Monday, January 04, 2016


Learning about the many benefits of yoga

Yoga has been around for thousands of years, but lately there seems to be a huge surge in popularity. Perhaps this is a result of our increasingly stressful times. For those few who are not familiar with it, yoga is a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.

There are many types of yoga, from the peaceful hatha to the high-intensity power yoga. All types take your workout to a level of mind-body connection. It can help you to relax and focus while gaining flexibility and strength. Yoga can also boost your mood, which may account for why so many people are trying it these days. Another benefit of practicing yoga is that it is low-impact and doesn’t put stress on the joints.

I have to admit I was curious about yoga, and have practiced it at intervals over the past years. It was amazing to me how focused and present I needed to be to keep the balanced poses, but it certainly gets easier with each successive session, especially if done consistently.

Yoga can also be gentle and restorative to help recover flexibility and motion, stamina and a sense of well being.

My friend and nurse colleague Amy Dunion of the Backus Center for Healthcare Integration is helping to coordinate a gentle yoga series for people recovering from the effects of cancer and cancer treatment, which will be led by Carol Klammer. I asked Amy to tell me a little about why it is particularly beneficial for those challenged with cancer.

“Yoga can have a huge impact on every part of a person’s life who has suffered the effects of cancer," she said. "Many cancer centers offer yoga because it can help ease anxiety, insomnia, pain, problems with mobility and movement, and regain a sense of feeling whole again. Many people have said they felt relaxed for the first time or present in their life in a new way. It’s a chance to reclaim life; to recover and discover a feeling of vitality and peace that may have been lost. One woman in a yoga class said she had forgotten that she was beautiful and a man added that he didn’t know what it felt like to let go of stress and truly relax before yoga. Yoga is good medicine."

If you or a loved one is fighting cancer, call (855) HHC-HERE to find a yoga program being offered near you, and join those already enjoying these many benefits.

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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