“In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology.  In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.” ~ Oliver Sacks

 Yoga for Cancer SurvivorsYoga Thrive, (previously called Yoga for Cancer Survivors) began a pivotal turning point in my life.  I’ve always known that I wanted to help people on a larger scale but never knew what that might look like.  One of my mentors who was also one of my teachers at the time, asked me to become a part of the Yoga Thrive program and it has, quite simply, changed my life.

In 2007, I trained to become one of only a handful of teachers in Calgary trained to teach the Yoga Thrive program.  The program was the result of the brilliant research work of Dr. Nicole Culos-Reed, and was started with a simple, yet effective seven week protocol.   After I began teaching a couple times a week to those on a cancer journey, I immediately saw the impact yoga had on the lives of the participants.  The benefits were physical, energetic, spiritual and emotional.  What I witnessed, was my students moving themselves from a place of surviving to a place of thriving.  It was incredible.  Their courage, will and strength moved and inspired me.

As a result, I approached Dr. Culos-Reed and proposed the creation of an additional seven week program to follow the first.  As such, in November 2008, I began researching and developing what became Yoga Thrive Level Two.  I spent two years massaging  it and taking post level one students through the new program.  The feedback was fantastic.  I’m thrilled that in November 2010, the level two program I created was accepted into research at the University of Calgary and it’s benefits are now being studied.  It has now also been disseminated to a wider group of our trained teachers.  Level two has given our students the time they feel they need to maintain their practice, as many have not yet felt comfortable heading into a mainstream yoga studio.  Many of my level two students have been with me for several years now as they feel safe practicing with Yoga Thrive teachers who have specialized training.

I am blessed to teach out of Carma House, the amazing cancer care facility run by the exceptional volunteers at Wellspring Calgary.   Please see my “Current Schedule” page for a list of the current classes running.

If you or someone you know if trying to find their way through what can be a devastating diagnosis, please help them find this resource.  Those who go through a cancer journey need to find a new normal, and this can be a daunting task.  The Yoga Thrive program helps bring people together who are on a similar path, they share courses of action, success stories and sometimes just camaraderie.  Most of all, our yoga classes are a place for our survivors to take back some control over their bodies and that in itself, is a very powerful healing tool.

You will be guided safely through the following and learn the techniques to incorporate this into your daily life and home practice:

  • relaxation techniques – decrease stress and help insomnia
  • breathwork – diffuse anxiety and use to help in the healing process
  • yoga poses – improve or restore strength, flexibility and balance
  • core/pelvic floor – another important aspect of recovery is good pelvic floor health and these gentle exercises help you properly use your core

Who can participate?

Any adult cancer survivors (on or off treatment), and support persons of someone with a cancer diagnosis. Please note exercise (including therapeutic yoga) is not suitable for everyone. If you have any health concerns, we advise you to consult your physician prior to beginning a new program. If you are currently in active treatment (i.e., chemotherapy or radiation), we strongly recommend you talk with your Oncologist or Health Care Team to be sure they see no reason why you should not participate in a therapeutic yoga program at this time.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Yoga Thrive program, please contact Dr. Culos-Reed’s Health & Wellness Lab directly: phone. (403) 210-8482 or email  wellnesslab@kin.ucalgary.ca

The University of Calgary has produced the DVD shown above, for continued home use and for those in rural areas. 

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