In 2011 I completed a very special course run by Julie Friedeberger, a yoga teacher who suffered from breast cancer herself many years ago. She has taught others living with cancer ever since, and also shares her experience of how yoga supported her through this journey with yoga teachers all over the UK.
I spent a year working on a one-to-one basis with patients on the haematology ward at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, and then moved on to work closely with a MacMillan nurse to offer yoga practices to patients on the gynae-oncology ward as well as to outpatients of the Sussex Cancer Centre in Brighton. Many people were quite surprised to see a yoga teacher approach their bedside suggesting they practice with me. Without exception those who dared to try something new felt much better for it, and some continued to use the little I was able to teach in our brief encounter.
At present I offer 1:1 support to young people with cancer at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital on Tuesday mornings.
Many participants in my classes live with cancer and find support in their class, both through the compassionate company and through the yoga. They participate in whichever way is conducive to their changing situation. Some also choose to come for 1:1 tuition and work daily with a home practice.
If you would like to find out more about how yoga might support you please send me a message and I will reply to you as soon as I can.
Julie Friedeberger kindly shared what some of her students had to say about the way that yoga supported them. You may find it encouraging to read some of them:
Jane: ‘The after effects of the whole session – breathing, stretches, Yoga Nidra, chanting – are such that when it is over I often leave feeling stronger and lighter. There is new air in my body and life takes on a brighter hue. I feel very privileged to be part of this class and know that so many people with cancer would greatly benefit from a similar experience.’
Marianna: ‘Cancer, like any illness, can be seen as an invitation to heal ourselves on a deeper level. Yoga for me has been a very wonderful way to engage in this healing process. There is no striving in this class but increased listening to the body. Breathing becomes the strongest resource, a reminder of what is essential as well as a refuge for times of fear and pain or experiences of loneliness. I am so very thankful for yoga.’