Yoga for cancer: Befriending the body
Yoga for Cancer addresses cancer head-on.
“We’re not afraid to say the “C” word (cancer) in class, and we encourage each other through compassionate self-awareness,” says class instructor Stephanee Howell. “Unfortunately, many of us have been touched by cancer. This class is a therapeutic way for people to deal with their fear, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.”
Stephanee Howell teaches “Yoga for Cancer” which she calls “Yoga from the Heart,” and is offered through the Sentara Cancer Network. She has been a practitioner for more than 15 years. She is a retired critical care nurse. Stephanee has a spiritual desire to give back. “My goal is to encourage ongoing physical, mental, and spiritual practice that builds community amongst cancer patients and their caregivers.”
In this yoga class, Stephanee focuses primarily on breath work and body awareness. For students with cancer, there are several physical health benefits including: building bone mass, improved cardiovascular and immune systems, lymph flow and deep relaxation. Stephanee says that yoga can be very healing.
“It’s a way for patients and caregivers to reframe their journey and to feel empowered,” she says. The class fosters a safe environment for students to share their personal stories with other patients and creates a sense of community, a natural extension of a support group atmosphere.
Yoga for Cancer is for patients and caregivers of all experience levels – beginners are always welcome. Stephanee says, “I want my students to practice at their own personal pace that respects where they are physically and emotionally. Once students are able to cultivate self-awareness, they learn to befriend their body in a new way – and that’s where the healing begins.”