I am a cancer survivor - five words that I never, ever thought I would say...
Cancer became my realty and took over my life on May 26th, 2012, when I sat in a cancer surgeon's office and was told I had breast cancer......
I found a lump in my breast a month before, a very painful lump and was told it most probably was a cyst. A mammogram and a biopsy confirmed the worst. From there on it just spiralled downwards.
The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, so I had to go through three surgeries, chemo and radiotherapy, my whole world, my future just dissolved.....
I tried my best not to view my cancer treatment as a fight, I did not want my body, mind and soul to be at war all the time. I was exhausted, scared, sad and confused.
I continued to teach Bikram yoga throughout my treatment, 2 classes a month instead of 20. Being around my beloved students, who all knew about my diagnosis was very healing for me, I still had a purpose, I could still function, I was still a dedicated teacher.  Cancer was never going to define me. We give away the things that mean most to us and only the things that we give away truly belong to us,
My own yoga practice changed immensely, after years of a strong, solid practice, I found I was drawn to the softer aspects of yoga. I went back to my yin, restorative teachings and created a more healing, soothing yoga world for myself.
My meditation and yoga nidra practice provided me with coping mechanisms to lift the weight of when the stress of dealing with cancer treatment got too much. I sat with and confronted my feelings, thoughts, fears and pain. I let the emotions happen, I cried a LOT and I still do.
Sitting with emotion, good or bad is a peaceful way, the Buddhist way of acceptance. I was able to find that small, vulnerable, safe space inside of me, it still exists and is now bigger, I call it My Inner Smile, also the name of my most popular guided mediation.
My cancer journey taught me a lot of things, throughout the pain, both physical, emotional and mental I learned to stay, to make peace with whatever was going on within me. Yoga has helped me heal, the scars are there, but I have befriended them.
So, start where you are, breathe, soften, go to the space within- your inner smile.  

With love, Nina x