When Kevin Naidoo was told by doctors that he had glaucoma in his left eye 12 months ago, he immediately grabbed his passport and drove to the airport.
For the 39-year-old Saskatoon yoga instructor, travelling had always been a way to deal with life's challenges. But that day, Naidoo decided not to get on a plane. Instead, he chose to stay in Saskatoon and begin the fight to save his vision.
"What became really clear to me in meditation one day was your eyes don't define you, your soul defines you."
- Kevin Naidoo, yoga instructor and owner of Yerrama Yoga Sanctuary in Saskatoon.
"It was a hard decision because travelling is my comfort zone. I feel the most free and the most me when I'm on the road. It was really difficult not to just jump and go but I knew my work was here and I needed to continue to do my work."
Naidoo has taught yoga for years and owns Yerrama Yoga Sanctuary in downtown Saskatoon. He continues to teach despite losing all vision in his left eye a few months ago.
"I used to have a lot of inversions in my practice," Naidoo explained while sitting cross-legged in his studio. "I haven't been able to do an inversion in eight months because it increases pressure into my eyes. So my physical practice has slowed down a lot."
Tough to take
Glaucoma is a complex eye disease that often damages the optic nervem which is what happened in Naidoo's left eye.
He has been working closely with doctors since being diagnosed but said the initial diagnosis was hard to hear.
"Especially when your doctor tells you that normal eye pressure is between 15 and 17 millimetres of mercury and my eye pressure was at 36. That's what caused the nerve in my left eye to disintergrate."
Naidoo has turned to meditation to make sense of what is happening to his eyesight. He said it has helped with not only finding inner peace, but with being comfortable accepting the kindness of others who want to help.
"Through meditation, I learned that I needed to receive too because there has to be a balance. You can't feel guilty about receiving."
Focusing on the right eye
In the past ten days, Naidoo has been working closely with his doctors to save his right eye. The optic nerve has begun to degenerate and Naidoo has lost peripheral vision in the eye.
He is on medication to slow the degeneration and has 65 per cent of use in eye.
"I started to get scared because I started to really see depreciation in my vision, especially with my depth perception and things like driving and even walking. I can see things have dissipated since my last visit, and it just made things become really real."
Despite these emotions, Naidoo continues to keep an incredible perspective on this situation.
He is sharing his story with groups of people in Saskatoon and continues to work on allowing his friends and family to support him on dark days through meditation and yoga.
"What became really clear to me in meditation one day was your eyes don't define you, your soul defines you. And that gave me a bit of lightness. It allowed me to just find softness within myself when that came."