Many cancer survivors attest to the benefits of yoga during and after cancer treatment, but those who have not yet tried the gentle practice may not know where to start. Yoga Bear, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing cancer survivors with more opportunities for wellness and healing through free yoga classes, is here to help. With more than 120 partner yoga studios across the country, the organization has already brought yoga to more than 300 survivors.
Board member and breast cancer survivor Jean Di Carlo-Wagner, MA, RYT (http://web.mac.com/yoga4cancersurvivors), offers up this yoga pose as a taste of what the practice can offer.
Tree pose, modified by lying down, is a yoga posture used in Yoga for Cancer Survivors classes for many purposes. Postures draw on the energy of the natural world, which they reflect. With the spine supported by the earth, one leg is straight from our hips and shows our roots to the earth; the bent leg begins our journey from our roots, and our arms are branches into the heavens as we reach toward the nourishment of the sun. Turning the head gently allows the spine to rotate, as we contemplate where we have come from and where we are growing. The benefits of tree pose are connecting mind, body, and spirit and using the breath as a vehicle to unite these life forces for our journey through survivorship.
Body benefits: Hip opener, spinal rotation, neck release, expanded upper airways, and range-of-motion stretch for arms and shoulders.
Beat Cancer Boot Camp
Tucson wife and mom Anita Kellman, 51, had worked in the medical field for nearly 30 years as a clinical liaison for patients undergoing biopsies and other procedures, when at an outdoor Navy Seals–style “boot camp” class she met a woman who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Inspired by her new friend and the obvious benefit of the class in her recovery, Anita, a fitness enthusiast, adapted the boot camp techniques she had learned to create an intensive support group built around physical fitness—and Tucson’s first Beat Cancer Boot Camp was born. With multiple weekly sessions in a local park, the boot camp is held on a custom-designed exercise course, which offers participants fresh air and freedom to move. Anita does not charge and is not compensated for her classes. Her mission is to see this powerful program expand across the country to empower cancer survivors to take charge of their health while conditioning their bodies and minds for healing—free of charge.