January 13, 2013

Gentle Yoga for Cancer Patients. {Review}

Healing Practice to Create Harmony in Body and Mind

Gentle Yoga for Cancer Patients: Reconnecting Body, Mind and Spiri, Lynn Felder, R.Y.T.

*Note: the author received this DVD for free in return to review the said offering. That said, she says what she wants—good or bad, happy or sad.

When you think of yoga in 2013 you probably think of the latest hot Vinyasa power yoga class and perhaps some cute Lululemon pants, toning the body and whatnot. It is true that yoga is great for for the body as a means of a great workout but perhaps we have forgotten the deeper strength of this practice; the benefit of healing.

Enter Lynn Felder, R.Y.T.

Lynn Felder, an ovarian cancer surviver, and yoga teacher has designed a practice with healing in mind. Healing for the cancer patient, to be specific. This DVD is a wonderful tool for the patient who is either coping with cancer or coping with the treatment of cancer or maybe the student who is just looking for comfort all around; this DVD is a means to get the mind and body to a better place.
The purpose is to bring your body into a space of harmony so there is a sense of wellness with a balance of effort and relaxation. Although the poses aren’t “rigorous” by the average standard, they are quite powerful. Anyone can partake in the practice but of course you need a teacher, and what better teacher than a survivor, a person who has been there.
Lynn guides you through a seated meditation where she’s using blankets for extra cushioning and directs you to your breath. Her voice is soothing and I couldn’t help feeling mothered in a way that is so fleeting (once you are grown).

The guidance is assuring and very good for beginners and experienced alike.

She informs us of why the breath is so important and how the mind will process information throughout the practice so when the thoughts creep in you can return to the breath. She reminds you that each body is different in each pose and to respect your body and listen to it. She takes the time during the centering mediation to set the tone for the practice so you’re in a receptive state that’s non-judgmental.

After the guided imagery she takes you through the deepening three part breath and then through simple neck and shoulder exercises. She educates you about each exercise and brings your awareness to the tiniest of things i.e., the feeling of your shirt on your skin, for example and how each sensation fades away.

As for the main practice, using the chair for support she moves through arm movements and twists where Lynn says to only go to where it’s interesting. This, I thought was a great piece of advice for twists and every other pose since it’s so easy to overdo something, mistaking forced effort for success.

Seated Sun Salutations were practiced and surprisingly effective for those who are used to the Vinyasa flow version.

She guides the breath and movement together using the legs and arms with full range of motion and allowing for time for min-rests in between. Then she uses a strap to help stretch the legs into a chair seated forward fold.

In the restorative part of the practice she guides you through back bending, either on the chair or on the floor with lots of pillows and blankets for support. She advises to stay in the pose for 1-5 minutes or as long as it feels good.

After the backbends she does inversions with legs up the wall or on a chair as an alternate (she offers modifications for each pose).

She ends the practice in a lengthy bound angle pose taking the time to set up properly with lots of props and assuring the student that the preparation is well worth the effort (and it is!).

 This DVD is informative and comforting to the body as well as the mind.

It is a great resource for people in need of nourishment. She is an ideal teacher with her trusting nature and lilting voice. I highly recommend this as a source for people looking for a way to feel better and for people looking for a way to help others in need of healing feel better. It can be used as a model for a therapeutic class for yoga teachers.

Asst. Editor: Edith Lazenby

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