Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How to Beat Stress and Angst Through Meditation

There's nothing like economic calamity to focus the mind. But instead of obsessing over your job security or declining 401(k) balance, try diminishing your stress via a very old tool: meditation. Stretching back thousands of years to ancient spiritual traditions, meditation—while still not exactly mainstream—has been attracting a growing following of secular practitioners in recent years. Data released in December by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, show that 9.4 percent of adults surveyed in 2007 had tried meditation at least once during the previous year, a significant increase from 7.6 percent in 2002. And 1 percent of children had zoned in, too.

Once considered far outside the mainstream, alternative medicine is now being embraced by top hospitals. Learning the art of relaxation through meditation and other techniques can help you get through the holiday seasonand through other stressful times of the year.

Source: US News

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yoga Bear & Lotus7 in the OC Metro

The OC Metro published information about free classes held on Yoga Day, January 24th, 2009 at Lotus7 in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA.

You can attend free classes all day, and a portion of any yoga merchandise purchased during Yoga Day will be donated to Yoga Bear!

Visit Lotus 7’s Web site to see the event’s class schedule.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Importance of Early Detection

Wired Magazine published a long, but fascinating article this month about the importance of early detection of cancer. If we find cancer early, 90 percent survive. If we find cancer late, 10 percent survive. So why doesn't more energy and money go towards early detection and prevention?

The US spends billions of dollars to save these late-stage patients, trying to devise better drugs and chemotherapies that might kill a cancer at its strongest. This cure-driven approach has dominated the research since Richard Nixon declared war on the disease in 1971. But it has yielded meager results: The overall cancer mortality rate in the US has fallen by a scant 8 percent since 1975. (Heart disease deaths, by comparison, have dropped by nearly 60 percent in that period.) We are so consumed by the quest to save the 566,000 that we overlook the far more staggering statistic at the other side of the survival curve: More than a third of all Americans—some 120 million people—will be diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lives. Their illness may be invisible now, but it's out there. And that presents a great, and largely unexamined, opportunity: Find and treat their cancers early and that 566,000 figure will shrink.
- Wired Magazine

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

We made you a video! Eight yoga-inspired reindeer poses, to get you through the holiday. Enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

As World Population Rises, Cancer Rates Almost Double

According to a new report published by the World Health Organization, there will be 20 million new cases of cancer by the year 2030 (there are about 12 million a year today). As survival rates improve in the US, more than half of these new cases, and most of deaths, occur in poor and developing nations. “China and India are going to dominate with 25 percent of the world’s population,” said Dr. Peter Boyle, a co-editor of the report and the director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. “What happens there is going to drive the numbers.”

Friday, December 19, 2008

Partner Studio Spotlight: Yoga at Change

While most studios are for-profit entities, Yoga at Change is a not-for-profit organization. Like Yoga Bear, this means that they are tax-exempt, and revenue earned goes back into programs. Founded nine years ago by a handful of yoga teachers, Yoga at Change offers a variety of classes to students in San Mateo.

In efforts to make yoga and meditation accessible to everyone, the studio offers free daily meditation classes and free weekly workshops on health, healing, and movement. Regular classes-- including gentle, vigorous, and restorative yoga-- are $16 for drop in, or as low as $7 for students on scholarships. Classes are small (16 students max), so instruction is catered to the level of students.

Yoga at Change is community focused. In addition to being a partner studio of Yoga Bear, they have partnered with the Art of Yoga organization, which teachers yoga to incarcerated youth. Executive Director Shikha Prasad was drawn to this supportive community. "We offer yoga to everybody, not just those who can afford it. I felt like the studio was a modest, communal, comfortable space with students from all walks of life."

The current economy presents problems for both yoga studios and yoga students. To make sure more people are still able to practice, Yoga at Change is trying to build more awareness of the free classes they offer. "People need yoga now more than ever," says Shikha, "We want them to know they should and can still practice. We will continue to offer free classes and plan on expanding programs to include more music and philsophy classes as well. No matter what happens, we're looking to bounce with change."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Voices of Survivors

"Voices of Survivors" was started by Lynn Lane, a documentary filmmaker who was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent a Robotic Radical Prostatectomy. From the moment of his diagnosis, he realized that life would never be the same. He scoured the internet in search of information and support but found very little out there that connected him with human experience of cancer and even less about what it means to the individual to be a 'survivor'.

After his surgery he turned his efforts towards his project,"Voices of Survivors," as he saw a real need to put a human face and voice to this word that means so much to so many people. Utilizing his background as a documentary filmmaker, he saw this as a new challenge for his work as well as himself. The word "Survivor" often has very different meanings for each individual and sometimes can be challenging for them to see themselves as one. This project and format seemed to lend itself to a new form of support for each individual who is going through this battle as well as for their friends and family. It gives us an opportunity see ourselves as a "Survivor" in our terms and by our own definition of the word.

The ongoing, online documentary portion of the project is just the beginning of what "Voices of Survivors" is to become. In 2009, Lynn will seek to establish it as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to fully realize his vision of "Voices of Survivors."

