gentle yoga for cancer recovery

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My mom is very spiritual and loved yoga. This year she was diagnosed with colon cancer and had to undergo emergency surgery. She currently has a colostomy bag attached to her, and always complains how she would like to do gentle meditation and yoga, but can't twist or do many of the poses. I was wondering if you could recommend any dvds that my mom could do at home that were more about breath and breathing vs poses. She has to stay at home a lot so I thought this would help her have some positivity in her life. Thanks! - Tara

a yogi answers

Hi Tara,

Thank you for your email. There are many ways to support your mom with her yoga practice during this transition in her life. One of the blessings that yoga offers is that there truly is a practice for each and everyone of us no matter where we are at. Asana, posture practice, comprises about 5% of what the teachings of yoga have to offer. The true benefit of yoga lies in the deeper practices of pranayama (breathing) and meditation.

Pranayama practice is a powerful emotional support for body, mind, and more importantly the energetic connection to life (spirit). Breathing is the sutra (thread) that connects life into our cells. Healing occurs on a cellular level and their is nothing more revitalizing to our cells than plenty of conscious breathing. Meditation being a higher form of practice helps to calm the mind of mental chatter and channels that focus and energy into healing and courage to live from a place of possibility and acceptance.

There are many forms of yoga practice that are less movement based and more energetic and breathing based. A favourite of mine is kundalini yoga. If you can get past the traditional dress and a bit of sanskrit there is a whole other domain of bliss and spiritual practice on offer.

There are many videos available and because kundalini yoga is a formulaic practice, which means it's consistent in its teachings, you could choose any video and benefit greatly. Each teacher is schooled in understanding the energetic benefit of the kriya, which is like a posture but a breathing posture with a specific mental focus. Gormukh Kaur Khalsa, a popular Kundalini teacher, has many videos available in book stores and on Amazon. The secret to benefiting from any practice is consistency. A little bit of breathing and meditation in the morning and evening is much more effective than doing a lot once a week.

Kind regards,
Claire, lululemon Burlington ambassador

a bit about claire

Claire has always been in awe of the incredible regenerative and healing powers that the human body possesses. She has seen this first hand with her 20 years experience as a critical care/emergency nurse in dramatic situations as well as her own personal experience of serious back issues that she had to deal with at one point in her life. It was the powerful physical aspects of her vinyasa practice that firstly connected her to the power of yoga. She has come to understand that this was just the tip of the iceberg. She teaches from a place of delivering an intelligent, rigorous, and kind physical practice that accesses the vast terrain of our mental and emotional domains that in turn allows us to come to terms with who we are as human beings. Claire is Certified Baptiste Master Teacher with degrees in Anatomy and Physiology, Kinesiology, and committed study in Ayurveda she facilitates Teacher and Assistant trainings, as well as life transformation programs in the US and abroad.

what is ask a yogi?

Ask a Yogi is a yoga advice column. If you have a yoga question for a lululemon yoga ambassador, please email

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Hi lulu! So glad you posted something about this. I work in the cancer field and have seen the benefits in person and in research of yoga. A few years ago, Yoga Journal had an article about the benefits of yoga during cancer treatment, and now studies are finding that yoga during survivorship (once treatment has ended) has great benefits both physically and psychologically. And the great thing is that even bedridden individuals can practice modified yoga, deep breathing, meditation, etc. :)

Comment by jaime — August 31, 2010 @ 6:16 am

Hello Claire,
Thank you for your insightful post. As a Kundalini Yoga teacher, I fully agree with the benefits that cancer patients can gain from Kundalini Yoga. I have seen what can only be called a miracle in modern medicine, but what we know better as the body’s own ability to heal itself. All that is required is an intention and the desire to heal.
with love,

Comment by Salimah Kassim-Lakha — August 31, 2010 @ 10:35 am

Namaste Claire

Shiva Rea has a beautiful CD called Drops Of Necter,It is full of beautiful guided Meditation,Pranayama,Shavasana and Yoga Nidra.I also would recommed Deepak Chopra Charka Meditation CD along with His Book ”The Seven Spirtual Laws Of Success.Wish I could do more to help!Sending A Heart Full of Love& Prayers……Om Shanti

Comment by Frances Bell — August 31, 2010 @ 10:39 am

Namaste Tara

Shiva Rea,Has A Beautiful CD Called Drops Of NectarIt Is Full Of Beautiful Guided Meditation,Pranayama,Shavasana And Yoga Nidra. I would also recommed Deepak Chopra Chakra Meditation CD,AS Well as His Book “”The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success.
Sending a Heart Full Of Love And Prayers.
Om Shanti

Comment by Frances Bell — August 31, 2010 @ 10:48 am

Thank you for your insight and spreading the word about yoga as a healing tool for cancer :)

We are a 5-year old non-profit providing free yoga to cancer patients in hospitals, as well as online. Lululemon has been a great supporter of our work, so thank you!

Yoga Bear

Comment by Yoga Bear — August 31, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

thank you for posting this. I encourage everyone to check out the CIBC Run for the Cure and participate any way they can. Lets beat this disease for good.

M THIRTY is proud to share this message on behalf of CIBC

Comment by emma — September 8, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

It is so good to see that cancer patients are finally getting the restorative treatments they so need. For more innovative approaches to cancer treatment you may want to check out the One Path Summit coming this March to Atlanta, Ga. Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez a leading expert in traditional and integrative approaches to cancer treatment is one of the featured speakers. Check out their website at

Comment by Sherry — January 23, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

I did a little exercise during my chemo and also worked my job full-time during the weeks that I was not receiving treatment. But 3 years later, I am still struggling with my balance and core. I’m not overweight or underweight, I feel like Im in good health but I’m scared that I can’t keep up in yoga class.

Comment by Renee — February 6, 2013 @ 9:55 am

aloha, I am a 22 years Cancer Survivors, American Cancer Society LOOK GOOD FEEL BETTER instructor as well as a trained Cancer Patient Navigator on Maui. My calling has been directing me to bring Kundalini Yoga to teach at Cancer Survivors Conference in Hawaii Island and bring the simple, easy effective Kundalini, Yin and Yoga Nidra to all my clients. The results is quick and boosting their Immune System as well to overcome and manage pain as well. Take each breath to live longer and well. Stay tune for my upcoming Yoga Retreats in Attitudes & Gratitudes on

Comment by Ruby Amarsharan — June 24, 2013 @ 12:37 am

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