Why yoga4cancer classes are so important

by Teri Gandy-Richardson

A few weeks ago, a woman came to our yoga4cancer Community Class Brooklyn class for the first time. She was quite scared and overwhelmed. I helped to get her yoga mat and props all set up. The poor thing was so distraught that she hugged me three times before class even started to thank me for helping her, being there and teaching class. I promised her that I would take care of her and that if she got tired, that she was to stop and rest. During class, if she became unsure, or a little lost and looked at me for support, I’d smile and give her a little wink to assure her that she was doing just fine. If she were on her left side, while we were on our right, I’d go over to gently redirect her, offer support and the assurance that she was safe, and accomplishing the requirements class. Students are simply required to show up as they are, do what they can, and are encouraged to feel good and strong about that. She did great!

At the end of the class, she thanked me again and hugged me twice more. She also told me that she was heading in for her first chemotherapy treatment at the end of the week. She was quite scared and she wanted to know what to expect. Fortunately/Unfortunately, I did not have to do chemo during my cancer treatments, so I told her that I could not provide specific advice on what to expect —however, there were two of my Y4C regulars in the room who had recently finished their treatments. I immediately asked them to counsel our newbie and without a blink, the two of them hovered around her with protective measure and shared what they knew. (It was awesome to see the confidence transform the two of them before my eyes as they became empowered while sharing their experience in service of their new sister. Stunning!) After their conversation, our new student came to me again to thank me for everything. She had enjoyed class, felt better in her body, got some insight on what to expect for her upcoming treatment and found a ‘home’ to return to once she was feeling better post treatment. She hugged me again and went home just a bit lighter. As I was leaving for the day, my desk staff told me that our new student had been dropped off for class by her daughters who were on their way out of town after visiting their mother. Literally like a relay race, her family who came to care for her, passed her into our care as their leg was done for now. That gave me goose pimples.

Two weeks ago, I had another new student who has been a cancer survivor for many years. She came to class because the frozen shoulder she has developed as a result of treatment and not moving as much as she had once intended is making her miserable and scared. She hadn’t done yoga before, her energy was good and she was very attentive through out the entire class. We did a lot of work with range of motion doing arm circles and chest opening exercises that are good for addressing scar tissue and the tightness that happens as a result of breast surgery and radiation. Moving the arms in that way is also an aerobic action that heightens natural breath-work and lung function, which is also the point of yoga. Deep breathing stimulates the thoracic duct that promotes the movement of lymphatic fluid through the body AND supports the immune system.

I have another student who quite like me came to her first yoga4cancer class very annoyed at what she had just been through. She had a yoga practice prior to the mastectomy that she had. I could see her in class as she was agitated by some of the ‘easier’ poses and sequences, then humbled by her lack of range and strength in others. It was quite interesting for me to be on the other side of that. She’s been back to class enough that she’s ready to move into some regular basic yoga classes. The last time I saw her, not only did we discuss that, but she told me that she has an 18-month old at home. She’s been dealing with cancer, surgery and all the while a baby as well?? I felt so happy and honored to tell her that she could take any of our Basic classes. Those are the classes I took when I was strong enough to move from the Y4C classes that I was attending. I also got to tell her that we have a Parent/Baby yoga class that is taught at a mixed level class with two teachers in the room to manage the babies so that the parents can practice!

Free Y4C classes for cancer patients, (and their caregivers, husbands and daughters so far), in any stage helps to reconnect survivors to their own bodies and lives is so important. This promotes self-care, self-healing and an element that medical support CANNOT do alone. This too is a bit of a relay race, where at a certain point, the handing over of the health care baton is necessary, most helpful and strategic. I’m incredibly humbled to be able to share my experience, my yoga practice and to be able to foster that in others. Not only can I offer Y4C, but can provide some vision and safety in their anticipation or desire for the next steps. We’re building a community of survivors who are becoming encouraged, empowered, healthy and stronger in their bodies because they are being supported in their need to be themselves in their fight against cancer. That is amazing!

Join Teri at the FREE yoga4cancer Class in Brooklyn. Register here.


