Yoga Therapy for Cancer at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
As a fully qualified Yoga Therapist I have been teaching yoga classes and working individually with patients at the Chris O Brien Lifehouse a state of the art cancer centre in the heart of Sydney for the past 3 years. I teach Yoga in the Living Room a purpose built Supportive Care centre that offers not only yoga but specialist Exercise Physiology, Oncology Acupuncture, Massage, Reflexology, Mindfulness Meditation and Qi Gong.
The Practitioners in the Living Room work as part of a team headed by a Specialist Supportive Care Physician. The therapies offered assist those living with Cancer to improve their quality of life and are available to inpatients, outpatients and cancer survivors.
“Cancer steals your breath, Yoga gives it back”
Tari Prinster, Yoga 4 Cancer
A steadily growing body of research shows Yoga during and after Cancer treatment improves:
- Energy levels
- Fitness levels
- Sleep quality
- Reduced inflammation and improved immune function
- Feelings of control and well being
- Management of Lymphedema
A recent systematic review of the literature on the evidence based use of Integrative Therapies during and after breast cancer treatment by The Society for Integrative Oncology endorses Yoga as evidence based for stress management, anxiety, depression, and quality of life.
I currently teach 2 classes at Lifehouse which are well attended by both people having treatment and those that have finished their treatment. The classes are a combination of gentle breath centred movement, breathing practices, relaxation (Yoga Nidra and Irest ) and meditation . Some of my students have been attending for several years and continue to attend after they finish treatment. Some have formed lasting friendships through attending Yoga at Lifehouse and benefit from the support of others who have gone through the cancer experience.
The Yoga classes are gentle and tailored to the individual. I often recommend modifications for students to ensure their safety and ability to fully engage with the Yoga Practice. I also offer one to one Yoga Therapy for people who require a more individualised approach. Attending Yoga at Lifehouse means you have access to the support of a team including our Supportive Care Physician; and that I am able to work closely with your Oncologist and other treatment providers.
Yoga during Chemotherapy
Recent research is demonstrating the benefits of exercise during Chemotherapy on the immune system and cancer fighting cells. Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that promotes maintenance of fitness and triggers the Relaxation Response which is well documented to support immune function and reduce the impact of stress on the body. My students have found coming to yoga during their treatment to be very helpful for both physical and mental well-being. Outcome measures taken before and after my yoga classes show consistent improvements in measures such as mood, energy, pain reduction and overall well- being after the yoga class.
Yoga and survivorship
Many of my yoga students are Cancer survivors. Yoga offers survivors a chance to improve their fitness and create the inner environment for a relaxed body and mind as they move back into work and family routines. Life after cancer treatment poses many challenges including; side effects from treatment, concerns about the future and the need to evaluate life circumstances in light of these changes.
A regular yoga practice offers time and space to connect with yourself in a peaceful, joyful and kind way. The benefits of a regular yoga practice flow into your life off the mat helping you to relax more, appreciate the simple pleasures and navigate the inevitable ups and downs of life.
Here is what some of my students have said about attending my yoga classes at Lifehouse:
“Margery’s classes are the best I’ve done. Like yoga, she knows what your body and mind need… your role is to take the down-time to allow a path to restoration and calm to naturally evolve.” ML
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was so glad to hear that Lifehouse offered yoga classes. They were pivotal in getting me through chemotherapy & radiation.
Even when I didn’t feel great & couldn’t do much they helped with my mood & generally got me through all my treatment.
Margie was able to tailor each class to everyone’s individual needs so I would definitely encourage anyone going through cancer treatment to give Margie’s yoga classes a go!” MM
“By doing these gentle stretches I find the classes give me more energy , have made me stronger , physically and the bonus is that I am able to manage my stress levels much better” NP