DivaCare talks to Stephanie Gould from Beyond Yoga in Rye, NY, about her experience as a yoga teacher and cancer survivor. Here is the link to their website: https://www.beyondyoga.org/

How did you become interested in yoga for cancer?

I am a cancer survivor and a yoga teacher. I attended yoga throughout my treatment and recovery from breast cancer and I found that the meditation and breathing practices provided me with tools I could use on and off the mat.  I found that most teachers were unaware of how to modify the physical practice post surgery and reconstruction. I attended Y4C training in 2011 with Tari Prinster.  yoga4cancer (y4c.com) is a specialized yoga methodology that is tailored to address the specific physical and emotional needs left by cancer and its treatments. This unique approach is not just gentle or restorative yoga but focuses on how to stimulate the immune system through movement, improve flexibility and strength while reducing anxiety and boosting overall well-being. Y4C classes also provide a supportive community of other individuals in treatment or post-treatment who are coping with similar issues.  The students become a support for one another. In the case of our Y4C classes, Janet Muller and I are both also cancer survivors.

How long have you been a yoga teacher? What is your background?

I received my 200-hour yoga teacher certification at Kripalu, nine years ago. Subsequently, I  became an IAYT yoga therapist and have completed training in yoga nidra, restorative yoga, yoga therapy, Y4C and yoga for children. I hold a Masters degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University and worked as a school psychologist for twenty-three years.

As a yoga therapist, I  work with groups as well as individual people in recovery from cancer. Some women are not comfortable practicing in a group at first and prefer the intimacy of one to one while they regain confidence in their bodies again. Yoga therapy addresses the physical as well psychological and emotional issues that can accompany the diagnosis of cancer. My website is soundbodyoga.com.

What yoga poses are good for lymphatic flow?

Many postures are beneficial for lymphatic flow, specifically, arm movements ( vinyasa), twist, cat-cow, thread the needle, side bending postures, legs up the wall, etc. Of course, always ask your doctor before engaging in any kind of exercise or yoga.  All postures can be modified.

Which poses should one avoid?

Downward facing dog and warrior three should be done at the wall. Child’s pose can be modified. Inversions can also be modified.

Are there resources to find yoga for breast cancer in my area?

  • SOUL RYEDERS® is a volunteer-driven charitable organization, based in Westchester County, NY, committed to empowering those in our community who are affected by all types of cancer.  From diagnosis through treatment, recovery, and survivorship, they offer practical resources and nurturing support services that provide dignity, confidence, hope, and compassion. They provide a range of programs.
  • The Y4C website, Y4C.com, includes a directory of trained teachers all over the country and world.
  • Gilda’s club in White Plains offers a variety of programs as well.

What time do you offer classes?

Soul Ryders underwrites our  Y4C classes so that class is offered to the students free of charge   (a donation of $10.00 is suggested ). We teach the classes at Beyond Yoga, 22 Purchase Street, Suite 4, Rye, New York. The classes are held on Wednesdays from 6:00-7:15 and Saturdays from 11-12:15.  

What do you think is a common misconception about yoga after and during cancer treatments?

Not all yoga is the same, and there are many ways yoga can be modified. It is important that the teacher is aware of the individual student’s needs. Some people with cancer have bone density issues resulting from their treatment, others struggle with lymphedema; a trained teacher knows how to help.