How Yoga Transforms Lives

Our partners at Give Back Yoga Foundation are leaders in helping yoga programs like ours transform lives around the globe. Learn more about the challenges, the solutions and the real-life, measurable impact that the six core yoga programs of Give Back Yoga Foundation make on our community.

Download the full report GBYF-How-Yoga-Transforms-Lives.



“At Give Back Yoga Foundation, we strive to make yoga accessible to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the benefits of this powerful practice. As a national nonprofit yoga organization, we do this by supporting and funding six core yoga programs that use evidence-based modalities to serve at-risk and under-resourced populations.

With your generous support, our programs have transformed the lives of people affected by addiction, incarceration, war, eating disorders, and cancer. Collectively, our programs have brought hundreds of thousands of classes to those who need it most around the globe. Today, our programs are being studied in cutting-edge research on the therapeutic benefits of yoga for these populations.

It gives me great pleasure to share with you this report on how each of our programs uses the practice of yoga to transform lives.’

Namaste, Robert Schware Executive Director GIVE BACK YOGA FOUNDATION


Download the full report GBYF-How-Yoga-Transforms-Lives.

The results are in!

2017 yoga4cancer Teacher Training Program Results

In 2017, over 200 people participated in our 2017 Training programs from Florida, New York, Vermont, Tokyo, Kripalu, Virginia Beach, Boulder, Texas and more. 80% completed a post training survey and results are below:








  • 99% Satisfaction
  • 97% Likely to recommend

  • Strong improvement in comprehension of key concepts, ideas and benefits as conveyed in the training program (science of yoga, cancer & its treatment, appropriate poses, the immune system & yoga, etc)

Sample of the Testimonials:

  • “The course exceeded my expectations, providing me with solid, factual information about cancer, the challenges of recovery, and the ability of yoga to help face those challenges. I am grateful to the y4c team and my co-teachers for sharing their knowledge of how yoga can turn survivors into thrivers.”  Judee, Vermont 2017
  • “I enjoyed Tari’s Yoga 4 Cancer Training! I think the pre-training course is very beneficial because it presents the material in a way that allows you to study at your own pace and have time to absorb the material!  It’s much more manageable in that format.” Terry, Boulder 2017
  • The y4c methodology is a brilliant combination of science, experience and compassion. As a cancer survivor and yoga teacher, this training changed my life. I learned how yoga can benefit those touched by cancer, as well as the importance of community and knowledge in the healing of body and mind. – Ana, Boca Raton, 2017
  • Tari’s y4c training was invaluable to me.  as a yoga teacher of cancer survivors and not being a survivor myself, this training provided me the concrete information about what can happen to someone dealing with cancer and it’s treatment, as well as a practice that can help mind, body and spirit. Deborah, Kripalu, 2017

These surveys were invaluable as they provide guidance on how we can improve, evolve and grow the program.  As a team of perfectionist, we always look to change something! So we are now busy with those developments, including:

  • Incorporating more key poses and demonstrations
  • Launching the 3rd Edition of the Manual
  • New webinars, videos and support
  • Increased opportunity to get to know your fellow classmates
  • And many more..

To join our community in 2018, please check out our schedule and register today.  Click here for the 2018 yoga4cancer teacher training schedule.

What Yoga Teachers Need to Know About Teaching Cancer Survivors


by Tari Prinster. Published in Kripalu.  See the original here.

What Yoga Teachers Need to Know About Teaching Cancer Survivors

Yoga for cancer patients—what better way to manage anxiety, gain strength, increase flexibility, and create feelings of well-being! A growing body of research points to this path, both during and after treatment. But it’s important for teachers to realize that teaching yoga to cancer patients and survivors is different than teaching yoga in a typical class. Here’s why.iStock_62230944_XXXLARGE_header

Specialized Training Is Required

B. K. S. Iyengar said it best: “Do not imagine that you already understand and impose your imperfect understanding on those who come to you for help.” Most yoga teachers, whatever their style or practice, are trained to teach a general population. While 200-hour trainings typically include anatomy modules, there’s not enough time to cover specific physiological topics, such as cell development, or psychological challenges, like the acute anxiety induced by a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease. It’s not possible to cover the specific needs or risks of the survivor in a standard yoga training.

