Monday, July 1, 2013

He didn't make an "extraordinary comeback," he became a new person

WARRIOR POSE, a war correspondent’s memoir, how Yoga literally saved my life

By Brad Willis, aka Bhava Ram
Book review by John A. Sarkett

I tried a yoga class once.  It was ok, just ok.  I stretched and strained to stretch some more.  It didn’t really make a dent on my psyche.  I never went back, content instead with my usual regimen of weightlifting, running, cycling, tennis.

Came across this book in a yoga magazine distributed in the gym.  The title caught my eye;  could yoga really “save someone’s life?”

Indeed it can, and indeed it did.  TV reporter Brad Willis suffered a calamitous fall, broke his back, and navigated around on it for some seven years (it was fractured), until his vertebrae finally cracked apart, the pain became unbearable and he was now in sudden risk of spinal injury and paralysis.  Surgery didn’t work, and what was previously a large daily ingestion of potent pain pills, now became enormous.  He would wash these down with alcoholic beverages.  In short order, he was addicted to pills, alcohol, and food (his weight ballooned to 225).

He was barely able to walk or sit;  when he went anywhere, he had to take a portable recliner.

As if this wasn’t enough, he was afflicted with throat cancer, most likely gotten from covering the Gulf War, where U.S. troops used anti-tank ordnance loaded with spent uranium.  Willis’ research found that some 100,000 troops were affected by the radioactivity, some 10,000 had already died.  Would this be his fate?
The back pain was unbearable, and his course of chemotherapy:  grueling.  Motivated by a love for his son, he checked into a pain clinic, where he was introduced to Eastern modalities, such as acupuncture, and most significantly:  yoga.  What began as an interest, grew into an obsession.

After two years of ever-increasing practice (at home and in classes), fasting, meditation, he lost all his excess weight (dropping at one point to 140 lbs), stabilized his back, and got his life back.  The cancer, vanquished by Western medical treatments, did not recur.  The former network TV correspondent turned yoga teacher, Brad Willis had not only made an extraordinary comeback, in fact, that appellation doesn’t do his transformation justice:  instead, we’d prefer to say, and he would concur, he became an entirely different person.

Certainly one of the most impressive tranformative stories I have ever come across.  You will find it hard to put down.

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