In the row at the front of Manouso Manos' yoga workshop in Los Angeles, Diane Gysbers stands tall, slender, and often garbed in beautiful shades of purple. She always has looked this way, with her gentle, shy smile. But now, in the years since she was treated for breast cancer, it’s clear that the look of fragility is misleading.
An Iyengar yoga teacher in Los Angeles for more than 20 years, she has told her story in the newsletter for Southern California Iyengar association, Yoga Vidya. She underwent a double mastectomy in 2006 after a diagnosis at age 53 of lobular cancer, a rare form of breast cancer that can only be detected by ultrasound. She had had annual mammograms since she was 35.
Yoga was with her throughout her journey through diagnosis, surgery, chemo, radiation and recovery. Her husband noted that she did pranayama in her hospital bed. She thanks B.K.S. Iyengar, his daughter Geeta, and his son, Prashant, for their gift of yoga. Her teacher, Manouso, added specific asanas to the sequences given by the Iyengars in three phases, for while undergoing treatment, post-treatment, and after treatment was completed.
Practice to support health
She noted in a description of her practice that each practice must be tailored to the individual, and advised: “Remember that your aim during this time is not to build strength, but to support health.”
Nine months after her surgery, her yoga practice remained restorative. Yoga had “eased her recovery and accelerated it”, according her husband. She continued teaching, although with a reduced schedule.
“Day by day I have watched close up the miracle of Diane’s recovery from breast cancer/lymphoma, this astounding transformation of being from grave illness to resilient expansive health,” he wrote in July 2007.
Fatigue is gone
Now, she reports that she is back to teaching full-time. She heads the prenatal program at Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles. She teaches at her studio in Venice. She is a faculty member at the institute for the three-year teacher-training program of the Southern California Iyengar association. (She was a member of the first graduating class of the program, which was established in 1992.) She is on the board of directors for Iyengar Yoga Therapeutics.
“Fatigue is gone, though I do have to pace myself & listen to my body. If I am tired, I need to respect that & practice accordingly,” she wrote in an e-mail on Oct. 29.
In her writings printed in 2008 in Yoga Vidya, she thanked Manouso for creating a varied practice for her and for "22 years of insight and inspiration as her teacher." She credited him again in her e-mail this week.
“Fatigue was the symptom that lasted the longest & had the most profound effect on my life. Manouso, my teacher, told me to respect the fatigue and as long as I had it to do restoratives & it would eventually lift. I did as I was told, and the fatigue is gone.”