Thursday, August 28, 2008
August has been a wonderfully generous month from Yoga Studios. A warm welcome to our new partner studios:
Balance Pilates & Yoga in Maryland
Leviate Yoga in NYC
Namaste Yoga in Rockridge, CA
Shanti Yoga Ashram in Washington D.C.
Yoga Studio with 3 studios in the San Francisco Bay Area
Yoga Bear is now a network of over 60 studios across the U.S. who are committed to our mission of providing cancer survivors with access to the healing powers yoga.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
YB: The proceeds of Yoga Month will be benefiting the Yoga Health Alliance, a non-profit. Why should people support this organization?
Sadie: Because the overall picture of where kids' health is going in the US is pretty dismal. The incidence of childhood obesity, ADD, early-onset puberty, teen pregnancy, and drug use is higher than ever. Ever. That's worrisome. As the saying goes, "If not you, then who? If not now...then when?" Someone has to show these kids another way of living, and perhaps they'll become addicted instead to the sense of strength that a healthy body, high self-esteem, self awareness and acting with integrity bring.
I've taught many kids of all ages, and I've seen firsthand the joy they get when they do their first Crow Pose, or come to yoga class instead of taking out their anger some destructive way. Yoga is a gift, and the Yoga Health Alliance aims to give it to every child possible. I think that's a pretty good cause to get behind. Because those kids could be our kids, and they will grow up to be the next generation. If we can't invest in that now...then when?
I encourage all that can attend to be involved with this great initiative. For more information or to sign up, click here.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Rosa, a grandmother of 4, arrived bald. She had decided that yoga worked best that way the day we hung forward in "Ragdoll" and her wig fell on the floor. When she stood up, clutching her hair-do close to her mastectomy scar, several of us commented on how good she looked.You get a sense for the immense value of her work as she describes the confidence and joy her students uphold while being placed in an awkward situation of a rude journalist. Read the full story here.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics answers these questions and more on its user friendly website.
You can view a list of frequently asked questions and responses about cosmetics by visiting this site.
The classes were a mix of survivors, caregivers and supporters. We stretched and moved our bodies in ways we never imagined! Yogic Motion offers hot yoga classes six days a week in their beautiful Pacific Heights studio. Their theme is physical culture and the belief that before the mind and spirit can be reached, the body must be fixed. Although there was no focus on the spiritual aspect, everyone left the class with a refreshed sense of self and confidence. Brian is an incredible instructor who brings compassion and motivation to his class.
Thank you Brian & Yogic Motion!
Friday, August 22, 2008
"Children need to discover the world on their own. Telling them to think harder, do it better, or be a certain way because it's good for them is not the optimal way. Instead, provide a loving, responsive, creative environment for them to uncover their own truths. As they perform the various animal and nature asanas, engage their minds to deepen their awareness. When they're snakes (Bhujangasana), invite them to really imagine that they're just a long spine with no arms and legs. Could you still run or climb a tree? In Tree Pose (Vrksasana), ask them to imagine being a giant oak, with roots growing out of the bottoms of their feet. Could you stay in the same position for 100 years? If you were to be chopped down, would that be OK? Would it hurt? "
Anything that gets our kids moving and exercising is wonderful and “yoga may help counter stress created from living in a hurry-up world.” I encourage you to try it with the children in your life. For more information on children's yoga click here.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Studies like this are always coming out, then being retracted, then being confirmed again (remember all the shenanigans about popcorn or splenda?). We're hoping this one is simply proven wrong.
Fruit juices including grapefruit, orange and apple can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of heart and cancer drugs, it was claimed. Potentially the medicines could be rendered useless if they are taken at the same time as drinking juice, Canadian researchers said.
The evidence emerged from a study in which grapefruit juice was found to shut certain drugs out of the body.
Other fruit juices, notably orange and apple, are thought to have the same effect.
Patients consuming fruit or juice to be healthy run the risk of wiping out the benefits of their medicines - among them vital treatments for heart disease, cancer, organ transplant rejection and infection, the scientists warned.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
"Previous studies have shown that the ruby-seeded fruit native to the Middle East is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, researchers say pomegranate juice has higher levels of antioxidants than red wine and green
tea, which have also been investigated as potential cancer treatments."
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
From a Reuter's news story:
Some cancer patients may find that putting their emotions down in writing helps improve their pain and general well-being, a study suggests.