To learn more, visit the Website, Facebook Page, or email

Lynn will be in San Francisco Dec 24th, 2008 - January 3rd, 2009.

Yoga Bear's Person of the Month: Tony Eason

Tony and the students of the (free!) class he teaches at Sports Basement threw a fundraiser event for Yoga Bear on Sunday, raising over $300 for our non-profit through donations and a raffle. We are so grateful to Tony for organizing this incredible event!

Tony, an instructor, has been a student of Yoga for fifteen years. As an endurance cyclist, Tony came to yoga for the benefits of stretching. He is a graduate of the Two-year Advanced Teacher Training Program of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco. Through Hatha yoga classes, he teaches students to pay attention to the alignment of their bodies, to become aware of the breath, and to control the mind.

The event on Sunday was a success, and we truly appreciate the community support. Thank you Tony and friends!!

To learn more about Tony, visit his website

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Minorities and Low-Income Disadvantaged in Cancer War

Research shows that the death-rates of minority cancer victims are higher than whites. According to HealthDay, black men and women are 45% more likely to die from the disease than whites. In addition, low-income cancer victims are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage, thus leading to higher death rates.

So why does this unjust disparity exist? Minorities and those living in poverty have less access to information about cancer, screening, and quality/affordable care. Effects of this problem were reported in a study released today, which claims that low-income men were not receiving prostate cancer screening services that have been shown to reduce the diagnosis of late-stage cancers in the general population. (Study to be published in The Journal of Urology in February '09).

In an accompanying editorial, M. Norman Oliver of the University of Virginia School of Medicine comments that men from minority groups who live in poverty and are diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to die of their disease than those men with a higher socioeconomic status.

African-Americans have a disproportionately high rate of poverty with some 25% living below the federal poverty level compared to 8% of the white population in that category. This racial disparity in combination with the socioeconomic disparity already discussed places African- American men diagnosed with prostate cancer at an even greater risk of presenting with incurable disease.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Check us out in Austin All Natural Magazine this month!

Music As Medicine

[From the American Cancer Society Library]

Music has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that music could heal both the body and the soul. Native Americans have used singing and chanting as part of their healing rituals for millennia.. The more formal approach to music therapy began in World War II when US Veterans Administration hospitals began to use music to help treat soldiers suffering from shell shock.

Music therapy is often used in cancer treatment to help reduce pain, anxiety, and nausea caused by chemotherapy. Some people believe music therapy may enhance the health care of pediatric oncology patients by promoting social interaction and cooperation.

There is evidence that music therapy can reduce high blood pressure, rapid heart beat, depression, and sleeplessness. There are no claims music therapy can cure cancer or other diseases, but medical experts do believe it can reduce some symptoms, aid healing, improve physical movement, and enrich a patient's quality of life.

Cancer patient Gisele Bigras, who is being treated at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and participates in their Music Therapy program says, "Music has always played a huge part in my life. Music therapy helped me focus on something else other than the traumatic events of the cancer diagnosis, and just forget for an hour or so, to just go into a different world for a little bit."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yoga Bear Testimonial

This is Natalie Conforti, three-time cancer survivor and Yoga Bear participant. Thanks Natalie, we love you!!

Study Suggests Group Therapy Increases Breast Cancer Survival Rate

According to Reuters, Group therapy has been linked to improved survival rates among female participants with breast cancer, a new study has found. Findings appear to support the decades-old, controversial claim that psychological therapy can help cancer patients not only feel better emotionally, but survive longer and fight off recurrences of the disease, Reuters reports.

The study tracked 227 women with breast cancer, half of whom took part in a year of therapy. Eleven years later, the therapy recipients were 56% less likely than the non-recipients to have died of their cancer and 45% less likely to have experienced a recurrence. Researchers say therapy might help boost the immune system by reducing stress.

"Survival is kind of the bottom line when it comes to cancer. So we have people being healthy, productive people for longer—and that's a huge health outcome."
- Barbara Andersen, who helped lead therapy groups

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Children and Alternative Medicine

The NY Times today shared a studio about children and their use of alternative medicine. Not surprisingly, the single most influential factor driving children’s adoption of alternative therapies appears to be whether their parents also use them.

Free Yoga for Survivors in Johnson City, NY

United Health Services is now offering yoga classes for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Yoga for breast cancer patients will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on Mondays starting Jan. 12 at Wilson Regional Medical Center’s Conference Room 5A in the Picciano Building. Family members or friends can attend yoga classes from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursdays starting Jan. 8.

Classes — taught by Kris Marks, a certified yoga instructor and cancer care social worker — are free, but registration is required. To sign up, call (607) 763-5092. For more information, call Marks at (607) 763-5266.

Fish Oil Tops the Charts

Ten Most Common Natural Products
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Center for Health Statistics released findings on the use of complementary and alternative medicine by people in the US. The findings came from a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, with information gathered from more than 23,000 adults aged 18 and older and over 9000 children age 17 and younger. In the survey, people were asked about natural health products they've used in the past 30 days.

