Yoga Podcast Episode 45: Eileen Hall

Recorded on the eve of her 60th birthday, Eileen Hall is a woman who has been practicing for over 30 years, through breast cancer, a mastectomy, and menopause – and is certified to teach in both the methods of Iyengar and Ashtanga Yoga. Complete with anecdotal stories and insight, Eileen gets right to the heart of what it really means to practice yoga.

When we come to that last breath in our life – what’s most important? How you stretched out your hamstrings? How deep you went in a backbend? Or how you lived your life as a person. 

Eileen Hall

You’ll rarely find Eileen out there in the public sphere or even away from her home Shala in Sydney Australia. So today’s episode one truly is a rare and beautiful treat!


PODCAST EXCERPTS

Sometimes it takes an experience – an illness or an accident or an injury to wake you up.  

I’m a cancer survivor. And I woke up out of the surgery, lying in my bed after I had a mastectomy on my left side. I couldn’t move my arm, I had 58 stitches across my chest and yet, I thought – What am I going to do? I’m going to do some pranayama. 

So I laid in bed and I visualized primary series. And inhale raise my arms, I couldn’t raise my arms, so I just energetically felt like I was lifting my arms. And I got halfway through the primary series and I was actually exhausted so I had to lie down in savasana. So you know , having gone through that experience, it made me so much more appreciative of what this practice can do when you have nothing.

If your life is being threatened and you are hanging on by a thread. What are you going to do? Hold on to your car? Your house? Your computer? Your iphone?  Or your breath? Breath is the last thing you’re going to give up. So there I was lying in my bed, having just had surgery, not knowing if I was going live. Surgery is no guarantee that you’re gong to live so I thought, Well this is the first day of a new beginning for me. And what is it going to begin with? It better begin with practice. 

At some point you have to get off the merry-go-round otherwise you’ll never get off. 

The practice is about internal transformation. Not external . And that’s why it doesn’t matter if you can’t clasp your hands in marychiasana D – it doesn’t matter. Do you clasp the fingers or do you reach around and grab your wrist or do you grab the elbow? I mean where is the end going?

Laying on my bed after surgery, I couldn’t move. What was most important? My breathing. Then when we all come to that last breath in our life, it’s going to be an exhale. It’s not going to be an inhale. It’s going to be an exhale. What’s most important? How you stretched out your hamstrings? How deep you went in a backbend? Or how you lived your life as a person. 

I believe that’s what a menopause is. It’s like you’re reinventing. Women have to reinvent themselves into something else.

Every woman is different though that cycle – and for me, the thing that I was effected most by my menopause was my lack of enthusiasm. Just my desire to not do anything. Lasted for a couple of years.

But the yoga practice was one thing that I knew if I need to continue this. I need to wake up and unroll the mat and find that space in myself to regain enthusiasm and desire to just continue and stay with it.

For women, it’s a change of career, it’s a change of life, a change of career, a change of opportunties … Kids are grown and starting to move away from the nest. Women are left with this empty space.

That I knew if I need to continue this. I need to wake up and unroll the mat and find that space in myself to regain enthusiasm and desire to just continue and stay with it. For women, it’s a change of career, it’s a change of life … It’s time now for, What are your passions? What is your direction? And so there’s a place of unkowning.

For some women, it might be quick. For some women, not at all. For some women they go through terrible heat fluctuations. And I didn’t experience anything on a physical level. Just on that mental level. And as my body changes, so has my practice. And so have my needs to want to continue.

That was my recent feeling of waking up and being on the mat. And now it’s just so joyful. It’s so unbelievably joyful. Because I’m not competing with anything or anyone. I have enough insight now to know how I can release the knots and the energy and feel my Prana and become just so contented with my physical form and where I’m at. It’s just magnificent. 



 

This episode of Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast was written, edited, and produced by Peg Mulqueen, with guest host, Anthony Roberts. Music by Marc Pilley.

To keep these podcasts ad-free, please consider making a donation. Thank you!

  • Donation Information

  • Yes, Peg! I want to help support Ashtanga Dispatch’s mission of spreading the inclusive message that this yoga is for every body and everyone is welcome. Please accept my special donation to help spread with future podcasts, magazines, and other helpful tools and materials you make available for the global Ashtanga community.
  • $0.00
  • Contact Information

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.