Yoga is a form of low-impact exercise that involves the practice of movements, postures and deep breathing to promote a calm, clear mind and a state of relaxation. In treating cancer, yoga has been proven to improve quality of life by alleviating some side effects of treatment, such as depression, insomnia, pain, fatigue and anxiety.

How does yoga help?

Yoga techniques affect the body by quieting down the sympathetic nervous system, which is the “fight or flight” response, and engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells the body that it can relax.

Yoga has been proven to elicit the “relaxation response,” a term coined by Harvard Medical School researcher Herbert Benson to describe a phenomenon in which the following physiological changes take place:

  • Metabolism decreases
  • Heart rate slows
  • Muscle tension reduces
  • Breathing rate slows
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Chemicals associated with stress, such as cortisol and adrenalin, are reduced

Fox Chase offers a gentle, chair-based yoga class for cancer patients, their family members and caregivers. 

Our class is taught by a certified yoga therapist who has experience with cancer patients.  She can accommodate a range of abilities and limitations.  The class focuses on breath and relaxation while adapting poses and movements to meet the needs of the individual.  The class emphasizes the stress reduction aspects of yoga through breathing techniques, meditation, deep relaxation and mental imagery to help guide participants to a state of peaceful awareness.

The Yoga Program for patients and families is also open to employees, who face the daily challenges of providing cancer care and whose well-being is also integral to the patient experience here at Fox Chase.

Employees who cannot attend the entire session may join the last half hour consisting of Divine Sleep Yoga.  Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that systematically leads you into a deep state of relaxation through breath awareness, body scanning and imagery. This state 'turns on' the relaxation response, which is the body's natural healing state.

Classes are held in the Fox Chase Cancer Center Auditorium on Mondays and Wednesdays 10am to 11:30am.  Cost is $10 for the class ($5 for employees who wish to join the last half hour of Yoga Nidra, gentle stretching and meditation).  Yoga mats, blocks, chairs are provided.  Space is limited.

No previous yoga experience is required to take our class, and scholarships are available.

Our instructor is Michelle Stortz, C-IAYT, RYT500, MFA.  Michelle is a certified yoga therapist specializing in yoga for cancer and chronic illness.

This effort is through Integrative Care Program, Division of Psychiatry.  For more information or to register, please call 215-214-3940.

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