Monday, December 8, 2008

RSVP for the Yoga + Cancer Workshop

We're already a third booked for this exciting workshop at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Join us for a cross-disciplinary workshop to bring together health professionals and yoga instructors to exchange information about cancer treatment and learn new ways to help support survivors through alternative treatments.

Yogis, nurses, doctors, social workers, survivors, program managers, academics, and natural-health enthusiasts welcome!

A Definition for Integrative Medicine

Holistic Medicine is the same thing as Integrative Medicine, or Complementary + Alternative Medicine (CAM). Since it's a rather new conversation in western medicine, it doesn't seem like the medical community has chosen the standard term (personally, I like the term integrative medicine). However, a task force led by Kathi J. Kemper, MD, MPH has crafted a pretty good definition.

According to the Task Force on Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

Holistic medicine refers to patient-centered care that includes consideration of biological, psychological, spiritual, social, and environmental aspects of health. Integrative medicine is relationship-based care that combines mainstream and complementary therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness to promote health for the whole person in the context of his or her family and community. Integrative medicine also reaffirms the importance of the relationship between the practitioner and the patient, emphasizes wellness and the inherent drive toward healing, and focuses on the whole person, using all appropriate therapies to achieve the patient's goals for health and healing."

The Kemper model of holistic care recognizes 4 main components of therapy. Biochemical components include medications, dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies. Lifestyle and nutritional interventions include recommendations for exercise and/or rest; environmental therapies including heat, ice, music, vibration, and light; and mind-body treatments such as behavior management, meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, and counseling.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Yoga Bear Testimonial

Thanks Alexandra!

Alexandra Fraser will also be sharing her experiences with yoga on our survivor panel at the Yoga for Cancer Workshop in January.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Research on Yoga as Treatments

More than 1,000 studies have been conducted to determine whether yoga helps people suffering diseases. Here's a sample from the medical literature:

Cancer: Cancer patients reported an improvement in overall well-being after practicing yoga, researchers in Canada found. In addition, a group of postmenopausal women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer reported to Duke University scientists that they had fewer hot flashes, slept better and felt less tired.

Depression: Patients diagnosed with depression showed significant reductions in anger, anxiety and neurotic symptoms after completing yoga classes, according to researchers in California, Russia and Italy.

Diabetes: People with metabolic syndrome, often a precursor to diabetes, took 90-minute yoga classes over 10 weeks and reported having higher energy, lower blood pressure and improved well-being compared to others who did not take the classes, California researchers reported.

Sources: PubMed; Duke University

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Welcome New Partner Studios!

We're excited to announce new studios to the Yoga Bear community!

A HUGE thank-you to our incredible chapter directors for making this possible: Kelly Hollis (Austin); Tracy Klein (DC), Justin Liu (NYC), Nicole Reed (LA), and Michelle Robins (NYC). Also a huge thank-you to the San Francisco-based interns Claire Appel and Challen Presley.

The following studios have made a donation of yoga classes to Yoga Bear participants:
Altered Body Mind Yoga (Greenwood, Indiana)
Ananda Yoga & Meditation Studio (Dallas, TX)
Balance Pilates & Yoga Studio (Bethesda, MD)
Breath & Body Yoga (Austin)

Body and Balance Center (Alexandria, VA)
Fit From the Core (Mountain View, CA)
Gilbert Pilates and Yoga (Gilbert, AZ)

Harmony Yoga & Pilates (Berkeley, CA)
Kim Devery / Three Yoga (Phoenix, AZ)

Niyama Yoga (Dallas, TX)
Radiance Yoga (Alexandria, VA)
Redlands Yoga Room (Redlands, CA)
RYAH Yoga & Health (Philadelphia Suburbs)
Sanctuary Yoga (Gainesville, FL)
Santa Monica Power Yoga (Santa Monica, CA)
Shanti Yoga Ashram (Bethesda MD)
Yoga High (NYC)
Yoga World Studio (Long Beach, CA)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Time to Talk (About Alternative Medicine)

According to a national consumer survey conducted by NCCAM and AARP, almost two-thirds of people age 50 or older are using some form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), yet less than one-third of these CAM users talk about it with their doctors.

"In an era of genomics and personalized medicine, we need to remember that a key ingredient to good health care is the dialogue you, as a patient, have with your providers," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH Director. "And talking about what CAM therapies you use is an important part of that discussion. This is important for people of all ages."

This is why the NIH launched the Time to Talk campaign, aimed at addressing the need for patient-physician dialogue to help ensure safe, coordinated care among all conventional and CAM therapies. Talking not only allows integrated care, it also minimizes risks of interactions with a patient's conventional treatments. When patients tell their providers about their CAM use, they can more effectively manage their health. When providers ask their patients about CAM use, they can ensure that they are fully informed and can help patients make wise health care decisions.

For more information on Time to Talk, to order or download materials, or to read the full NCCAM/AARP report on CAM use communication, please visit