A specialized teacher training about cancer, like my Yoga4Cancer(y4c) methodology, helps teachers identify and work with the lifelong side effects triggered by cancer and its treatments. Yoga teachers need the essential facts about both cancer and yoga because understanding, not just compassion, is essential. Compassion might, for example, lead a teacher to provide only gentle or restorative poses for a cancer survivor. But yoga is not just a relaxation technique; movement is necessary to stimulate the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems that assist in recovery and in creating long-term stability. Recent research suggests that the physical exercise provided by yoga improves immune function, reduces inflammation, and enhances the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation. Still, there are limits, especially right after surgery, or if a survivor is physically challenged. Only training and supervised experience can inform a yoga teacher about safe and effective methods of adapting yoga for this population.

Safety Comes First

Healing begins with feeling safe. Safety for a cancer survivor, whether physical or psychological, can be different than for a typical student. The effects of some cancer treatments go beyond hair loss and fatigue to create serious long-term fragilities requiring special attention. For example, a Forward Bend, a yoga staple, can be dangerous to cancer survivors, because bone loss created by chemotherapy is a common long-term side effect; doing a Forward Bend quickly without warming up can fracture or rupture spinal vertebrae. Yoga teachers who work with cancer patients need to anticipate such risks.

Emotional safety is important as well. Survivors bring their fears to class, such as the fear of developing lymphedema (fluid retention and swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system), which may be as strong as the fear of cancer. Students need to hear that the teacher understands their fears and will know how to provide modifications of poses or sequences they teach. A student touched by cancer might be struggling to understand the new limitations of her body and will be looking for reassurance and informed advice.

Risk Factors When Teaching Survivors

When teaching workshops or giving y4c trainings, I am often asked about yoga’s benefits. Rarely am I asked about its risks. But, like cancer, yoga is not “one size fits all.” Each survivor’s specific cancer, treatments, side effects, and body are different, and yoga teachers must adapt to their needs. The difference in teaching yoga to cancer survivors is that the risks are higher and a teacher should know what they are.

My short list of risk factors includes:

  • Fragile bones that increase the risk of fracture
  • Abdominal obstructions and sensitivities
  • Weak or missing muscles
  • Peripheral neuropathy affecting balance
  • A compromised immune system, increasing the risk of infection.

Becoming an Authentic Teacher

When offering a class for cancer survivors, a teacher is saying, “I am responsible. I know what yoga is best for you and I will protect you from possible discomfort and injury, and calm your doubts or fears with knowledge and facts.” Survivors expect teachers to understand three general topics: first, the effects of cancer treatments on the body; second, the poses that have the most benefits; and third, the poses that can be harmful.

Survivors will come with questions:

  • Will Downward-Facing Dog cause lymphedema?
  • Would hot yoga be good for flushing chemotherapy toxins from my body?
  • When is it safe to start doing yoga after starting treatments?
  • If I have implants, could they rupture doing yoga?
  • Is it okay to practice yoga with axillary nerve damage?
  • Forward bends cause me pain. Am I doing something wrong?

Be prepared with answers to questions, anticipated and unanticipated, about both yoga and cancer. Authenticity starts with having answers to such questions without hesitation—and also having the honesty to say, “I’m not sure, but I know how to get the right answer.”

It’s also important that a yoga teacher for cancer survivors takes the time to reflect on and process her personal fear of cancer and dying. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the suffering of others. Inexperienced teachers may treat students with hesitation, due to a lack of confidence or their own fears about cancer and dying. In my personal experience as a survivor, a yoga teacher who was overly compassionate only made me feel more like an invalid, rather than on my way to health and recovery. I found hope and well-being in being treated as “normal,” without coddling or denial.

I hear the same from my students. They get treated as patients by their doctor, nurses, family, and friends. Having to reconnect with that feeling is not why survivors come to yoga class. Learn the facts about cancer and appreciate that true compassion flows from knowledge and facts, not just feelings.

