Last Saturday morning I attended a baby shower to celebrate a new life. This Saturday morning I attended a funeral to honor a beautiful life. One of my fellow yogis, Jennifer McManus, lost a long fight with colon cancer on Tuesday morning. She leaves behind two young boys and her husband of 15 years.
When I started practicing at Y2 Yoga, Jen worked the front desk. I considered her to be a yoga angel because she was so beautiful and had a stunning and graceful practice. We would shower and get ready in the dressing room after the 6:30 a.m. class and I started getting to know her and learned that she had cancer. One thing that amazed me was that despite everything she was going through, she remained positive and a radiant source of light and energy for all those around her.
I went through teacher training at the studio and began teaching. Jen was one of the first of the famously tough 9:15 a.m.-ers to support me and attend my classes. She was in and out of the studio between treatments and I always considered it a gift to have her in class. When I was going through personal struggles last year, she reached out to me and offered wisdom and encouragement. She took a genuine interest in helping me even with everything she had to worry about herself. She was truly selfless and loving.
As Jen got sicker and sicker we saw her less at the studio. This did not stop her from maintaining her daily practice. She wanted to write a guest post on my blog about how much her yoga helped her get through her fight with cancer. She would practice on her back deck in the heat of hot summer days or in her bathroom with a space heater when the weather was cold, making up her own sequences, breathing and moving the best that she could.
We kept in contact through facebook and she messaged me once to tell me she was in treatment in Tulsa and met with a nutritionist who wanted her to increase her protein intake. He recommended that she try this recipe for overnight oats with Greek yogurt for breakfast and she laughed and told him that was her yoga teacher’s blog.
We kept an inspiration board for her at the studio with the photo above and this quote from her. I saw it each time I exited and entered the room to practice and teach.
Y2 Yoga is in the process of expanding and announced on Tuesday that we will have a Zen Garden in the new space to remember the strength and courage of our fellow yogis.
I have said this time and again but my gratitude is never ending for the amazing community of yogis that I am a part of. I’m so thankful that we love, support and uplift each other through good and bad times. That we can laugh together, cry together, practice and sweat together. My thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer, her family and all those who are struggling with this truly horrible disease.