Shoes stacked neatly off to the side of the mats tell you: yoga is done here. Before the lights dim, signaling the beginning of class, six women converse about their lives, their cancer diagnosis and treatments. The five class regulars encourage this week’s newcomer not to worry about her fitness abilities.
There’s no yoga fashionistas here either. For all, comfortable sweat pants and loose shirts do the job.
Every Thursday at 2 p.m., the Joan Katz Breast Center at Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth offers a free chair yoga class to cancer patients and their families. The goal is to promote relaxation while increasing flexibility and circulation.
Class participant Cindy, a woman with dual health concerns of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, finds the class fits her needs. “Every week I’m in town, I come,” she says. “I feel like it’s a place to start. They never make you feel bad if you can’t do something.”
The instructor, one of three who alternate teaching the chair yoga class, offers modifications to the poses as she walks amid the ladies.
When I attended, class began with seated chair poses, and then moved smoothly to the floor mats for puppy pose, butterfly and supported bridge pose among others.
“Let the poses do you,” the instructor says. “No forcing—just breathing and accepting.”
“Even if I just lay there,” Cindy tells the instructor. “I can relax and breathe.” Because of the weakness in her wrists, Cindy modifies the poses if one requires too much weight on her wrists and hands.
An hour later, the ladies quietly roll up their mats, slip on their shoes and leave, ready to face the world, hopefully renewed.
In fact, the benefits of yoga in cancer patients are so promising that the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was recently awarded a $4.5 million grant to study integrating yoga into the treatment of women with breast cancer.
To learn more about the weekly free chair yoga class, call: 817-922-2223. This mind-body connection is one being studied at many medical centers.