St. Elizabeth offers YCat Yoga to breast cancer patients as a way to extend treatment beyond traditional medicine and their instructor Tina Walter says it’s healing powers are making a big impact on patients.
“GENTLE YOGA” SERVICES: The YCat Yoga Therapy for Cancer Program, also known as gentle yoga, teaches patients slow movements, breathing and relaxation that align with cancer treatment limitations and personal goals. An important component of YCat Yoga, developed by an RN from evidence-based research, is to teach self-regulating techniques that can relieve the distressing side effects of cancer and improve sleep, mood, and coping.
YCAT YOGA CLASSES: YCat Yoga in a class format is standard practice and shows great benefits to patients. The instructor teaches mostly in chairs, and includes options for those who want to practice on the mat as well. She encourages safe movements to improve blood flow, range of motion, and flexibility in joints and muscles. In a friendly, welcoming environment, the instructor also teaches body awareness, guided imagery, relaxation and breathing practices, and explains the physiological benefits related to all.
PARTICIPANTS: Those in active treatment, survivors, care-givers and any support team are all welcome to participate in the yoga activities.
INFUSION WORK AND THE YOGA INTEGRATIVE THERAPIST: YCat Yoga also fits well into the infusion center model. After introductions and explanation of “gentle yoga”, the instructor asks patients in the infusion center if they are interested in participating in gentle yoga. In situations where yoga is likely to be misunderstood, the YCat instructor may ask if patients are interested in learning relaxation and stress reduction techniques, instead of calling what we do ‘yoga’. During chemotherapy / biotherapy treatment session, which may take a long time, the instructor provides patients with guided relaxation, breathing practices, and coping skills.
Offering YCat to patients and their caregivers in the infusion center benefits patients who cannot come to a special class. This yoga experience exposes them to the relaxation techniques they can use at home, and provides them with a sense of control over the care of their bodies. In addition, by talking with patients in the infusion center, the instructor has an opportunity to describe the activities and potential benefits of the YCat classes, and to dispel any misperceptions about the yoga classes.
Yoga at St. Elizabeth is not:
Q: What is YCat Yoga and what does it stand for?
A: YCat Yoga or Yoga for Cancer Therapy, is a safe, gentle chair yoga class personal and structured to honor each individual student exactly where they are in treatment. An important goal of YCat yoga, developed by an RN from evidence-based research, is to teach self-regulating techniques that can relieve the distressing side effects of cancer and improve sleep, mood, and coping.
Q: Who can come to class and how much does it cost?
A: Classes are free to all Cancer/chronic illness patients, their families and care givers.
Q: What Makes the YCat Yoga Program Different than Other Yoga Classes and can it really help me?
A: While most Yoga classes in the community are physically-based movement classes only, YCat encourages slow and gentle movements that activate the muscle's stretch receptors which improves blood flow and increases range of motion and flexibility in the joints and muscles. YCat teaches the similarities and distinctions between Yoga and exercise and never suggests or respects going for the burn or "pushing it" with either. Classes include the non-physical aspects of Yoga such relaxation, breathing, guided imagery and other ways to use the mind consciously for healing.
In recent studies, specific improvements have been documented with pain, anxiety, physical function and sleep quality.
Q: Is the class difficult like most yoga? I am not flexible. How is YCat different from other types of yoga?
A: YCat classes are gentle and mostly done in a chair. They are personally designed to meet the needs of every student at all levels of functioning and capability. YCat addresses specific issues such as fatigue, neuropathy and lymphedema.
Q: Isn’t practicing yoga something spiritual and a religion?
A: Yoga is not a religion. It is a science and an art that was developed thousands of years ago as a natural healing modality.
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