We think blogging is pretty cool, too. If you're a cancer patient or survivor interested in starting a blog to share your story (publicly or privately) but don't know where to start, let us know and we'll help you get going!
Friday, August 15, 2008
Celebrities and even politicians have joined in on this new workout craze. It is important to remember that despite your physical fitness level, precautions should be made to avoid injury. For more information you can read this fascinating article about Choudhury here.
Bikram claims that hot room temperature makes stretching the muscles and tendons into new positions possible. “The heat may make the body more limber, but it does nothing to stop a first-time Bikram student's potential pain. In fact, one doctor who spoke to 60 Minutes Wednesday said that people taking Bikram yoga classes should be warned, given instructions on hydration and on modifying poses to avoid pushing the body too hard.
Choudhury mocks the suggestion. ‘Tell the doctor [that] I say to start chicken farm." He adds, "What do you think I'm doing all this life? All these years?’
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Gyms and fitness centers have begun stepping in to meet a small but growing demand for programs designed to not only hasten recovery but to address the fatigue of chemotherapy, the swelling of lymphedema and the loss of muscle tone...
...Other studies indicate that moderate exercise has additional benefits like strengthened immune function and lower rates of recurrence. Studies at Dana-Farber found that nonmetastatic colon cancer patients who routinely exercised had a 50 percent lower mortality rate during the study period than their inactive peers, regardless of how active they were before the diagnoses.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Therefore, regardless of family history, it is important for all women to stay up to date with clinical breast exams and mammograms. Your doctor can advise you on when, and how often, to schedule these exams.
For more information on the risk factors of breast cancer, see:
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
As survival rates increase, we need more programs to focus on survivorship and quality of life. Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your story with the world!
The last time I visited my oncologist after my treatments were over, I felt lost. The image that kept recurring in my mind was that someone with a gigantic pair of tweezers had picked me up, shaken me and tossed me back down. Now what?
“I feel as if I want to ask you,” I told my oncologist, “how to live.”
She told me I could live as I had before — working, taking care of kids, exercising, traveling, enjoying life. Anything, really. I could lead a normal life.
As I left her office, I realized how completely I’d lost myself over the past several months. I needed to be reminded who I was.
What does this mean? Researchers are saying African American men and men with high-risk of getting prostate cancer are not being screened for early detection. This is alarming.
“This research suggests we can do a better job of screening men at age 40, and a better job in high-risk men. There's a huge population of African American men who are not getting screened, and men with a family history of prostate cancer who are under 50 are also not getting screened.”The study states there are many factors contributing to the reason why this at-risk group is not being screened such as: availability of health insurance, high household income, and education level.
You can read the article accompanied with this study here.
Google's latest product, Google Insights for Search, allows you to compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames. Naturally, I was eager to find out where people are searching the keywords "yoga" and "cancer", and "yoga and cancer".
Searches for "cancer", unsurprisingly, are pretty evenly distributed across the US. Searches for "yoga" are most popular in California and New York. However, searches for "yoga and cancer" seem to only center from California.
Searches for "Cancer":
Searches for "yoga":
Searches for "Yoga and Cancer":
I hope this graph colors more 'blue' over time, as yoga and other complementary treatments become more accessible to those who are looking for natural methods of healing. As early pioneers in this space, we are quite happy to help people access more information. And for those who haven't found us yet, keep searching!
- The human nose can remember 50,000 different smells.
- Your jawbone is the hardest bone in your body.
- It takes approximately 200,000 frowns to create one permanent brow line.
- More than half the bones in your body are located in your hands and feet.
- There is enough iron in the human body to make one small nail.
- A sneeze can exceed the speed of 100 mph.
- An average human drinks about 16,000 gallons of water in a lifetime. From innerbody.com, biology.about.com and teach-nology.com
Monday, August 11, 2008
Eight of 10 respondents agreed that the health system needs either fundamental change or complete rebuilding. Adults' health care experiences underscore the need to organize care systems to ensure timely access, better coordination, and better flow of information among doctors and patients. There is also a need to simplify health insurance administration.The good news is that if most of these people use their vote to voice these concerns, the '08 presidential candidates will have no choice but to address reform to our failing health system.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Theater is a lens through which to see and empathize the world. And in this case, theater offered both emotional recovery to the unexperienced actors and exposure of issues to the unsuspecting audience. The audience was deeply moved by the personal stories regaled by nine survivors in the confines of the intimate theater. At the same time, the survivors had the opportunity to heal through self-expression, community, and discipline.
