Author: Charley Hickey is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross & Fremantle, Perth. She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.
You can read a bit more about yoga therapy and how it differs from general group yoga classes here
People seek out yoga therapy for all kinds of reasons, that’s true. However, I’m sure other yoga therapists would agree that cancer is a common one. We see people in all stages including first diagnosis, during treatment and afterwards. It’s important to seek out a suitably qualified yoga therapist or yoga teacher. Preferably one who has additional training or experience dealing with clients going through cancer. A search on the Australian Association of Yoga Therapists or Yoga Australia website is a good starting point. If a teacher has been recommended to you, you could simply ask for their experience and training in the area of cancer wellness. Good yoga therapists do not at all mind these types of questions, in fact, I’d say we expect it!
I am very fortunate that one of my mentor’s during my yoga therapy studies was locally based Naturopath, Yoga Therapist & Teacher Trainer, Chandrika Gibson ND MWell (Owner at Surya Health http://www.suryahealth.com.au ) . I would class her as Perth’s leading expert on merging the fields of yoga and cancer wellness. She works tirelessly in each of these fields whilst also finding time to train yoga therapists through the Living Yoga Therapy Program (http://www.livingyogatherapy.com)
I feel confident that it’s possible for those diagnosed with cancer to practice yoga at any stage of their diagnosis. For many, private yoga therapy sessions are best to begin with. This helps to assess which practices might be suitable. This can then be adapted as treatment progresses or symptoms change. For others an initial consultation can be useful to assess their ability to join in at a group class. Group classes are often possible and have the added benefit of sangha; a community of like-minded individuals, even if they don’t all have cancer.
Here is a first hand account kindly provided by one of my lovely yoga therapy clients Liana. Her story is one of moving on after her cancer treatment and how yoga therapy helped her to do that.
Yoga Therapy – A Cancer Survivors Story
“I came to yoga therapy after two years of heavy treatment for two different conditions, including breast cancer. The treatment had left me cured, but weak and with a host of physical problems.
Previously I had done many years of yoga and wished to come back to a practice. A yoga therapist is both skilled in yoga and also trained in the assessing of individual’s health needs: this sounded like the perfect option for me.
Yoga therapy was something I actively sought out as it met my current needs. I have also had great assistance from both mainstream and alternative therapies.
I wished to have an accurate assessment of what I could safely accomplish in my current state of health. I was looking for a gentle, safe practice I could begin at home. The practice that was designed for me was exactly right and very beneficial.
The biggest gain from my yoga therapy session was a renewed trust in my body and how to safely extend my physical activities.”
Thanks so much to Liana for allowing us to share her experiences. I hope it encourages others who are in a similar situation to give yoga or yoga therapy a try.