Anjali Rao 14:31:33
Namaskar Welcome to the accessible yoga podcast, where we explore the connections between the ancient teachings of yoga in the context of the times we live in.
This podcast is brought to you by the accessible yoga Association, a nonprofit organization focused on accessibility and equity in yoga.
Anjali Rao 14:31:51
I'm your co host, Anjali Rao. My pronouns are she and her, and I serve as president of the accessible yoga Association Board of Directors.
And I'm your co host Jivana Heyman. My pronouns are he and him, and I serve as a director of the accessible yoga Association.
Anjali Rao 14:32:09
Hello, and welcome to the accessible yoga podcast. I am Anjali Rao. My pronouns are she her, and I will be the host for today's episode on a topic that is very close to my heart as a survivor, yoga and cancer. I'm so looking forward to this conversation with our guests who I consider a friend and a comrade in the world of yoga, and who made time in her busy schedule to show her support. Welcome, welcome to Anusha Wijeyakumar. A few words for an OSHA and I would I invite you to please introduce yourself in your own words. And Lucia is the Wellness Consultant for Hoag Hospital, one of the top rated hospitals in the US, where she leads an integrative medicine and implementing mindfulness meditation practices for early risk assessment for breast and ovarian cancer prevention programs, and breast cancer survivorship programs. Anisha is very passionate about her work in STEM and is also now entered the world of academia. So Anisha thank you so much for making time for this podcast. And having this conversation with me your perspective and presence is so needed in both wellness and academia. So I'm so excited to see where this is taking you. If you could just share in your own words what you are up to right now.
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:33:38
Thank you. And first of all, congratulations Anjali on becoming the new president incoming for accessible yoga. They are blessed to have you and I'm really excited to see where you take the organization in the coming year. And so congratulations on that and always happy to support the vital work of accessible yoga. Thank you also for that kind introduction. And so yes, I am the Wellness Consultant for Hogue. We are based in Orange County, California, where I lead on integrative medicine, and holistic wellness for our Women's Health Institute and Neurosciences Institute, specifically focused on breast cancer care prevention, ovarian cancer care and prevention and our maternal mental health program. And I know that we'll talk a lot more about the cancer piece as we move forward. I am also a newly appointed faculty member and professor at San Diego State University, where I teach a course that's very close to my heart. And this is where, you know, when we step into our data, Mark Devine opportunities come our way. And I was blessed to be able to create this course that is very much, I guess, how I'm showing up in the world. And it's all about collective well being and the intersection of wellness and social justice at the Weber Honors College at SDSU. And I'm also the author of meditation with intention that came out in January 2021. And just grateful to be in community with you, oh, I'm
Anjali Rao 14:35:10
so excited to have this conversation because it dysfunctionality in wellness is such a big, you know, need of and has been a need of the hour in most of the world right now. So I'm grateful that you're doing this work. It's a cause, like I said, very close to my heart. How did you start working with folks with cancer first and Russia? What drew you to this work?
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:35:34
So very interestingly, I was a speaker at a wellness conference in November, October or November 2015. And I had just started kind of branched out on my own and began my company Shanthi within, and HK, one of their leadership team was present at this wellness conference and heard me speak, and then reached out to me thereafter, again, divinely guided and divinely led and invited me to have a meeting with their leadership team for the Women's Health Institute. And I've never looked back. So I began with home almost seven years ago now, and my role has just grown and I feel truly rewarded and grateful to do the work that I do with them.
Anjali Rao 14:36:19
Wonderful. And can you share an experience that moved you in that space?
