After two rounds of surgery, six months of chemo and five weeks of radiotherapy, breast cancer patient Edith Maling (pictured, with a gorgeous wig) was stiff and low on energy. Now, with treatment behind her she’s started yoga classes at Lifehouse and is beginning to feel better.
“After chemo, I felt so old, everything had changed so much,” she said. “Yoga makes such a difference to me. It really does help in people’s recovery.”
Margery Hellman has been running yoga classes at Lifehouse for people living with cancer for over a year now. The emphasis of her classes is connecting the mind and body through gentle movement, breathing practices, deep relaxation and mindfulness meditation. Each class is adapted to patients’ needs; as Edith said: “Margery takes into account that we’re all in recovery.”
Edith is not only feeling physically better, with higher energy levels and increased movement, but has noticed psychological benefits as well. “I’ve been learning about meditation and quietness, as well as enjoying the camaraderie with other patients. It’s a way of talking to other people who have been down the same road.”
There are many recognised benefits of yoga for people undergoing treatment for cancer, and a raft of studies demonstrating these (see the links at the bottom). Margery’s list of benefits includes:
- Yoga helps detoxify the body – the gentle pumping and squeezing action of muscles helps activate the lymphatics and improves the removal of waste products.
- Yoga strengthens the body – the variety of postures used during yoga practice create resistance and enhance functional strength.
- Yoga increases range of movement and flexibility.
- Yoga keeps the spine strong – an essential link in preventing and managing osteoporosis and lower back pain.
- Yoga strengthens the immune system – research is now demonstrating this important benefit of yoga and meditation.
- Yoga helps manage pain – calming the nervous system and creating a mindful presence is an effective way to manage pain.
- Yoga reduces fear and anxiety – deep relaxation and gentle movement trigger the relaxation response well known to improve mental health.
To join Margery at one of her yoga classes, come along to the LivingRoom at Lifehouse on Fridays at 12 noon. Sessions are $14. For more information, please call the LivingRoom on 8514 0038.
To read more about some of the studies, check out: