Friday, January 30, 2009
A native Austinite, Jessica Sager brings to Yoga Bear her love and passion for empowering others and sharing the gift of yoga. A lifelong student, Jessica has studied as a Kundalini Yoga teacher with Yoga Yoga Teacher Training, as a massage therapist at the Lauterstein Conway School of Massage, and in holistic nutrition at the Australasian College of Health Sciences. Both her parents are cancer survivors, which is part of the reason Yoga Bear's mission is very close to her heart. She is very thankful to yoga for helping teach her to breathe and appreciate the breath, and hopes through YogaBear she can share yoga's gifts with others.
Lindsey O'Brien (Denver) is extremely excited to be a volunteer for Yoga Bear and help spread health and wellness through the practice of yoga. She recently graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Integrative Physiology and plans to attend osteopathic medical school in the fall of 2010. Lindsay strongly believes that wellness is established through proper alignment of the musculoskeletal system and that the body is a self-healing and self-regulating organism and healthy function can be maintained through the practice of yoga and meditation. Lindsay also works as a chiropractic assistant at Fox Chiropractic in Broomfield, Colorado and enjoys traveling, working out, singing, and spending time with her family.
Jen Bluestein (NYC) is excited to be connected with such a wonderful and inspirational organization. She was initially drawn to Yoga Bear for her love of yoga, fitness and health and, being the daughter of a cancer survivor, her commitment to improving the well being of those suffering from, or in remission of, cancer. Jen is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, located in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada.
Dasha Bril (NYC) discovered yoga after an impromptu class in New York City. Having always been drawn to literature and philosophy that explored the nature of interconnectedness, Dasha found yoga to be the perfect physical expression of these ideas. From the sense of balance, clarity, and openness the practice of yoga brought her, she knew immediately that she wanted yoga to be part of her life. Dasha brings to Yoga Bear a desire to help others discover the physical, mental, and spiritual healing properties of yoga.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
By Kristen Spinning, Founder of Cancer Journeys
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The study results, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, have renewed concern and calls for regulation.
“The study reinforces the urgent need for stricter government oversight and regulation of this extremely toxic chemical,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, one of our favorite health advocacy groups. “It adds to what we already know about BPA, a chemical so powerful that at extremely low levels — parts per billion or even parts per trillion — it can cross the placenta and alter the mammary gland of the developing fetus, increasing breast cancer risk later in life.”
Now here's the scary party: BPA (used to make baby bottles, dental sealants, food containers and thousands of other household products) was found in 93% of Americans tested.
The new study, conducted by Richard Stahlhut at the University of Rochester, used data on humans collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers looked at urine samples of 1,469 U.S. adults. They compared the levels of BPA based on how long the subjects had fasted.
BPA has been linked to spikes in breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease, even at very low levels. It has also been found to interfere with chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.
“It provides evidence that we are being exposed to more BPA than we think — and that contaminated food and beverages may not even be the main source “ of our BPA exposure, said Patricia Hunt, a professor at Washington State University who pioneered studies linking BPA to cancer. “Scary, huh?”
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
As part of the celebration, Lotus 7 pledged to match each membership package purchased that day with memberships for Yoga Bear participants. We would like to give a warm thank you to Lisa Brabender of Lotus 7 Yoga and Pilates for her kind generosity! We wish you much success and prosperity in 2009!
By: Nicole Reed, Director of SoCal Chapter, Yoga Bear
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Yoga Bear is working to bring yoga to cancer patients at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. Our program starts in TWO weeks, and we need your help to make it possible!
We're looking for donations of gently used yoga mats. If you have a yoga mat that you can donate, please contact Michelle.Robbins@yogabear.org. Your contribution to our mission is greatly appreciated.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Please join Bernal Yoga and instructor Traci Joy Burleigh for a special Valentine's Day afternoon of yoga, heart health and intimate connection, both with ourselves, our lives and others. Using specially sequenced asana, simple breathing techniques and meditations, we will explore healing the heart both on a physical and metaphysical level. All Levels Welcome.