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:36:29
There have been so many. But I guess the work that I'd love to talk about a little bit more detail with you and I know it's close to your heart is my work being one of the first people to create a meditation program that we're clinically testing at home? Because I'm I work specifically in STEM and evidence based medicine. And so when you when you work in clinical research, I don't think what people realize is, it's a long run. There's a lot of research, there's a lot of pre work that goes into getting a proposal together, getting that proposal approved by hospital administration, getting the IRB, the independent review board to authorize your research. So it's not just suddenly like, Oh, I've come up with an idea. And now I'm going to implement it with with clinical evidence based medicine, there's a lot more to it than that, which is why when people tell me, I've done my own research, you know, it baffles me a Google search is not wonderful, Google is right, and we all use, and this is not, you know, any disrespect towards using search engines. But a Google search isn't research when people say I've done my own research. And we've seen a lot of that within yoga and wellness spaces over the past few years. In particular, I don't think they realize the harm that that statement causes and and the reverberation of that harm, you know, within wellness spaces specifically. So this work that I'm doing is very close to my heart, it has been a long time in the baking. And we are very fortunate that it's at no cost to our patients. Because the vast majority of work that I do at Hoag is funded through philanthropy, and are at the hope Hospital Foundation, we do a lot of work in the community. And this program in particular, we were able to introduce to patients during the pandemic, so you're a breast cancer survivor yourself. So you can really relate to this. So during the pandemic, people were having to come to their appointments alone, they were having to undergo surgery alone, they were getting a cancer diagnosis alone. And I don't think people I'm a frontline health care worker as well. So I've been on the frontlines of the pandemic working at our main hospital in 2020. Pre vaccination, so we are putting our families ourselves at risk, right. And so for me, this disinformation and misinformation is very deep, because I saw firsthand the damage that it created. Anyway, that's a sub topic. Yeah.
Anjali Rao 14:38:54
But it's interesting. Yeah, nobody thought related. And I used to teach yoga for cancer at Stanford for people who are going through both diagnosis and post post diagnosis through treatment. So I've seen how, first of all yoga has, you know, supported people for various reasons, and through the process and post operation surgeries and all of that. So my approach and my work and in this realm has been different and yours has been from the back end. And also, you know, I think it's all it's all needed. And obviously, one can't do without the other. So. And yes, absolutely. Through the pandemic, we saw that, as you said, a far more deeper need for wellness spaces, which are intersectional. In the sense for those of for those folks who don't have access to health care, or these systems of care, how did you see this sort of play out in the in the community that you were a part of?
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:40:04
Yeah, and this will circle back, I think, to the example that I would love to give about how the meditation program has really touched the lives of our patients. And there are many, one of them springs to mind. So we were introducing this to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients predominantly during the pandemic at this very stressful time, right. And the patients that we introduced this to, we're not familiar with meditation, and if they were they had never had any regularity of practice. And One patient in particular had to go to her surgery alone, because during the pandemic, you weren't allowed to have any family members with you. And they were feeling heightened anxiety because the O R shedule. Just depends upon the surgeons and issues that arise during operations and surgeries. And so this patient surgery was delayed, they were having like heightened anxiety. And when my colleague who I partnered with to actually do this research, Dr. Heather McDonald, she's the director of our pre Viva program at Hoag and her and I are the authors of this research. When she came to see her patient, the patient said, I'm so grateful for your program. I basically even though I didn't have my phone, I've been doing the practice regularly, I was able to remember a doshas voice, remember the meditation and do the practice, which really helped calm me down leading up to the surgery. And obviously being in a state of calm is optimal, before surgery, kind of managing that that parasympathetic Nervous System response and managing that stress response. And this patient was able to do that through the program. And then, you know, we've had so many stories of how this program has touched people's lives. But the other one that jumps out is that, you know, we never anticipated that people's partners would do the program with them. That wasn't anything that we had written into the research, or that we had anticipated. And the number of our patients that share with us that their partners also did the 12 week program with them and felt the benefits of the practice. And in particular, one of our patients whose partners had had leukemia for 25 years, she was, had used to be his primary carer, she was then diagnosed with breast cancer. And this her her partner did the practice with her. And he found and felt the benefits of meditation also, amidst Hizam diagnosis, and of course, his wife's diagnosis. So yeah, so many benefits, which is, you know, amazing for us to behold and it just makes me grateful to be able to do the work that I do in cancer care and breast cancer specifically,
