Yoga helps cancer survivors breathe easier

Mon Sep 21, 2009 6:01am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK, Sept 21 (Reuter Life!) - Gale McCombie was sitting in a hospital waiting room when she spotted a brochure offering free yoga classes for cancer patients.

But zapped of strength and confidence after undergoing grueling treatments for breast cancer, McCombie found the thought of entering any exercise class intimidating.

"Chemo left me in a pretty bad state as far as my physical ability. But everybody talked about the importance of physical activity, and yoga seemed to be a good start," the 50-year-old Canadian said in an interview

"I took my mom with me for comfort. I didn't know what to expect. But the others had cancer, too. And the facilitator made sure everyone was comfortable with props, modifications, whatever it took. After the first class I was fine."

McCombie joined Yoga Thrive, a community-based program created specifically for cancer survivors that is spreading throughout Canada and parts of the United States.

The brainchild of Dr. Nicole Culos-Reed, a cancer and exercise researcher at the University of Calgary, and Susi Hately, a yoga instructor, Yoga Thrive provides gentle, therapeutic yoga to people at all stages of cancer treatment.

"Our instructors know both cancer and yoga," Culos-Reed explained. "They not only learn the seven- week yoga program, they also learn about cancer treatments and side-effects."

Culos-Reed, herself a yogi for seven years, believes the 5,000-year-old practice, which strives to align breath with movement, is particularly suited to cancer patients.   Continued...

<p>People participate in a YogaWorks class in Santa Monica, California in this handout picture taken early 2009. REUTERS/Handout</p>