Space is limited, please RSVP.
For those who are concerned with the qualifications of holistic practitioners, the UK is beginning a mandatory registry for companies offering those services.
It will not judge clinics on whether therapies are effective, but rather on whether they operate a professional and safe business. Maggie Dunn, co-chairman of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), said it was time customers were given proper assurances.
Will the US follow suit? Our government already regulates other industries-- spas, salons, nutritionists. But herbal medicine practitioners and yoga therapists are largely overlooked by the government. Naturopathy is licensed on a state-by-state basis, with some states having no licensing requirements at all.
Here are some other tips while searhcing for a natural practitioner:
1. Credentials. Ask them where their degree or certificate is from! No legitimate natural pratitioner (yoga instructor, naturopathic pratcitioner, etc.) will be offended by a potential client asking questions.
2. Insured. Malpractice insurance does more than protect you in the event that something goes wrong. If your practitioner doesn't have malpractice insurance it could mean that he or she doesn't qualify. Ask yourself, "Why?"
3. Openness to ideas. No legitimate practitioner will deny a client information about mainstream medicine. If your naturopath is locked in on the idea "natural" medicine only and can't acknowledge that technology-based medicine has a place in your health care, be wary.
And for finding holistic medicine information on the internet, the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego published these comprehensive guidelines.
Remember, "natural" doesn't mean "anti-science". Leaders in the field read and write peer-reviewed research papers just like their mainstream counterparts do. A legitimate therapist is, after all, a scientist, too.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The rise of health reform "is surprising and instructive" in nations like the UK and France, which made controversial changes after too many "stories about cruelty," Gawande writes. Now it's America's turn to stop fearing the “unintended consequences of drastic change." What's more, the US can build on any of its "hodgepodge" of institutions—like Medicare and veterans' health care—to build an American-style form of universal care.
Massachusetts' plan has worked well, despite some grousing taxpayers, since it kicked in 2 years ago, Gawande writes. He hasn’t seen a single patient delay cancer treatment due to cost: “That’s a remarkable change: a glimpse of American health care without the routine cruelty.”
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
In 2000, Michigan Resident Dr. Greg Ling -- a traditionally trained chiropractor practicing in Norton Shores -- was issued a death sentence by the medical world. He was diagnosed with terminal melanoma and told there was "no hope" of recovery and "no need" for treatment.
"Basically, I was told to go home and prepare," he said. "Go home, and prepare to die."
But Ling knew a few things about the healing power of alternative medicine and one's own heart. He immersed himself in the benefits of yoga, massage, Bowenwork and other "energy therapies" that he already had begun to incorporate into his own practice.
"I knew there were other means of healing," he said. Now 45, Ling is cancer-free. He has used his passion and belief in alternative medicine to open his open practice, called Healing Harmony.
Read the full story here.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Did you know?
-11% of US women report that they do not have their Pap test screeningsNow that a cervical cancer vaccine is available, 70% of cervical cancers can be prevented with widespread adoption of the vaccine program. In addition, the availability of improved Pap test screening plus a test for the virus that causes almost all cervical cancer—the Human papillomavirus, or HPV—means that no women need die from this preventable cancer.
-In the US, About 10,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and about 3,700 women die in the US each year from this disease
-Women in developing countries account for about 85 percent of both the yearly cases of cervical cancer (estimated at 473,000 cases worldwide) and the yearly deaths from cervical cancer (estimated at 253,500 deaths worldwide).
-In the majority of developing countries, cervical cancer remains the number-one cause of cancer-related deaths among women.