Anjali Rao 14:42:34
oh, thank you so much for sharing that that is that is really touching that, that partners who, who are, you know, partners, or folks who are diagnosed are doing this and supporting this, and I want to look at the research to at some point. So is there any way we can look like see the access to research? Or do you have to be a part of
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:42:57
so we if you had attended the International Congress on integrative medicine in Phoenix, Arizona, in May 2022, we presented our research and we presented my program we were invited to present, which was amazing, but really, at the moment, it's only at medical conferences that we are beginning to present the researchers, we're in the final stages of collating the pain analysis, we were able to kind of collate the meditation perspective. And we just completed our final patient this summer. So we'll have more information available. But currently, it's really only in medical environments that we will be presenting. But of course, I'm always happy to share more. And that's a great point, I should probably share more about this work that I do on social media. Yeah, there's always so
Anjali Rao 14:43:46
I totally understand that. And, you know, it was just, it's a personal question to in so many ways, because I have, when one is diagnosed, you've become the de facto sort of counselor for so many people who get diagnosed, and then they call you and then they're like, you know, what, what should I do? What are some of the practices that I do, so I share it. So if that is something which you have shared, which is in one place, or a link or something like that, then I can just sort of show them that show them where the information is located, and maybe they can access it. And then I can say that, hey, this is not just a Google research, this is this is research that has been done by valid folks who know both yoga as well as, you know, modern Western medicine. So it's like both and there is rigor to the, to the research, because there's so much information out there, as you have just alluded to it, it's, it's, it can be overwhelming for the patients, when they're also going through so much sort of information overload. So appreciate that. And maybe we can just share some sort of pointers to some work that you like, also secondary research, and then that can also probably support, folks as well. So thank you for sharing that. I know we just talked before the recording that, you know, thank God for yoga, big of as a personal practice for, for you as a person who's doing the work in the field as a frontline activist, as a researcher, as a teacher, as you know, a community member at large doing the work of social justice, how is all of this impacting your own practice? I mean, how is that expanded? Or how do you center your own care when you're working out in this field?
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:45:37
That's a great question. And like we said, just before we began the official recording to me, I couldn't have got through the past two years, without my sadhana, without my spiritual practice without my daily practice of yoga, and you know, what is yoga? Far more than answer, you know, yoga is an Asana, we have to dismantle that narrative. It's inaccessible, it's elitist, it's ableist. And the list goes on. And for me, it's the philosophy of the practice. It's the meditative, contemplative aspects of the practice that have saved me during, you know, an incredibly isolating and stressful time, which has been the case for I would say, pretty much everybody during the pandemic but I have to say, as a frontline health care worker there, there was much more stress because you are putting the needs of your patients over everybody else's needs, including your own including your family's well Like he was saying, you know, I was at the main hospital, from the outset of when the pandemic started, there were no vaccinations. Right, they hadn't got it, you know, people were they masking as effectively as I would have liked. I'm in a room, I have a small child, he was three, two at that point. So you know, for those of us that are on the frontlines in these health crises in these times, which the past two years have been, it's a different lens through which we see wellness, right, a completely different lens. And there was so much that I saw from people that were have the privilege to be a sponsor in their homes that didn't have to put themselves at risk, but didn't have to put their families at risk. That had a lot of opinions, often, none of them rooted in science, none of them rooted in evidence based medicine. And I think it's easy for us to offer opinions without having to actually live something without having to see the reality without having to see the hospital beds running out. I see useful to capacity, primarily because of the spreading of misinformation and disinformation largely within yoga and wellness spaces. And that's the reality. So I think for me, what I noticed working in this space is like, wow, I'm actually working in a space where I don't have much commonality with anybody in this space. And that was incredibly isolating. I mean, the good thing to come out of that is it did it enabled me to make connections with amazing people around the world, even if not in my own, you know, locale but I would say that that chasm deepened for me. And the harsh reality of how wellness has become the opposite of what wellness should entail.
Anjali Rao 14:48:17
Yes, because it has become so elitist and only a few a few people can access it.
Garrett Jurss 14:48:26
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Anjali Rao 14:49:30
And you often debunk, you know or rather you draw attention to the rise of white supremacy in in yoga spaces and in you know, the larger you wellness space. Could you talk a little bit more about that and why that is so important for us to continuously delve into.