For 75 minutes the actors revealed their deepest stories (in English, Mandarin, and Spanish), followed by honest convictions of joy and opportunity expressed through dancing, singing, and clowning. I laughed. I smiled. I cried. And by the end, I felt so close to these people who 75 minutes earlier were unfamiliar faces.
I can imagine the benefits to a participant in this program: the opportunity to explore and articulate often hidden stories; to meet and work with others who have similar experiences; to engage the brain and body; to express through imagination and voice; and to have a platform through which to tell your story.
Drama therapy is defined by the National Association for Drama Therapy as "the systematic and intentional use of drama/theater processes and products to achieve the therapeutic goals of symptom relief, emotional and physical integration and personal growth." It is a form of complementary therapy that has been around for years, but of course struggles with underfunding.
I want to thank the cast of the performance, along with those who make such programming possible. I was moved by the spirit and bravery expressed on that stage last night, and hope I can bring a little of that sanguinity to my life.
Friday, August 8, 2008
“Capitalism harnesses self-interest in a helpful and sustainable way but only on behalf of those who can pay. Government aid and philanthropy channel our caring for those who can't pay. And the world will make lasting progress on the big inequities that remain — problems like AIDS, poverty and education, — only if governments and nonprofits do their part by giving more aid and more effective aid. But the improvements will happen faster and last longer if we can channel market forces, including innovation that's tailored to the needs of the poorest, to complement what governments and nonprofits do. We need a system that draws in innovators and businesses in a far better way than we do today.”
Gates goes on to explain that creative capitalism is already occurring. Tom’s Shoes donates a pair of shoes to a needy child in Africa for every pair of shoes purchased. Safaricom has created a way for Kenyans to be able to afford to buy a cell phone. Simon Berry created a Facebook group to encourage Coca-Cola to use its distribution route in Africa to bring live-saving drugs to the ill. The possibilities for companies to be involved in a good cause are limitless.
Buyer beware though. Campaigns such as the Breast Cancer Pink Campaign can grow an ugly hair with businesses only contributing pennies on the dollar, while the consumer believes they made a considerable investment to a cause.
“If more companies follow the lead of the most creative organizations in their industry, they will make a huge impact on some of the world's worst problems.”
Overall, the Gates are on to something. We shouldn’t rely on the government alone to help alternative cancer treatments become a reality. Yoga Bear’s dedication to assure that treatments such as yoga and mediation are available to everyone despite their economic class is relentless. Yoga studios, yoga gear companies, and yoga mat manufacturers have an opportunity to step up and contribute to a cause bigger than the bottom line. A cause that would see to it that anyone diagnosed with cancer, despite their financial, racial, and gender background, should have as many treatment options available to them as possible. For a list of yoga studios already helping us make a difference, click here.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Among other things, the study revealed that CM use was higher among those who are female, younger age, white, higher income, and higher educational achievement. This is probably a result of inequality in access to information about CM and the ability to afford such “luxury” services.
However, we don’t believe that non-traditional methods of healing, such as yoga, vitamins, and art therapy, should be a luxury good. One of YOGABEAR's goals is to inform more people of their options, and provide these opportunities to the best of our ability. And with the support of over 50 incredible yoga studios across the nation, we’re making this a reality.
"Learning more about which CMs help cancer survivors with pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, overall psychological adjustment, and overall physical functioning is very feasible," Dr. Gansler noted. "That information could increase attention and resources for providing CMs that are helpful and reducing the time and money spent on ones that are not."
Pay close attention to minute 1:42 for Halle's two-cents, "I don’t think the full responsibility (of making cancer a national priority) should be on the government. I think it’s important that we have policies that are set forth to protect citizens.... But I also think it’s important for organizations and people to feel empowered to make change themselves."
In other words, if we wait around for the government to find the solution, nothing will ever happen. We need grassroots activists (like all the awesome Yoga Bears!) to bring forth change.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
ASANA (AH-sah-nah)It literally means “[easy] seat,” but it’s any yoga posture. A series of asanas makes up a vinyasa, or flow.
CHAKRAS (SHA-kruhz)The Sanskrit term chakra literally means “wheel” or “disc,” referring to the shape of these whirling energy centers that control the body’s vital organs. They correspond to nerve plexes, ganglia, and glands. When one’s organs are malfunctioning, it is because they lack sufficient life energy (hence, “My chakras are out of balance”). The seven principal chakras are situated along the spinal cord, from the base to the cranium and relate to reason, cognition, memory, will power, divine love, divine sight, and illumination. Seven others exist below the spine and relate to fear, anger, envy, selfishness, and other unenlightened traits. Those who can see chakras describe them as colorful and resembling a lotus flower.
