Misfits: Yoga for cancer patients and their caregivers via The Washington Post

Posted by on 10/11/11 in Uncategorized

“You have nothing to do,” instructor Susan Young reminded her yoga students last week as they lay on their backs in savasana. And at that moment, she was right — no one in the room was responsible for doing anything other than enjoying the peaceful sensation of being in a yoga position known as relaxation pose.

Most of the time, it's a vastly different situation for Young's students at Hope Connections for Cancer Support. Since 2007, the Bethesda center has offered free programs to help participants cope with the daily demands of life with cancer. But the center's support groups, lectures and mind-body offerings are not just for cancer patients. The programs are also open to their loved ones, who, as caregivers, run themselves ragged organizing the household, managing medications, serving as chauffeur and riding a roller coaster of emotions.

“Instead of being pulled by disease and appointments, yoga is very calming,” says 61-year-old Deborah Marino of Gaithersburg, whose husband got a diagnosis of cancer of the esophagus and liver in June. Tuesday is his day to get chemo. Wednesday is now her day to go to Hope Connections. “I see it in my future for some time to come,” she says.

Stretching, strengthening and, above all, centering are components of many area cancer programs, including Life With Cancer in Fairfax, Wellness House of Annapolis and the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, which just expanded its facility on U Street in the District. All of these programs open their classes to caregivers as well, not only so they can provide support, but also in recognition of the burdens they're often shouldering.

“Sometimes it's harder on the caregivers because they feel helpless. They would do anything to take on that pain,” says Smith Center Executive Director Shanti Norris. “They feel guilty. And they don't feel like they should be resting.”

Read more here via the Washington Post

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