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Recent studies have shown that breast cancer survivors who practice yoga are less stressed, less depressed, and less exhausted. (See this article.) Of course, it takes skilled teachers to lead and encourage students so they can reap the benefits. There are many teachers who, through their own experiences and their experiences working with cancer survivors, have learned to use yoga as therapy. We’ve featured several of their stories on Buzz this month. Here are a few more teachers who are helping women use yoga to heal—and even thrive—after breast cancer.
Breast cancer among Chinese women is rare. So it’s unusual that yoga teacher Cora Wen, whose family is Chinese, has a family history of the disease that goes back to her great grandmother. Wen’s experience seeing family and friends battle breast cancer has affected her approach to teaching, too. “Yoga is good because we deal with the emotional aspect of the person instead of just the physical,” Wen says. One of her contributions is a Down Dog variation she affectionately calls Pink Dog in honor of breast cancer awareness. She taught the pose to a survivor friend, who realized it helped her access a part of her body she hadn’t been able to in three years, since remission. Wen began showing the pose to other survivors, who gave similar feedback. She’s also been experimenting with using passive rocking to help cancer patients. Learn more about Wen, and her work with yoga therapy at corawen.com.
When yoga teacher and breast cancer survivor Tari Prinster began her practice at age 50 to help her deal with menopause symptoms she soon realized it could help with much more than that. “I found yoga a powerful tool to manage the daily challenges of cancer treatments as well as the side effects and life-long vulnerabilities they create,” she wrote on her website y4c.com. “I discovered yoga was more than a way to stay healthy. It gave me emotional support and spiritual comfort so needed during recovery.” Prinster teaches yoga for cancer classes in New York and is writing a book about her experience, Yoga Prescription: Using Yoga to Reclaim Your Life During and After Cancer. She also leads teacher trainings. For more information, visit y4c.com.
If you’re looking for yoga and breast cancer resources online, your search will likely take you to BreastCancerYoga.com. The site offers links to cancer research, pose and modification ideas, and videos for breast cancer survivors. The site is the brainchild of Diana Ross, a KaliRay TriYoga certified teacher and breast cancer survivor, who saw a need for a practice that deals with not just recovery but lymphedema management and cancer-related fatigue. Ross teaches in Northport, NY. “I feel satisfied when someone says to me that they feel better, stronger, and optimistic,” she said. “I want to make a difference in someone’s recovery.”