Early detection saves lives.Sign up for a yearly reminder at the Cervical Cancer Campaign website.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Adult tobacco user prevalence is now under 20 percent for the first time since tobacco use rates began to fall during the mid-1960s. The findings were based on data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
"These data tell us we have made exceptional progress in the effort to reduce and eventually eliminate the death, disease, and economic challenges that tobacco use brings on its users," said Thomas J. Glynn, PhD, American Cancer Society's director of cancer science and trends and international cancer control.
There are many possible reasons for the decline. In addition to the economic recession, tougher legislation and higher prices for cigarettes are more reason smoking has become less attractive.
However, it's not all good news. The report showed that significant disparities continue to persist by race and education level. American Indian and Alaska Natives continue to smoke in higher numbers, as do people with GEDs and those below the poverty level.
Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, and it's a major cause of heart disease, emphysema, and stroke. To learn more, visit the American Cancer Society website. Looking for help quitting right now? Contact the American Cancer Society (1-800-ACS-2345) for support.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
"The best thing about yoga — as opposed to the gym or weights — is that you have to use your own body, and it makes you really aware of all the connections and how to balance yourself," Sasha says.Balance is everything to a skater twirling on one leg on the razor-thin edge of a blade across a smooth ice rink.
"I do it at home, on tour buses, hotels, and even airplanes," she says. "One of the things I like about yoga is that all you need is a mat and some space on the floor."
Sasha practices at Yoga Bear partner studio, Yoga Works in Newport Beach, CA.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Seventy people gathered at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco for a wonderful day, featuring three great speakers.
Click here to view more photos!
Click here for links to the presentations.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
We are pleased and excited to announce the new Denver Chapter of Yoga Bear!
Pinna Gallant, yogi and philanthropist, will be running and growing the chapter. Pinna has been working hard since late 2008 to engage both the yoga and cancer communities. Our first partner-studio in the area is Harmony Yoga, which offers a variety of classes including gentle, restorative, and hatha.
Pinna has been practicing yoga for three years and states, "I am excited to share yoga with participants in the program, and help them find the wellness and healing that I have found through yoga."
For more information about the Denver Chapter, please contact Pinna@yogabear.org. Cancer survivors are encouraged to apply (for free) to join our program- http://www.yogabear.org/page/participation-form.
Friday, January 9, 2009
CT Challenge Survivorship Clinic
Yale New Haven Hospital
Choosing the Right Physical Activity...
- Something you will enjoy
- Something that will cause you to break a (mild) sweat
- Something (ideally) you can do with another person
- Something that will not injure you or exacerbate an old injury
- Beginning with what feels comfortable to you – especially if you have cancer-related fatigue
- Ideally, begin with 20-30 minutes a session 3 times a week
- Increase the number of sessions first, then increase length of each session, then intensity of each session
- Long term goal (2-3 months down the road) of at least 30 minutes a session 5 times a week
- Finding a time that you can set aside for exercise
- Morning vs. evening, when the kids are at school, etc.
- Writing down your plan/goals and keeping it in view
- Recording in a journal what you did, how long, and how you felt
- Exercising at home or at a facility
- Set realistic goals
- Setting physical activity goals such as “I want to be able to walk for an hour straight without stopping” benefits your whole body (mind included) and the other goals (such as weight loss) will take care of themselves
- Break your goal into smaller goals and reward yourself when you achieve one i.e., “I want to be able to walk 30 minutes without stopping by two weeks time, and 40 minutes in a month”
- Don’t get caught up in day-to-day fluctuations – it’s the long range, big picture that you’re focused on!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
CT Challenge Survivorship Clinic
Yale New Haven Hospital
After finishing your cancer treatments, you may feel…
- Sore or have post-surgical pain
- Increased sensitivity to an area that received radiation therapy
- Bloated from chemotherapy treatments
- Depressed, confused, and/or angry
- But do you feel like exercising?
- Physical activity decreases your risk of recurrence and increases survival.
- Women who reported 4 hr/week of brisk walking had a 40% lower risk of recurrence and breast cancer death.
- Women who are overweight at breast cancer diagnosis are at a 2-fold greater risk for recurrence and death compared with lighter women.
