NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A cancer diagnosis can take anyone’s breath away.
But thanks to one organization, some patients are quite literally learning to breathe again, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reports.
The sound ‘om’ is chanted in most yoga classes. But for this group, the simple mantra is more like a sigh of relief.
“I had the trifecta – chemo, mastectomy, radiation,” said breast cancer patient Raquel Cion.
“When I found this lump, I thought, ‘Oh, I guess it’s my turn to have breast cancer,’” patient Toni Poynter said.
“If you just came out of cancer treatment, you might find, wow, I’ve been holding my breath this whole time,” said Clare Patterson, a yoga teacher and cancer survivor.
But when cancer takes your breath away, experts say yoga can give it back to you.
“Taking full inhales and exhales actually helps stimulate the immune system,” Teri Gandy-Richardson, owner and manager of Park Slope Yoga Center, told Hsu.
Watch: Gearing Up To Race For The Cure In Central Park
Patterson and Gandy-Richardson offer a Yoga 4 Cancer course to patients, survivors and their families for free, thanks to the support of the breast cancer organization, Susan G. Komen Greater NYC.
“Yoga is great for anybody… but this particular style ‘Yoga 4 Cancer’… has been devised to basically directly deal with the side effects from cancer treatments,” said Gandy-Richardson.
“There can be kind of this sense that your body belongs to medicine, to doctors, but there has to be that ownership that this is your body,” Patterson added. “You helped in that healing process… through the practice of yoga.”
Both women are cancer survivors themselves.
“I had breast cancer, it was stage two,” said Gandy-Richardson.
“When you get your cancer diagnosis, you feel like your body has betrayed you,” Patterson added.
They’re now helping others, like Cion and Poynter, do the same.
“It’s an incredibly alienating experience between… one’s mind and one’s body, and finding places where you can just be in your body with people who have a shared experience, there is an immediate comfort,” said Cion.
“It helped me regain my strength after my treatment. It helped me find a community… who’ve been through something like what I’ve been through,” Poyter said.
Medical research supports the idea that yoga aids in the recovering of cancer. For more information on free Yoga 4 Cancer classes, click here.
You can also click here to register to walk in or donate to the 28th annual Race for the Cure on September 9 in Central Park, also organized by Susan G. Komen Greater NYC.