Taking Care of Yourself

A Little R and R

Alan Kaye and Brianna Welke on why YOU can do yoga….right now

We’re stressed and tired, aren’t we? Our jobs, the daily commute, world turmoil, an endless parade of conflict and disaster (I’m writing this a day after Superstorm Sandy made landfall in the northeastern U.S.). Hectic lives, made all the more so as our pockets bulge with phones and gadgets that make it hard to truly tune out and relax. 

Now add to all that the burden of coping with health issues (including cervical cancers and pre-cancers, of course). We need help….STAT!

We’re in luck. We were fortunate to chat recently with Alan Kaye and Brianna Welke, and they have tips and suggestions for anyone (especially cancer patients) needing to slow down, take a breath (or two or three), and connect with the spiritual wellspring within. Mr. Kaye, who founded the National Cervical Cancer Coalition along with his wife Randi, is a certified yoga instructor who also serves on ASHA’s Board of Directors. Ms. Welke, a practicing yogi for more than eight years, is a graduate of Samadhi Yoga in Seattle and teaches vinyasa-inspired hatha yoga classes. Both Mr. Kaye and Ms. Welke are based in Los Angeles.

What benefits does yoga offer?

The exercise poses (asana) and breathing (pranayama) in yoga are tools of that bring a sense of balance and calm to a person’s life, especially as we move through the stress and challenges we face on our path in life.

What do we know about the value of yoga with cancer patients specifically?

A good place to review what we know about how yoga can help cancer patients is on the National Institute of Health’s website for complementary and alternative medicine at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/. Also, the American Cancer Society has good background at http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/mindbodyandspirit/yoga.

Some  evidence-based studies and peer-review items on yoga and cancer have shown that relaxation and calming techniques help a person to be more mindful, calm, and relaxed  as they go through the process of treating (fighting) their cancer.  Stress can be a challenge even when things are fine, and especially so during difficult times.  Reducing stress enhances quality of life, so yoga and other relaxation tools can help the cancer patient and the caregivers as they go through the challenges of battling cervical cancer and persistent pre-cancers, too.  As a tool to help reduce stress, improve physical mobility, improve coping skills and reduce stress, yoga offers a balanced and calm upside.

For anyone interested in yoga, where do you recommend they start?

The websites mentioned above are good places to start, as is the YOGA JOURNAL, especially their pages on yoga & cancer: http://www.yogajournal.com/health/126.Patients can also check with their cancer center to see if classes are offered.

What’s a quick exercise anyone can do, even a beginner?

--Start with just two minutes in a comfortable position – bed, chair, or floor.

--Begin with the breath. Live in the moment.

--Notice your breathing, follow it in and out. Just see what comes up in your mind.

--As you feel your breath as it enters your body, and follow it for a couple of minutes, bring the gaze of your mind inward. As thoughts pop up, don’t judge or react, just let them float through. You’re simply observing them, that’s all. Let go of things in the past, whether from this morning or years ago. Also let go of future ideas. Come to the present moment. This moment – it’s real- embrace it.

--After you get to a point where you are able to let go in your mind, move on to the body. Relax from the crown of head to soles of your feet. Make a very real connection. You can even create a short phrase, a “mantra,” to repeat. Something as simple as “let it go” will work!

Visit Brianna Welke online at https://www.facebook.com/briannawelkeyoga

Follow Alan Kaye at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=584017910&;fref=ts


Need Support? NCCC Can Help!

Last year I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and treated (hysterectomy and chemo). I’ve learned much from your site and while I appreciate the information, I’d love to interact with someone rather than just reading page after page. There’s no NCCC chapter near me; what do you suggest?

Finding support is so important. Beyond the great support of family and friends, it can also be helpful to connect with others who are going through something similar. NCCC has partnered with Inspire to bring you an online forum for discussion, information, and support. The National Cervical Cancer Coalition Community has hundreds of discussions across many different topics, including testing, treatment, emotional and relationship issues. Recent discussions include:

We would be pleased to have you join us, so we hope to connect with you soon in the NCCC Inspire communities!