- Women who gain weight (~5 lbs) are at 60% increased risk of death compared with women who do not gain weight.
- Obesity and weight gain lead to an increased production of certain hormones and growth factors that increases cell proliferation.
- Exercising several times a week helps decrease body fat, and hormones associated with cancer prognosis.
- By decreasing these factors, a woman post-breast cancer can decrease her risk of a recurrence by as much as 91%.
- Cancer and its treatments often produce significant morbidities that undermine quality of life.
- Exercise enhances quality of life both during and after cancer treatments.
- Exercise decreases fatigue
- Exercise decreases nausea
- Exercise decreases depression and anxiety
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
An article published online in October in the journal PLoS Medicine argues that as part of the informed-consent process, doctors have an ethical obligation to tell patients if they are more likely to survive, be cured, live longer or avoid complications by going to another hospital, even if that means the patient will take their business elsewhere.
“It’s only fair,” said Dr. Leonidas G. Koniaris, an author of the article and a cancer surgeon at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami.
The New York Times writes, "Studies have confirmed the common-sense notion that practice makes perfect, and the medical profession has known for at least 30 years that how well people fare after surgery often depends on where it was performed. For a given operation, outcomes are generally best at “high volume” hospitals, which perform it often. The difference between high- and low-volume centers is not just the surgeon’s skill, but also the level of expertise in other areas that are crucial after surgery, like nursing, intensive care, respiratory therapy and rehabilitation, Dr. Koniaris said. The same principles apply to treating cancer."To learn how a specific hospital performs in treating certain illnesses and performing operations, the government Web site www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov provides information.
Monday, January 5, 2009
During the past seven years, cancer has touched my life personally: my middle sister, Linda, is a breast cancer survivor (2001), I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer April 2003, and my mother just died of acute lymphoma (2008) . So, I know cancer from being a first-hand relative, a close friend and a survivor myself.
I didn't know any other woman my age that had colon cancer (usually an 'old man's disease') and I needed support. I contacted the Colon Cancer Alliance and met my colon cancer Buddy, Suzanne Lindley. Suzanne had already outlived her stage IV diagnosis by four years when I first mether. My stage III diagnosis seemed less frightening when Suzanne told me that her original prognosis was six months! Suzanne continues to guide me in setting an example of advocacy, service to others and living life in the moment.But at that moment in time, what I needed most was another young woman that had colon cancer and had survived.
After surgery to remove a foot of bowel, the oncologist came in and told me that my cancer had spread to the one lymphnod they had removed and he could guarantee I had cancer cells floating around in my bloodstream. He told me that if my cancer came back, I would die. Good thing I was hooked up to morphine, I took the button, pressed it down and laid back in the bed. Immediately, I didn't like this doctor! My husband, Chris, a medical social worker, told me that I was lucky to have a doctor that was a straight-shooter. When your survival is at risk, you listen and follow directions, as a veteran teacher of 25 years, I was trained to give directions; this journey was not going to be easy. I felt better than I had in years after surgery and then thought of weekly chemotherapy for six months.
Three weeks to recover from surgery and weekly chemotherapy was arranged. I made myself a pocket chart out of two pieces of felt squares (teachers know these things!). I filled the twenty-six pockets with angel charms to take with me to t he cancer center every week and leave for others in the waiting room. I lined up twenty-six friends to take me to my appointments, some flew in from across the country, some came from across town; each friend was a light of safety in the scary world of cancer treatment. When I was half-way done, I threw a "Half-way" done party and thanked friends for being with me and my family. Treatment continues to wear you down and that's what happened to me. The cumulative effect of treatments made me physically weaker and I had little stamina.
At the end of treatment, I threw another party and had a healing ceremony in our backyard. My doctor, the one who had sternly spoken to me and smiled little, cried at the end of my treatment because he said he was so glad that I was "well".