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:49:52
mean white supremacy is a paradigm that we are all living under and in whether we're consciously aware of it or not. I think there tends to be some confusion. So when we say or I say white supremacy, people associate that with Magga, which it is with Confederate flags, which it is with the Ku Klux Klan, which it is, those are very, you know, overt examples of white supremacy of which have grown over the past years. It's undeniable, I live in such a community. But then there's the covert white supremacy that we face every day, especially for those of us that are highly melanated visible People of Color that we can't escape, but it's inescapable and is sucking the air out of it out of the room. Again, whether you're aware of it or not, ultimately, there are people that you know, benefit, obviously, from this paradigm of white supremacy, there are People of Color that uphold the paradigm of white supremacy consciously or not, because of the history of colonization because of the history of enslavement. So to me, there's a couple of things here. Each of us has to adopt a decolonial mindset, it is pivotal that we do that, and to take a step back, and to really commit to unlearning and relearning. And that goes hand in hand with dismantling the narrative and this paradigm of white supremacy that we are all living under. That is suffocating everybody. Because ultimately, and until we can all be Well, none of us are truly well. And we see this and I see countless examples of this in America. We don't even need to look any farther every day and So that is the damaging narrative that has played out very much. So within yoga and wellness spaces that we need to continue to be dismantling and divesting from.
Anjali Rao 14:51:43
Absolutely. And thank you so much for sharing that. So are, you know, with such articulation and clarity, I know you are, you know, we just sort of jumped right into this conversation, but to take a little bit of our, you know, back step to reel it back a little bit in your own background, as, as you said, like a melanated. Individual, and some but somebody who has come into the US from, from Britain, can you just tell us a little bit more about that? Yeah. And how has that informed your position positionality here as a wellness consultant, as a person who was a frontline activist in the wellness space is how has that informed it? Yeah.
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:52:33
So you're absolutely right, I was born in London. I've spent I've lived in Australia and New Zealand, but I've spent all most of my life in the UK. And it's totally different. Because we have universal health care, we have paid maternity leave, we have paid maternity leave. We have access for people at the margins of society is historically underserved, to be service by not only social services, but a number of different grass note routes, nonprofits, national nonprofits, etc. The bulk of my experience has actually been working in what we call the third sector, the nonprofit sector in the UK. And my work in social justice spans over two decades now, I'm of Sri Lankan Tamil heritage. And my work in social justice and activism began actually working with Sri Lankan Tamil migrants who were classed as refugees and asylum seekers over 20 years ago now, because of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Sri Lankan dumbells. So, to me, social justice has been the underpinning of my life, it's always been, activism has been something that was introduced to me through my mother. And she kind of led by example, and my father, and it's always been a part of, you know, my work, if you will. And that now I guess, it's just getting a larger audience or a bigger environment, a bigger forum, you know, whatever you want to call it, but in a sense, it's always been, who I am and how I'm showing up. And I guess I'm being given a bit more of an opportunity to do that publicly, which I'm truly grateful for. And I never take that for granted. Because, you know, I haven't been saying earlier, when someone approached me. You know, it's an organization that's doing amazing work in Orange County, and they wanted me to speak on behalf of Togo. And they were like, you know, you're really outspoken on your social media that how does that play into the other work that you do? And that's a great question. Because I work with corporations and I have private clients, I work for a hospital. But to me, I'm always going to show up authentically. Now that is looking different in each space, but I'm still showing up as who I am. And I'm grateful to have the support of the organizations and companies that I work with, I'm selective with who I work with. Now, it's a privilege to be able to do that. I'm fully aware everybody can't, there was a period when I couldn't. But I would always be mindful of who am I choosing to be in community with what companies are might gravitating towards, because there are certain organizations and people and companies that I just wouldn't work with. And that's not to say that others shouldn't, it's just that those are my own boundaries, but also yogic ethics, values, morals that are a part of my own sadhana, that I would be it would be doing a disservice to myself to pretend that that doesn't, that isn't factoring, you know, in the work that I'm doing. And so that, you know, is I guess, the lens with which I have come to America, I've engaged in the work that I'm doing. But you know, it's interesting coming from the UK because people often say to me, Oh, you're very socialist in the UK? No, we're not. We're very much a capitalist society. We just believe in having in in addressing inequities in society and systemic inequities institutional inequity. That doesn't mean to say that we don't have problems. We've got many in the UK, it's the home of white supremacy. One of the
Anjali Rao 14:56:06
homes one of the one of the ones that started at all for so many years.
