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A Thank You Note to My Bod

Prasarita Padottanasana
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – about consciously thanking my body for all that it does. When you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s easy to feel like your body has betrayed you. Like it’s been sneaking around behind your back, hanging out with rogue cells in alleyways making dirty deals. It’s a horrible feeling, that.

But my whole cancer experience has reset my priorities, which means that my time on the mat is now nonnegotiable. And so, I’ve been spending a lot of time feeling all the great things that my body can do and these are the things I want to focus on.

Before I begin my thank you note, I’m going to apologize for my past transgressions. In part because, despite what my writing might portray, I want you to know, dear readers, that I’m really not all hearts and flowers all the time. And also, by acknowledging the crappy stuff I’ve done to my body, I’m hoping that I can let it go (and my cells can, too) forever.

Dear Bod,
Ahem. Where do I begin? It seems like I have to begin loooong ago, back in my late teens and early twenties since that seems to be when my poorest choices were made. So here goes: Sorry about all those French fries (although the jury’s still out, I feel twinges of guilt for those high school McDonald’s runs). Sorry for drinking alcohol. Like ever. I’ve never been a big drinker, but that doesn’t seem to matter with the type of breast cancer I had. Sorry for bumming cigarettes at college parties and for my (past) love of cakes, cookies, ice cream, and cannolis. Do I need to atone for that tanning booth experiment that one time? Let’s just say it was the 80s and we were pulling out all the stops for prom. And we didn’t know any better.

In spite of all that—through fat times and thin times, good hair days and bad, you’ve continued to be there for me. So, I thought I’d thank you, publicly. Here goes:

Thank you to my heart for beating and reminding me that I’m alive

Thank you to my belly for moving up and down when I breathe in Savasana

Thanks to my toes for feeling the sand squoosh beneath them

Thanks to my face for feeling the sun shine on it

Thanks to my arms for being so great at hugging

Thanks to my legs for running and skipping and hopping

Thanks to my hips for wiggling and having dance parties with my two year old

Thanks to my vocal chords for making it possible to sing

Thanks to my ears for being able to hear music

Thanks to my wrinkles. If I’m being really honest, I have to admit I don’t like looking at you. But, you remind me that I’ve lived and and that I have gained some wisdom since the tanning booth incident.

Thanks to my blood and lymph and all of those other elements that come together and make sure that my body keeps on keepin’ on each day

Thanks to my musculo-skeletal system for firing up so that I can do yoga and feel what it means to be embodied

Thanks to my taste buds for giving me so much pleasure

Thanks to my brain for being able to process all of this. Sometimes you are too clever for your own good and you make things far too complicated. But all in all, I’m impressed by your hard work.

And finally, a big shout out to my eyebrows. Because, have you seen my eyebrows? I just really love the shape of my eyebrows.

Thank you. Thank you. Just thank you.


  1. LOOOOOVE your posts Andrea! Thank you for reminding me to thank my body too.

    I’ll add a thanks to my changing midsection for reminding me that I had it pretty good for a lot of years and learning to embrace aging and its effects!


    1. Anna! Thanks for reading. I’m so glad that the posts resonate. I am so with you on the midsection! Just not the same since pregnancy! sheeeeesh.

  2. Beautifully written once again! I so hope Yoga Journal picks this up for a wider audience. Many could benefit by this honest piece of work!

    Love being part of your amazing recovery….mamala

  3. Thank you for this, as it is honest and real. I love the positive message at the end about loving your eyebrows. We should all mark something we love on our bodies….such a great lesson for our children in our lives. (especially those little girls…) Thank you.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Lindsay! And thank you for the reminder about the example to kids. You’re so right on.

  4. Yes, Thanks for reminding us that we have to keep looking up from cancer to see the good things in life too. Jason’s DVD’s and videos are what finally got me on my mat over the last two years, and since my diagnosis of breast cancer several weeks ago, I haven’t been on my mat. Today, I am getting back to it.

    1. Hi Elise — I’m so sorry to hear the news of your diagnosis. Please send me a FB email if you want to be in touch about anything 🙂 I hope you had a nice yoga practice!

  5. I so enjoy your writings…thank you for reminding me to thank my body for continuing to carry me around day after day. Your wit and wisdom is superb! Keep those thoughts coming.

  6. Your writing brings tears to my eyes ( and I am not generally teary! but a mix of laughter and emotion!) Perhaps its also being 40 years old with 3 young children that this feels close to home. I have stumbled on your posts while I follow Jason’s teachings and you are making me laugh and cry at the same time (ciggies at parties, maccas drive thrus with my sister when she got her licence! ) anyway, I am are loving your writing here in Australia, you do it so well, and I’ll teach my class tomorrow with this idea of gratitude and thank myself for actually standing there for a change instead of what it can’t do. have a great weekend.

  7. Ha ha — I’m so glad you can relate, Imogen. And honestly, it is the biggest compliment to hear that I’ve made you laugh! So, thanks! XOXO

  8. Thank you! Love this letter, gave me chills and if you don’t mind, I will talk about this in my class today! Our intention will be to take a moment to thank our bodies before we start our practice and to continue thanking it during our practice!

  9. You know, I really do love the inspiration, but sometimes I feel so wrong. I feel so not a part of my body. Sometimes I practice and practice and I want to feel this amazing connection that I think everybody else is having and I don’t. I feel stiff and I feel disconnected and I try to practice and come back to my breath and my body and I just feel – not there. I try and I try and sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. And connecting to so many amazing people like Jason and like Sean, and other teachers who are teachers that inspire me and I have done so many of their amazing classes on line and sometimes they make me feel inadequate and small and meaningless. And I know that is my stuff, but I think it is important to hear the voices of the people that struggle with connecting to their breath and their bodies. And I try every day. I get on my mat and I move. And I breathe. And I look for the joy in my everyday life and I try to be grateful and I am and I struggle – in my every day. And sometimes I feel envious, because all the fabulous yogis, just seem to have it all so together and….. (sigh) at the end of the day, is everyone as amazing and enlightened and fabulous as they seem. Or is this the online thing. Or is it me. I’m just saying. Maybe its me. I’m sure it is. love and light. x

    1. Hi Irena!
      There is so much here in your comment…thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I guess my instinct is to say that feeling disconnected sometimes and connected other times is perfectly natural. I think the internet can make us feel pressured to be happy! and perfect! and fabulous! all the time and life is just not like that. Social media is the snapshot that people want to present. But we all ebb and flow and feel great and then crappy 🙂 For me, the yoga practice has always been about how to manage my sometimes tumultuous inner landscape. So if I feel pressured, I tried to come back to that — we’re all human and we’re all trying to figure it out. When I wrote this letter I had just done a yoga practice where I felt very much in the flow and happy and grateful and so I wanted to capture that feeling and bottle it, so to speak. But I certainly don’t feel that way all the time. Does that make sense? Warmly, Andrea

  10. I’m really loving your posts. Yoga and meditation got me through lymphatic cancer in my twenties (along with a great doctor and some fantastic nurses); sitting there with all the chemo going in, I took my mind off to a beach in Thailand where I’d spent one Christmas doing yoga and somehow it lifted me above the needles and the sickness and the smell of the hospital. 14 years on and all clear, respecting my body means a lot to me – and yes, I’ve done all sorts of awful things to it in the past (much too much alcohol in my twenties, lots of long-distance running, and a hell of a lot of chocolate) but it still carries me and I thank it for that.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Zoe. I loooove hearing survivor stories right now. Really need to hear them. My mind and body need that positive reinforcement! Congrats on your healing and love to you. Andrea

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