This journey begins in 2010, even though I have been practicing yoga since 2003. For several years, my yoga practice was very irregular and I mostly used it to center myself and find some quiet me-time. In 2010, I was coping with my father's recovery from surgery. He had been diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and had been taken his entire esophagus and part of his stomach in the beginning of 2010 and things were looking good.
But by Spring his cancer was back; it was now in his throat - which would eventually lead to the paralysis of one of this vocal cords - and his liver and at the end of the Summer, the doctors had told me and my sister that since my dad's cancer had returned there wasn't much to do. He got sicker and sicker and lost a lot of weight. Due to a pancreatitis he spent an entire week without eating (this picture is one of the first things he ate by himself when he started recovering). We did everything we could, tried everything, but he was still given 6 months to live. I remember being with my dad every day and making the most out of everything; I wanted to remember him always. I trained myself to remember both his voices: the regular one and the one after his vocal cord paralysis. I wanted to remember everything.
In October I went to a weekend yoga retreat with a friend and there I met my current Anusara-Inspired Yoga teacher, the inspiring Bel. I had never heard of Anusara Yoga before, but I immediately fell in love with this teacher and this inspiring yoga style she was talking about. I knew right then that was my home. Immediately I filled my mind - once again - with yoga projects. I wanted to practice more and more and maybe even do a teacher training so I could learn more.
But nearly two weeks after that, on November 13th my dad died. I will not go into details about his death, but one thing that keeps my soul at peace is knowing that he died surrounded by his wife and his two daughters, my father took his last breath while my right hand held his right hand, so I know for sure he wasn't in pain, he didn't suffer. He left in peace and he was surrounded by his family. We had been told hours before his death that we should start saying goodbye. Up until that moment in my life that was the hardest thing someone had ever told me. To say goodbye to my dad, while he could still see me and talk back to me. I remember the last smile he gave me. It was when me and my sister approached him, his eyes were closed, but he opened them and presented us with a huge smile. His last smile. My friends tell me they had never been in a funeral with so many people. You see, my dad was the kind of man who easily got along with anyone and anyone would always be on his good side and be a victim of his peculiar sense of humour. I remember how at the graveyard the man from the funeral home looked at me inquisitively and I nodded "Yes, go ahead, bury my father." I helped. I took a handful of dirt and let it fall on top of my dad's coffin. I didn't clean up my hand until I got home; I rubbed my hand onto the walls of my house; onto the walls of the house my dad had drawn and built himself.
For weeks, I felt completely numb. I was appaled at how the world could go on and how everything was the same, when everything was different now. I realized that everything ends. I should also point out that my 4-year relationship ended 4 months before my dad died, so I was carrying this deep feeling of loss with me. Most things didn't make sense to me anymore, how people approached their lives and how people related to each other. Everything seemed fake and pointless. I started questioning everything, the point of life itself.
Needless to say, I didn't enter 2011 the best way.
But, at the end of January I got an email with several yoga events in Portugal and I immediately recognized my teacher's name - yes, the one I had met back in October 2010. She was doing this 5 workshop series called "Anusara Fundamentals" at a new studio in Lisbon. And I knew I had to meet her again. So I contacted the studio where she was now teaching and yoga saved my life - again.