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:56:13
You know, one of the homes of white supremacy absolutely look at it Britain's history of colonization, specifically in the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. So, you know, I think Americans have this notion of communism or socialism, perhaps without an understanding and and an aware So what that really is, and you know, to me, it's this, it's in many ways we have to simplify. We don't need to be living in a dystopian society, house lessness shouldn't be normalized. Food insecurity shouldn't be normalized. You know, I've been fortunate to be working with the congressional hunger center and a conglomerate of 10, national nonprofits focused on an end hunger summit that the White House is putting on, on September 28. And it's the first end hunger summit in 50 years. And what people aren't aware of is 42 million Americans are not sure of where their next meal is coming from 14 million of whom are children. Food Insecurity is a massive issue that needs to be urgently addressed. Yet, we seem to think these are issues that are only faced in other countries predominantly with non white people. Time with the comments that come from South South Asia, the Indian subcontinent, we're actually we've got all of these problems within America. Absolutely. Really. Yeah. So it's really frightening that narrative, yes,
Anjali Rao 14:57:36
to me, and how it was all really interlinked, right? I mean, because it is the folks who are who are, you know, who don't have access to health care, who are the who are, like you said, who are going hungry, who are experiencing homelessness, who are not being taken care of, by, by the structures and the systems that and the institutions that were put in place, albeit through a system that, you know, was built on privilege and power? So So yeah, I mean, to to to make those connections are really important for folks here. And I know that as people who are doing the sort of education, it can get really overwhelming. And for those of us who are doing this work, what what would be your recommendations or words of advice, or as a person who has lived this work for years, like you said, what would what would you tell us?
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:58:36
I will say this, and this is a message to the dominant culture, please, it's better for you to do nothing than to engage in performative activism and Ally ship. And I had a very unfortunate experience myself last week, just based upon that, this, this, this performative notion, right, and it's actually much more damaging than the dominant culture and white folks realize when we are utilized in your game. And I would say that every person of color that I nose is always willing to give the benefit of the doubt. And you know, I had Dianne Bondy, who's a very dear friend of mine come and guest lecture at SDSU. Last week on restorative justice and anti racism. And we were all sharing like, it's actually much more damaging for white folks, the dominant culture to pretend to be an ally, and pretend to be a co conspirator to change, and then really just be doing it for your own
Anjali Rao 14:59:34
benefit is doing it for architects, yeah, just doing it for optics or optics and for your
Anusha Wijeyakumar 14:59:39
own benefit, and, and then it ends up being far more damaging. So this is an invitation if you really have a commitment to social justice. And when we saw this, everybody was painting themselves as even when naming social justice warrior, activist, you know, putting labels on themselves the hashtag, the Black square, three months later, it was gone, because they realized, wow, yeah, you know, it actually isn't working for my business. I'm actually losing followers, I'm losing business. So to me, you know, this might not be for everybody, right? But that's okay. But each of us can do something. And if you are part of the dominant culture, and you really want to be an ally, really think about how you can commit to being a co conspirator to change, we don't need you to speak for us, we're more than capable of doing that ourselves. If you want to align with BIPOC Do it for the right reasons, and make sure that you're doing your own work. Because even though I have that negative experience, I mean, I've had plenty over the past two years. It doesn't J to me, and because of my practice, right, you know, and I will say I've met some amazing white folks in yoga and wellness over the past few years, who are deeply committed to decolonization, anti racism work, they are few and far between, but they're out there. And I would rather work with less people that are truly committed to change, then hundreds and hundreds and 1000s of people that are just doing it, but optics and that performative nature. So you know, think about the work ahead and it's work and that's why we have our practice and do it for the right reasons. And and really think about you know, the concept of Karma yoga, you I'm sure teach this in the Bhagavad Gita, are we giving the fruits of our actions back to to the God of our own understanding divine Consciousness Universal Consciousness, however that looks to you, are we doing it with our own ego in mind? Are we doing it with our ignorance at the forefront, you know that obviously at the forefront of what we're doing, because if we're doing it from that perspective, it's going to be far more damaging, and ultimately be damaging for the individual to whether they're consciously aware of it or not.
