When Louise died, a kind friend gifted me some yoga sessions and I have become a bit of an addict. Despite having no calf muscles in one leg, and a broken hip for the other, yoga has proved to be very therapeutic and a form of physiotherapy. Another friend gave me a book Yoga for Cancer which specialises in asana poses for cancer patients to stimulate the liver, intestine and skin.
I try and do yoga 3-4 times a week, often on my own, and went to yoga classes in my gym when gyms were open. I also have a weekly session with a yoga teacher who practices Iyengar yoga, which advocates using blocks and supports where necessary – a great help to me with my impaired balance
Before and during lockdown I used a couple of excellent free websites for my solo practice, Yoga with Adriene and Five Parks Yoga, both of which have routines to suit every occasion and level. Apart from a few balance issues which were exacerbated by my hip replacement in 2017 – helped by the use of the blocks – I get by pretty well. Yoga is a great way to start the day, clear the stagnant qi and balance the chakras! It is very energising.
Pilates is particularly good for developing the core, and the reformer machine was instrumental in my early recovery and mobility. However, access to reformers is limited and expensive so I used to go to Pilates or Yogalates classes at the gym, which is a winning combo of the two exercises. However, when I returned to England from Singapore my left ankle started get very stiff and tingly and, on the advice of my physio/osteopath, I bought a second-hand reformer which has been excellent. I do two dedicated sessions on the reformer per week, and yoga the other times. It’s a good balance.
Walk everywhere you can! It’s as good an exercise as any if you don’t have access to a gym or lack motivation to exercise on your own. Recent research shows that it can aid recovery from certain cancers by up to 40%.
I have managed to traipse round numerous cities in the Far East, the African bush, South America and the Swiss mountains without too much difficulty (you can read about my travels here) although I am a bit slow!
Everyone’s taking about Mindfulness, but I think this is a bit of a bandwagon personally. So I just try and meditate every morning for 15 minutes, either in a lotus position or in the ‘legs up the wall’ pose (very good to reduce swelling in my leg). I use an app called Simply Being, which helps me calm down and zone out. This quite often takes most of the 15 minutes, it is true, but practising Pranayama breathing while meditating helps with the concentration. My cat, Pickle, particularly likes to join in…
I am not what you would call naturally sporty, but before I broke my hip and lost the muscles in my other leg, I was a very keen skier, hill-walker and diver. Several years post cancer and post hip-replacement I am enjoying skiing and diving again. Skiing is relatively easy as my foot and ankle are encased in a boot, but edging the ski and blanch can be a bit challenging. No more powder skiing or steep icy black runs! Getnlre red cruising is fine.
Diving is much easier, although I do need help getting out of the water. Finning in strong currents can be hard work, but I find the tranquillity and beauty underwater is the equivalent to several mediation sessions as you float around with nothing but beauty to distract you. The silence and reliance on breathing is very zen. I must be extremely relaxed as I barely use any air when I’m diving much to people’s surprise.
I am sure that my combination of activity has contributed greatly to my recovery.