Empowerment through Yoga for Breast-Cancer Patients
by Penny Powell, RYT-200, Life’s Journey Yoga & Wellness Center
If you’ve seen a copy of the October 2012 issue of “Yoga Journal” magazine, perhaps you noticed the “Staying Strong” story about Tari Prinster who “found personal empowerment through yoga” after her breast-cancer diagnosis.
The article written by Joelle Hann begins: “When Tari Prinster, 68, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, she found a yoga teacher to lead her in a yoga and meditation practice before each chemo session.” According to Yoga Journal, Prinster says, “Doing yoga made me feel like I was in charge rather than surrendering my body to the medical environment. It was empowering.”
After Prinster’s recovery in 2001, she went on to become a yoga teacher herself, founded a Yoga for Cancer (Y4C) program, and has trained “more than 450 teachers” in a style of yoga she created as suitable for breast-cancer patients.
Prinster not only traveled the journey of building strength and confidence through a yoga practice, but a strong immune system, too. On her website, tariprinster.com, one of her students explains: “I learned the science of why certain postures strengthen the immune system and why some should be avoided. She (Tari) addressed the emotional, mental and physical needs of someone with cancer and how to work with these needs.”
Barbe Kelly, RYT-500, and Shannon Clark, RYT-200, both yoga instructors at Life’s Journey Yoga & Wellness Center in Orange Park, have also been carefully trained to teach yoga to breast-cancer patients and survivors. Kelly and Clark were certified in this area through the Christina Phipps Foundation and use their training to support those dealing with breast cancer via a complimentary Pink Yoga class offered at Life’s Journey on the second Friday of each month from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
According to ChristinaPhippsFoundation.com: “The Christina Phipps Foundation provides specialized training to experienced yoga instructors enabling them to guide cancer patients and survivors through yoga therapy. A particular focus of the Christina Phipps Foundation has been on breast cancer, but the Foundation’s certified instructors work with all who have range of motion or pain limitations, regardless of their source. The Foundation’s training is conducted by physicians and other healthcare and yoga professionals.”
Pink Yoga classes led by well-trained yoga instructors are on the rise as yoga gains more and more credit for improving the quality of life for cancer patients. Students of Pink Yoga or Yoga-for-Cancer classes are finding that not only is the teacher-to-student guidance and support extremely helpful on the yoga mat, but the student-to-student support is invaluable, too. Many breast-cancer patients say that the opportunity to gather in a place as relaxing and supportive as a yoga studio with those who can relate, first-hand, to their conditions is certainly a breath of fresh air.
An FYI Living Health Writer at fyiliving.com explains that “a study done at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center examined the use of yoga in improving the quality of life in women who were undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer” and the findings “revealed that those in the study who incorporated yoga into their lives felt a significant improvement with the quality of their lives,” the quality of both their physical and mental health.
The above source goes on to say that “these beneficial effects are not simply because of the physical exercise facet of yoga. This probably occurs because of the increase in internal awareness because of relaxation brought on by pranayamas,” the breathing exercises well-known to bring calm, peace, clarity, and balance to participants of the mind-body-spirit practice of yoga.
FYI Living explains that the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center studied “61 women diagnosed with breast cancer who were scheduled to undergo radiotherapy.” Of the two groups that these women were divided into, the yoga group attended a 60-minute yoga class each week for six weeks. Additionally, they did a home yoga practice each day. The second group of women did no exercise, and the study’s measurements were done at the end of one week, one month, three months and upon the conclusion of the radiotherapy treatments.
Any guesses how the results turned out for these two groups in areas, such as “pain, sleep, fatigue, mental health (depression, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts),” as well as the patients abilities to cope with the disease?The results as told by fyiliving.com: “Significant improvement in both physical health and mental health parameters was noted in the first week in the participants from the yoga group. In fact, the scores were more than the baseline in the first week.
“After three months, the yoga group reported better levels of happiness and well-being on their questionnaires than the control group. Higher values indicated better coping with the disease.”For more details about this study, visit: http://www.fyiliving.com/research/benefits-of-yoga-for-breast-cancer-patients-undergoing-radiotherapy/#ixzz264lrnMBS
For additional information about cancer-coping mechanisms taught at Pink Yoga classes at Life’s Journey Yoga & Wellness Center, visit www.lifesjourneywellness.com, call (904) 276-3116 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (904) 276-3116 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The next Pink Yoga class will take place on October 12, 2012 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. A Meditation class, also beneficial for those dealing with cancer, is scheduled for October 31 from 7:40 – 8:30 p.m. Both classes will be taught by Barbe Kelly.