Anjali Rao 15:01:49
Well, beautifully said, and thank you for being so honest. And I love that you've talked about a performative ally ship or performative activism or whatever you want to call it. And also, I love the way you talk to talk about being in a capitalistic framework with integrity. I mean, that is some question that I always sort of look into for myself as well, like, how am I aligning with organizations or people in a way, which is centered around yoga ethics of non harming? And that's a tough one for all of us. Who are, you know, in this world? And could you give us some more insight into your own thought processes? You already shared? Some Is there anything else you want to add to that? And again, it's linked back to linking back to intersection of wellness. Because it is all in my opinion, everything is interconnected. liberation is interconnected. And justice is interconnected. So yeah, yeah, it's all
Anusha Wijeyakumar 15:02:50
interconnected. And also, to me, who gets to decide who doesn't get access to wellness, I've worked in corporate settings. That was how I came to America, actually. And so for me, I was able to utilize my practice. But other people weren't aware of meditation and mindfulness. Other people weren't aware of the philosophy of yoga, other people weren't aware how this is a framework for living. And so how can we show up wherever we are, and make these practices I mean, yoga is meditation, yoga is mindfulness. It's all it's not, again, when we say yoga, and I have to spend a lot of time decolonizing, the mindset around yoga and my work, especially unfortunately, with my cancer patients, when we reframe the narrative, right, meditation is yoga, breathing is yoga, you know, pranayama, is yoga, mindfulness yoga, that in itself makes it accessible to people who don't have the physical ability to even walk. Right. So yeah, I also think in terms of clients in whether it's a corporation or the private sector, wherever it is, who says that they shouldn't have access to these practices, either. Most people, oh, working in those settings, right? It's a luxury and privilege for those of us that have been able to exit many cars.
Anjali Rao 15:04:02
Anusha Wijeyakumar 15:04:03
And many, and so, you know, I often find there's a very privileged narrative and yoga and wellness that I just don't engage in this pretty much like these people shouldn't have it. And that person says, Who says you? Like, well, then we're just as bad as everybody else, right? Totally agree. Because we're only saying that this small subset of people that you've decided, and you give them a day, right, get access, my work is all about everybody should have access to it. I'd love the mega people to have access to meditation and mindfulness. I'm not personally going to be leading. But I will say this, I wrote the article, as you know, if installed, they were Magga hats, they had a change of heart and change, I would have loved to have worked with them. Of course, who am I not to? Who are we to judge that other people won't have a spiritual awakening won't have a change of heart, Anjali. And the person I wrote about in my article, I pray that they have a change of heart because they've been exposed to yoga. Right? They were very well respected within our community. I mean, they weren't teaching yoga, but you know what I mean, they were, you know, doing what they were doing. And who are we to say that that person at some point, hopefully, will have an awakening. And so I find that there's problematic people on both sides. Obviously, one side is more problematic than the other. But to me, we have to be mindful that we're not playing into any one narrative. And, you know, the older that I get, and the more that I do this work, the more I want to unlearn that, you know, what I mean? And I can see where I've been upholding that to a degree, and perhaps I've been casting judgment, and perhaps I haven't been making my work as inclusive and as accessible as as I want it to be. So that's nice. But the if that's my self study, like, how can I do better? How can I be less judgmental? With boundary face? Of course, of course. I
Anjali Rao 15:05:58
mean, yeah, we are not going to, like you said, you don't have to lead we don't have as people who have been impacted by white supremacy. We don't have to lead you know, yoga session or philosophy or breathing or whatever with people who are wired that way. But absolutely. I hope somebody does, and I hope their minds and hearts are changing open. So well said I agree with that. And maybe just to wrap things up, I know you're also very busy. wrap things up. How can we As, as people from the collective and you know, I always say who nobody knows who is going through cancer treatment because there is so much stigma, especially in the communities that we you and I come from Anushka I used to work with people teach yoga to people who are going to cancer whose families and close friends didn't know that they were going through cancer because it is it has so much stigma illness, there's so much of stigma in the world that we live in. So how can we as a collective support those who are going through cancer from your experience?
