What to Expect in a Yoga Class for Cancer

I’m not sure I can do those crazy yoga poses.
Class is on Tuesday? I don’t know how I’ll feel that day.
I’m just not up for seeing people.

If you have cancer, or have had cancer, you may wonder if a yoga class is a good fit for you. Some oncologists recommend yoga as a complimentary practice in patients’ wellness plans. After all, yoga has been shown to be beneficial to some individuals who are receiving cancer care and others who are in remission from cancer. But all yoga classes are not the same. Look for classes that use words like adaptive, restorative, and gentle. Whether they meet online or in person, they are usually slower paced and focus more on the experience than what the poses (or asanas) look like.

You may also find yoga classes specifically for cancer. In a yoga class for those affected by cancer, you can expect to find a non-judgmental environment that includes breathing, gentle stretching, or greater relaxation. You are free to participate as much or as little as you prefer, including joining others in the physical asanas or in spirit. There is freedom to simply sit and learn to be with your body. In a yoga for oncology class, accommodations are easily made for ports, pumps, central lines, and other considerations.

You can also feel open about asking instructors if they are Registered Yoga Teachers or if they have experience or training in teaching yoga with those affected by cancer. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to receive Yoga for Cancer Teacher Training at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. I am honored and encouraged to bring yoga to the oncology community, including those facing cancer, their caregivers, and oncology healthcare providers.

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