Adaptive Exercise Can Have Benefits Following a Cancer Diagnosis


A breast cancer survivor writes about the benefits she has experienced from adaptive exercise, such as yoga.

Being a breast cancer survivor is facilitated by being flexible and adapting to my body and needs post-cancer. I am gratefully a six-year survivor and I have learned flexibility is key due to changes I sometimes experience after breast cancer.

One such change I have experienced post-cancer is lymphedema (an excess of fluid in tissues that causes swelling). I have experienced lymphedema in my right arm but also in the breast, which is affected by the loss of lymph nodes. The experience of lymphedema is uncomfortable, but I find that stretching and participating in adaptive yoga helps me to continue to be active and combat symptoms. I have found at times traditional Vinyasa yoga may not always be supported in my body, but I can modify my yoga to be seated. I can also practice in a manner in which I transition to a chair, which essentially brings the ground up a supportive level I can reach to.

I thankfully completed training that further assisted me in learning about adaptive exercise and yoga in early 2020, just as COVID-19 was impacting many of our lives. By further enhancing my ability to offer adaptive exercises classes, I expanded upon my own practice. I learned during COVID-19 that some individuals were not going to be able to practice yoga in their traditional setting, so I completed my training in chair yoga and began offering online classes on Zoom, not only for my own benefit, but to help fellow cancer survivors and other individuals potentially needing a more adaptive practice.

The adaptive class I have been working on for cancer survivors has thankfully caught on. Thanks to LympheDIVAs, I have a free sponsored online class, Chair and Standing Yoga for Cancer, that I offer monthly on Zoom. The sponsorship helps cover the cost of Zoom and a bit of my time as I would otherwise be teaching a paid class elsewhere.

My time is limited because I also work full-time, but I appreciate the opportunity to help fellow survivors with their health and wellness and hope to see programming grow as needs of our community grow.

It is my belief that adaptive exercise, including adaptive yoga, will grow as our population ages and as more cancer survivors explore its benefits to help meet their needs post-cancer. I most certainly enjoy the benefits of an adaptive yoga class.

I teach the class to seniors at an adult living facility who are also looking to maintain wellness as they age. Ideally, chair yoga is for everyone, but the ability to adapt chair yoga makes it more accessible to individuals with any special needs post-cancer or injury.

I encourage individuals to explore ways to stay active and maybe give chair yoga a try. It is great not only post-cancer, but is taking off in many corporate settings as well, as it is easy to practice in a home or office environment as needed.

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