grounded. From all I’d witnessed, things around the world could only go to hell in a handbasket. My success with yoga inspired me to teach others the practice, my style, described here: http://bit.ly/RachelYogaDivina.

As I grew older, the Latina in me was asking to come out of my gringa closet. I needed to immerse myself in Spanish, so I went to Central America, first Costa Rica, then Panama, teaching yoga all the way! My clients were all shapes and sizes, pregnant, healthy, seriously ill (cancer, MS, fibromyalgia, obesity, asthma, diabetes), injured, senior, or just stressed. I had a yoga retreat on my mind. Nothing could stop me, not even a Panama doctor who told me, “I am a doctor and I am Catholic, and we do not do yoga here.”

I taught yoga in perfect Spanglish, and my clients learned that yoga didn’t have to be scary, new agey, or for someone thinner or more flexible. It was for them!

In 2012, right about the time I was going to open a larger yoga studio in Panama, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What? My clients were cancer patients; I wasn’t one myself! Oh, but I suddenly was. So I returned home to Pasadena for a second opinion, and for mi mamá. Forget the yoga studio dream. All I wanted was healing, hugs, love and support.

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I received fantastic treatment at nearby City of Hope and was trying to do all the things the doctors told me to do: relax, don’t stress, do yoga, eat well. Of course I could practice yoga alone, but I wanted an excuse to get out of the house other than a doctor’s appointment. Well, I couldn’t afford yoga at $18-20/class 2-3 times/week, and I realized I wasn’t alone. How many people had no access to yoga? Could I fix that? Why not! This led me to…how many people had no access to yoga in Spanish? Hey, I could fix that, too! Now my Spanish isn’t the best, pero mano…come on…it’s better than NO yoga in Spanish! I heard things like, “Mi doctor me dijo que trataré alternativas diferentes, pero no sé nada de yoga” and “¿Dónde hay yoga en español?” My dream of a new yoga studio was on fire, even more brilliant than before. I soon found a fantastic location in Altadena, I’ve already got clients and my grand opening is March 1…and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for…cancer?!

A friend and cancer survivor told me, “There’s a silver lining to cancer.” Well, I say, forget silver, my lining is platinum and diamond-laced! Sparkles everywhere! I believe everything happens for a reason. Cancer was God’s way of getting me back home to help and teach others that we can have any physical or emotional challenge, and we can thrive, and help others get through it, too.

My gift to you and everyone is what’s possible through yoga. You don’t have to be Beyoncé, Madonna, Tara Stiles, or Russell Brand to do it (and definitely not a porn star, hello)! Most important is just to have a good time stretching, breathing and moving!

If you have never tried yoga, are dealing with health concerns, or are intimidated by the images you see of mainstream yoga, and are in the Los Angeles area, come to Yoga Divina. We are an approachable, accessible, and affordable yoga studio proving EVEN YOU can do yoga. Grand opening is March 1 from 12pm-4pm:  studio tour, raffles, prizes, free yoga, and an unveiling of the Yoga Divina Divine & Conquer Mobile. Also I’ll be gifting every attendee the Yoga Divina Altadena Community Discount Card, good for purchases at local small businesses. If you’re not in town, visit my website, www.yogadivina.com, sign up for my newsletter, find out more about yoga, get on my mailing list for a chance to win yoga goodies and to be informed when I open a Yoga Divina near you.

Lastly, if you’re dealing with anything heavy like cancer or anything that’s rocked your world in the worst way, I hope you remember my story and the words of a great Maori Proverb “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”

10000012_10202265062166767_1070459843_nAbout Rachel Divine

Yoga Divina Founder Rachel Divine is a breast cancer survivor and proud member of El Concilio (The Council), the Spanish Patient & Family Advisory Council at City of Hope; presents on behalf of El Año Más Allá (The Year Beyond), a Susan G. Komen for the Cure program for Latina breast cancer survivors at Methodist Hospital of Southern California. As well, Rachel is a member of Yoga Alliance, certified to teach prenatal and kids yoga, and also teaches yoga as therapy for clients in recovery.

 

This post originally appeared on www.yogadivina.com. For more information, visit the site, or call +1-626-296-YOGA (9642)

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Why Yoga? And Why Cancer’s Not The End Of The Road