KUNDALINI (kun-duh-LEE-ni)Literally, “coiled up.” Kundalini energy is the life force that lies dormant in our bodies. It is often depicted as a coiled up serpent at the base of the spine; practicing the correct spiritual discipline can cause the serpent to spring awake. Kundalini yoga focuses on the centers in the body (chakras) that can release kundalini energy.
NAMASTE (NAH-MAH-STAY)Means “May the divine light in me greet the divine light in you.” You know it’s coming at the end of class when your teacher puts her hands in prayer position and bows her head. Students say it back to convey, “Thank you for class.”
OM (OH-MMMM)A long and loud sigh or hum chanted at the beginning and end of a yoga session. This is supposed to warm up the lungs and relax and quiet the mind. The om sound is supposed to be “the sound of all things,” all the noise and music in the universe combined.
PRANA (PRAH-nah)The life energy that keeps us alive and thriving. The ancient Greeks called it “pneuma,” and the ancient Hebrews, “ruah.” The three major sources of prana are air, sun, and ground. SAVASANA (SHA-vass-ah-nah)Translating as “corpse pose,” this is when you lie on your back, completely still with eyes closed, and concentrate on relaxing every part of your body—from toes to jaw muscles. Wrapping yourself in a blanket is optional. Usually the last asana in class
SHAKTI (SHOCK-tee)In Sanskrit, means “power” or “energy.” Typically refers to the power of the god Siva, which pervades all of existence; the pure consciousness of all form. Manifestations include kriya shakti (action) and icha shakti (desire, love).
SURYA NAMASKAR (SUE-ree-ah NAH-mas-car)Also known as Sun Salutation. A series of poses that warms up the body including Downward Dog, Cobra, and Standing Forward Bend.
TADASANA (TAH-dah-sah-nah) Meet Mountain Pose. Just stand upright with your feet together, arms at your side, and head erect. This pose looks like the old-school diving board move known as “pencil.”
VIRABHADRASANA (vi-ra-BAH-dras-ah-nah)A standing pose with one bent knee that makes your thighs burn. There are also variations such as Warrior II, with the arms extended to the sides instead of overhead. Warrior III is a one-legged balancing act (the Sanskrit term for “face plant’’ is unknown).
We found this online questionnaire, created by the Siteman Cancer Center, that calculates your risk of being diagnosed with cancer. Of course it’s impossible calculate an exact risk, but this tool surveys critical factors known to increase one’s risk. The most valuable part of this tool is highlighting personalized steps you can take to lower your risk.
Here is a screen shot of my likelihood of getting colon cancer; a disease that my uncle is currently receiving chemotherapy for:Of course, be critical with their suggestions. For instance, my results suggest that I should take birth control to lower my risk. However, birth control also increases my risk of stroke, which my sister suffered from. Keep a holistic mindset and only adopt lifestyle changes that you (and perhaps your physician) are comfortable with.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Ame Van Iden, who represents the 36-year-old actress, released a statement saying: "Christina Applegate was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer.
"Benefiting from early detection through a doctor ordered MRI, the cancer is not life threatening. Christina is following the recommended treatment of her doctors and will have a full recovery."
Applegate is among the celebrities scheduled to appear on the Stand Up To Cancer one-hour television special to be aired on ABC, CBS and NBC on September 5 to raise funds for cancer research.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University are seeking volunteers with a current or past diagnosis of cancer who have some anxiety or are feeling down about their cancer to participate in a scientific study of self-exploration and personal meaning brought about by the entheogen psilocybin, a psychoactive substance found in mushrooms used as a sacrament in some cultures, given in a comfortable, supportive setting. Questionnaires and interviews will be used to assess the effects of the substance on consciousness, mood, and behavior.The new study is unique because because it will include both patients with a past or present diagnosis of cancer. This clinical trial is very important because it follows up on recently published research that demonstrated long-term well being after taking psilocybin in a structured setting. According to Roland Griffiths Ph.D.; “the primary mystical experience might fundamentally change the perception of disease and perhaps quality of life in people distressed by life-threatening diagnoses of cancer.”
However, obtaining volunteers for the new study has proven difficult so many are looking to spread the word about this promising study that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for those with cancer and possibly other diseases. You can find out further information and how to volunteer here.