We are so excited to re-introduce a Guest Faculty member, Tara O’Donoghue, who will be bringing brand new programs to the Cactus Cancer Society community this fall! Read on to discover more about Tara.
Please introduce yourself! What’s your name, your role with CCS, and where are you located?
Hi CCS community, it’s Tara O’Donoghue with LOV Yoga (www.lov.yoga) and I’m a certified yoga therapist and teacher. It’s my passion to share my LOVe for yoga and make this life-changing practice accessible to everyone. I specialize in working with cancer survivor/thrivership as well as processing grief and trauma through practices such as breathwork, meditation, mindful movement, and self-reflection. Most of the yoga therapy work I do is online but I reside in Denver, Colorado.
How did you find or connect with Cactus Cancer Society?
I first connected with CCS when it was Lacuna Loft while teaching yoga in the AYA community over the past 5 years. During the pandemic, Lacuna Loft, Elephants and Tea and the Dear Jack Foundation collaborated to share the Mind, Body, Soul Series and I taught a yoga class. The first program I created and facilitated for CCS was Grief to Gratitude. This led to a second program called Get Your Groove Back, which will be starting its third run on October 5th this year! I am also excited to add a new monthly drop-in program to the mix this October called, Begin Again. We are also collaborating on a new program in the works for next spring…more to come!
What is your favorite Cactus Cancer Society program?
Tough decision. I’m not sure if it’s fair to say I love “Get Your Groove Back” more than “Grief to Gratitude” because they are like yin and yang/moon and sun. “Grief to Gratitude” allows participants to process grief and trauma in a safe space which takes a lot of vulnerability and courage. Looking honestly into the depths of grief, processing it and then moving forward with more gratitude is hard work AND it is solid groundwork for the other program I teach…Get Your Groove Back provides inspiration physically, mentally, creatively and spiritually while going through (or after) cancer treatment. Both programs are beneficial in beautiful ways!
How did you start practicing yoga and meditation?
I started the physical practice of yoga in 2009 when my first husband was diagnosed with cancer. There was a little studio walking distance from our home where I found a sense of balance and peace in the present moment that made me crave more. It was nearly 7-years years later, after he passed away, when I did my first yoga teacher training. There was greater emphasis on the 8-limbs of yoga which inspired me to begin a meditation practice. My mind was blown, “you mean yoga is NOT a work-out?!” I was amazed that I could do yoga simply by breathing consciously or while writing my journal. Now I LOVe to share the simple ways to incorporate yoga and mindfulness practice into the day – a little goes a long way and EVERYBODY can do it 🙂
Do you have a favorite yoga pose?
This is the most difficult decision I’ve made all day or even week! I often say the “pose is not the point,” meaning that you don’t have to strike a pose to do yoga (it’s true!). Yet reflecting on this answer makes me realize there truly is a point behind each pose! I have realized that the postures I avoid doing are usually the ones my body needs the most. I also love a variety of postures for different reasons. But if I have to pick one, it would probably be Downward Dog or Child’s Pose. Both of these stretch the shoulders and have a downward flowing energy. Sometimes I need a more energetic posture like Downward Dog to help me stretch to power through and other times I need to ground down and surrender in Child’s Pose to release tension and tears. If I am going to practice yoga, these poses will be included without a doubt!
If someone were to visit your area, what are your favorite spots you’d recommend?
Green Collective, Root Down, Sweet Cow, Sweet Bloom Coffee. O’Dells Brewery, US Thai Cafe, El Five, VooDoo Donuts, Bakery Four, Sushi Den
Shamelessly brag about one thing you’re really proud of!
In my past life I founded and operated Yeti’s Grind, a coffee shop with 2 locations in Eagle and Vail, Colorado. Nate, my first husband, was “the yeti” and we enjoyed a decade of slinging “small town comfort in a cup” aka coffee, to our beloved mountain-town communities. Nate passed away from metastatic melanoma when we were both 36 which was a blip in reality that made me reevaluate everything. I am just as “proud” of myself for following my intuition to sell our business after he passed to travel and find myself – my new identity, which led to yoga therapy.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
I have always struggled with favorites and absolutes in life (as evidenced by all of my answers 😉 My favorite color changes with my mood so I like “rainbows” Similarly, I feel like I am learning constantly, growing through what I go through. After really contemplating this, the best advice from multiple people throughout my life is “to follow my intuition.” There is way too much information out there at our fingertips so I mentally feel bombarded and overwhelmed sorting through all of it! Advice can be based upon other people’s perceptions, perspectives, preconceived notions and sometimes presumptions so learning to trust my own intuition is the most unbiased, most helpful advice I have received. Mindfulness practice is learning to follow my own intuition. Through my yoga therapy training and mindfulness coaching (1000+hours of learning) plus constant practice, there is plenty of advice that comes into consideration as well. Ultimately I try to let go and trust that I know which way to flow.
Thank you, Tara for chatting with us! To learn more about our Staff, Guest Faculty, Board, and Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Board, check out Our Team.