One does not feel well after six months of treatment. I confessed to him that I hadn't always liked him because he scared me but that I could not have made it through without his strong-minded direction. I also confessed to leaving painted rock-angels around the cancer center every week, but swore him to secrecy. I still have fun leaving them on my check ups.
My cancer journey felt like this: one day I was a well person (to the world), the next day I was a very sick person. I was now home with a life that didn't look anything like the life I had six months prior. My fatique was so great, I could no longer work as teacher. I stopped most of my social events. And, exercise was getting out of bed, showering and getting dressed. I had no stamina, no strength and little idea of how to regain any of it. I was happy to have survived, but the emotional and physical toll of cancer had just begun to sink into my consciousness. First you just merely wish to survive, then you want to live.
A "New" Body
I tried returning to the gym but was humiliated by my weakness and confused about what to work on first. Should I build muscle strength back with weights? Should I try to stretch my tight muscles with yoga? Do I need some cardiovascular exercise to get my stamina back? Each attempt at a class made me feel more awkward in my "new" body; scarred, bloated, limp, and listless. I returned to the safety of my home and tried working out with a yoga tape. I lasted five minutes before I needed to rest on the floor. It was a confusing and painful time. So much had changed and I didn't know where to start to regain a 'new normal'. I prayed for guidance. I figured God had to have a plan for me because I was still on earth, still breathing and needed direction.
Finding a New Purpose in Life
I was inspired to help others along the journey to wellness. If it had been difficult for me, it had to be difficult for others. I continued my yoga tape and was able to work up to a half hour a day. But my body was not able to do traditional poses for very long, and I needed more breath work and more relaxation. A voice inside said that my new purpose in life was to become a yoga teacher for other cancer survivors. I asked the gym director if she would allow me to teach a class to cancer survivors if I got certified to teach yoga. She agreed. I continue to teach weekly and enjoy it as the highlight of my week! I am joining together a group of yoga teachers that are cancer survivors teaching other survivors; we're out there!
Bringing Yoga to Other Survivors
I noticed that some people in my class were too weak to come to class; even though I make it clear that if you come and meditate and fall asleep, we are happy to provide that hour space of safety! So, another idea was planted in my heart. Why not make an audio tape for cancer survivors, so that those whom cannot make it physically to class can join us in spirit? Yoga for Cancer Survivors took me two and half years to complete. During this time, I was caring
for my elderly mother, teaching yoga, taking classes, and trying to balance the demands of daily life. The music is original, the class is designed through my experience and the experience I have of other teaching other cancer survivors.
In January 2008, my mother died of leukemia. My goal to reach out to cancer survivors became even stronger. The Yoga for Cancer Survivor CD was ready to finish and press. In February, I picked up the 1,000 CD's and started finding ways to give them to survivors. My goal was to give 800 CD's away, which I was able to do, and sell only what I needed to sell to cover the cost of making the Yoga for Cancer Survivor's second pressing. In 2009, I am going to take another leap of faith and repress another 1,000 CD's. What will happen? I don't know. I only know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing! If I can make someone else's life a little better, use my experience to help, I am blessed!
Click here to purchase Jean's Yoga for Cancer Survivors CD.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
An article in the New York Times today discussed a trend among some yoga instructors who are "poking holes" in the austere image of yoga by "infusing levity into classes" through jokes, pop songs, and other uniquely Western asanas.
The article quoted Yoga Bear Advisor Kelly McGonigal, who is also the editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy: “I do think there’s a trend toward lightening up in the yoga community. Mostly around the rigidity and humorlessness of doing things ‘the one right way’ — always having to get better, feeling like every yoga practice has to be one big self-improvement project.”
They also quoted Yoga Bear volunteer Sadie Nardini, director of yoga at East West Yoga in Manhattan, “People are moving away from what I call the Madame Tussauds yogi, frozen in a super-serious face, and instead want to rediscover the joy of living, even on the mat."
You can read the full article here.