Anusha Wijeyakumar 15:07:07
And that's a difficult one, right? Because there's so much that's attached that whether it's people don't feel comfortable telling their friends or their family, and often the workplace, right, that's a big issue too, right? Or the wherever they're, they're existing and inhabiting. And so to me, how we can show up for people is by being non judgmental, and also, this is what I've also learned to practice. Don't ask someone, if someone wants to tell you something, they will tell you, you know, leading with oh my gosh, you look so unwell. salvations have no 100. So, weight, putting on weight, losing weight, you know, whatever it is, they're just going to tell you blurt it out. So I think it's been having that practice of mindfulness and taking a step back. And, you know, even if you have noticed a change in somebody's appearance, perhaps, you know, choosing not to comment on that the person is no doubt fully aware, especially when it comes to chemotherapy, hair loss, the loss of you know, eyebrows, radiation, all of those things. So I would just say being mindful if somebody has taken a step back out of your life to not take it personally, there could be many reasons why people are behaving the way that they are. And very often what happens is we said to ourselves, oh, my God, how can this happen? How has this person not returned my call or my message, or whatever? And I think decentering ourselves from any narrative is always a good way to go about it. And I just don't think we should be commenting on anybody's appearance in general.
Anjali Rao 15:08:38
100%. Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. And any law, you know, we would love to support you. Like you said, for us as adults. When I say us, I'm talking about accessible yoga and the community was listening to this podcast conversation with you, how can we support you in your work right now?
Anusha Wijeyakumar 15:08:58
Thank you, thank you for asking me. So there's a couple of ways you can decolonize your bookshelf, and order a copy of meditation with intention from wherever you like to order your books from. And that is just a talked a lot about my work and in STEM and evidence based medicine and cancer specifically. And then you can also join my patreon community, which is focused on decolonizing wellness, with a commitment to being pro science and anti racist. And every patron gets access to the meditation program that is clinically testing at Hoag and we come together in a monthly spiritual Satsang, which suits my soul. And these are people from all over the country and parts of the world who have a deep commitment to decolonizing their wellness and yoga practices. And that's a wonderful way for us to build community with like minded people, and it's a tonic, it really is a tonic in these times. Because let's be honest on God, most yoga and wellness spaces in California, certainly in Orange County, I'm not sure where you're situated with but I are the opposite to me of what yoga is and the opposite of inclusivity. And, and having even a deeper understanding and awareness of what the practice of yoga really entails. So sometimes perhaps the only place that we can find that community is online, and I'm grateful for this virtual space. Thank
Anjali Rao 15:10:22
you so much for sharing that. And I completely agree. I think community is everything, especially those who are going through cancer and their caregivers. Community is so powerful. So thank you for facilitating that and sharing that. And I'm so very grateful for you and Russia for the work that you do. And with so much fire and passion. It's always such a pleasure to talk to you and I so looking forward to seeing where this new path that you've taken on this new new roles that you've taken on in academia. You know, I'm really excited to see where that's where this goes for you. Thank you so much.
Anusha Wijeyakumar 15:10:58
Thank you so much. And so grateful to be in community with you and grateful for all the work that you were doing, and excited to see where you're going to be, you know, taking accessible yoga in the coming year.
Anjali Rao 15:11:09
Thank you. Thank you all so very much to all the listeners who have joined this conversation with Anusha Wijeyakumar and me Anjali Rao. See you next time.
Thanks for joining us for the accessible yoga podcast. We're so grateful to be in community with you.
Anjali Rao 15:11:26
Please check out our website accessible yoga.org To find out more about our upcoming programs, including our annual accessible yoga conference, at our website, you can also learn more about how to become an ambassador and support the work that we're doing in the world.
Please subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review. Wherever you listen. We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Anjali Rao 15:11:48
You can also submit a question or suggest a topic or potential guests you would like us to interview at accessible yoga.org See you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai