Yulady Saluti never stops moving. She is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor who has appeared in DVDs with Tara Stiles and Deepak Chopra. She has rocked her yoga on television with Sadie Nardini, she is Skype’s Brand Ambassador, teaches at four different yoga studios, and is doing all this while taking care of six kids and a devoted husband. After battling and overcoming a serious colon rectal medical condition, which required she live with a colostomy for four years, Yulady dove head first into a new, healthy life filled with yoga and studies in Ayurveda. It was only three years into her practice (and during her 20th surgery related to her former illness) that her doctors discovered that she had Stage 2 breast cancer at the age of thirty-two. Yulady is documenting her journey as a mommy-yogi-with-cancer on her Youtube channel: YouTube.com/YuladySaluti.
Asana: I’ve read about your ‘pre-yoga’ story. Would you like to share more about it?
Yulady: I found yoga like most people at a time in my life when I was truly suffering. I had significant medical issues relating to my colon and rectum and was at a very low point in my life. I really didn’t know where to turn and felt quite hopeless. My colon/rectal problems were at their peak and I was terribly depressed. I had already overcome drug addiction and knew if I could find the right exit strategy for my “suffering” I could move forward with starting to feel better about my self and my future. Enter yoga and I was saved. Not immediately, but there was light in my life again and I felt invigorated.
Asana: How did you discover yoga? And how did it help you through the difficult time?
Yulady: See question one above. I discovered yoga like many people, looking for a killer workout. Who knew that the mental benefits of yoga would quickly surpass the physical benefits.
Asana: What did it take to transform yourself from a “Why Me?’ person to a dedicated yoga practitioner?
Yulady: I don’t think the term “why me” ever really applied to my thinking. My anger towards my situation was much more complex than such a simple thought process. I suffered a far worse general feeling of worthlessness and inadequacy. Yoga stripped away those layers of me that were blocking me from my true self and ultimately my true potential to help others.
Asana: What makes you choose to become a yoga teacher?
Yulady: I became a yoga teacher so that I could share my experience, my strength and my hope for a better, more serene existence. I found that I was bursting at the seams to share the thing that saved me from myself. That thing was yoga and becoming a teacher allowed me to further immerse myself into the yoga life.
Asana: How did you deal with it when you’re diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at 32 which is a pretty young age, physically and mentally?
Yulady: I guess like any other person diagnosed with this insidious disease. At first I was incredibly angry. I had already suffered with my health so much that the diagnosis really threw me for a loop. Slowly, and with the help of family and friends, I come to understand that I was in fact chosen to carry this burden. My goal was to help educate women, young and old, about the importance of early detection and treatment. I became a champion for urging women to check themselves regularly for breast cancer.
Asana: How did your yoga practice evolve during your rehabilitation of breast cancer?
Yulady: My yoga practice was significantly modified during my rehabilitation. I had a double mastectomy and ended up working with other yoga teachers, developing yoga classes and sequences that catered to people with breast cancer. I learned new ways to open my heart and by so doing expressed much more compassion than I thought I could muster for the suffering of other people. I did not want other women to feel alone and without help.
Asana: You’ve worked with the renowned yogi photographer Robert Sturman for some amazing photos back in your rehabilitation, could you tell us the story and message behind?
Yulady: Robert is a dear friend and asked me to pose for a shot for a major yoga publication. I always admired Robert’s work and we eventually met and struck up an incredible friendship. We decided to share the raw images of my scared breasts to other women so that they need not be afraid to love their bodies just the way they are today. Ravaged by cancer? No problem, you are still you and more importantly, still full of grace and beauty.
Asana: As a breast cancer survivor, what would you like to educate the female about the disease?
Yulady: The strongest message I can pass along to your readers regarding breast cancer is that early detection is the key to a good result. I tell all my yogis and followers to “check your tatas!” and many women do, which means my struggle was not in vain.
Asana: Do you have any plans on promoting the breast cancer awareness and the benefits of yoga for cancer patients?
Yulady: I am already a huge proponent of promoting breast cancer awareness and you can bet my take on this disease is that yoga can ease the pain and worry. It is a tool, like chemo or radiation in the battle against breast cancer. Use this tool wisely and you wont be disappointed.
Asana: Aside from yoga practice, what do you do in your leisure time?
Yulady: My leisure time is spent caring for my children and husband. Unfortunately, I am constantly getting sick and my family suffers as a result. I try and be extremely present, no matter what is going on with my health so that my children do not have to see me suffer.
To read the full article please download our Asana Journal App or purchase Issue 158 February 2016.