Cancer Is the Real Teacher

Some survivors will not make it, and a yoga teacher must be prepared to face that reality. I believe that living with fear makes me a warrior. It is the first lesson cancer teaches a survivor: having to be prepared for the uncertainty of a whole new life. For someone with a life-threatening diagnosis, practicing Savasana, the final resting pose, is no longer an abstraction. It is part of daily life.

I believe this is the biggest difference in teaching yoga to cancer survivors. A life-threatening illness can help us all learn how to live fearlessly. If faced directly, cancer is everyone’s teacher.

Learn more about getting the training you need from Tari and yoga4cancer.  Click here for details and schedules.

Give Survivors the Gift of Yoga

What began as one woman’s quest to find renewal and peace while surviving cancer has evolved into a specialized yoga4cancer methodology that is changing the lives of others on a global scale. This work is desperately needed. The activities of this past year alone provide the evidence. We get closer to this reality every day: yoga can help create healthier lives for all cancer patients and survivors. Yoga as part of a holistic approach makes a significant impact by reducing the risk of cancer and managing treatment side effects.

It has been our goal to:

  • STRENGTHEN cancer survivors currently in-treatment or out of treatment as they deal with their own unique short & long term side effects of cancer treatments
  • TRAIN as many yoga teachers and medical professionals  as possible so that trainees, in turn, can bring this specialized methodology to patients and survivors everywhere
  • BROADEN our reach to underserved communities globally
  • LEAD a movement that will result in medical professionals everywhere choosing yoga as a first-line prescription along with other generally accepted treatments, and to be the credible source utilizing our unique approach & methodology.

Which leads us to acknowledge there is so much more work to be done. As we look forward to next year, we know that the need for this important work will not lessen. Our 2018 goals are clear:

  • $25 gives a survivor one yoga class with a y4c trained teacher
  • $100 funds one month of yoga classes for a survivor
  • $500 places the book, Yoga for Cancer, in 25 hospitals
  • $1,000 is a scholarship for one yoga teacher to complete yoga4cancer training
  • $10,000 is one-year sponsorship for one y4c class

Great success is not possible without a supportive community, and we are deeply grateful for the many corporations, foundations, and individuals who have steadfastly supported us time and again. With this kind of contribution, we find the inspiration and resources to continue this great work.

Make your #GivingTuesday tax-deductible donation to The Retreat Project online here or donate by check to: The Retreat Project, PO Box 1235, Stowe, VT 05672.


Tari Prinster

Founder, The Retreat Project & Yoga4Cancer

Having the tools to empower

My friend Jenny* hates yoga. As a Former Div 1 college athlete, this 30 year old mom finds yoga to be too slow, boring and “granola”. However, Jenny also hates Cancer and the side affects of chemo- namely constipation.

So here’s why I love y4c: it’s practical and accessible. When I recently saw Jenny at brunch, instead of saying, “hey you should come to a yoga class to find community and solutions”- all the things I know she would bristle at – I was able, in the middle of the restaurant, to show and empower her with tools she could use whether or not she ever stepped foot in a y4c class or yoga studio.

As Jenny sat in her chair I was able to show her some gentle twists. Using the chair back as leverage, I guided her into utilizing her abdomen versus her shoulders to create the twist compression on the ascending and descending colon. Then, I demonstrated a lymphatic massage of the digestive organs, making clockwise circles across my stomach using the pressure of my flattened hand. Lastly, I took a napkin, rolled it up lengthwise like a cigar and placed it across my lower abdomen and hugged my knees in one at a time so she could see how to use a blanket at home to create the same effect. Variations of these postures are shown on pages 268-269 of Yoga for Cancer.

Yoga meets you where you are. Literally.

By Lindsey Pearson, RYT, y4c and The Retreat Project Board member

Support cancer survivors on AmazonSmile!


Did you know that every time you make a purchase on Amazon they will give us a share to help the work we do? This is at no cost to you.  So if you are getting some new towels, perhaps a copy of Yoga for Cancer, or Holiday presents, a share will be given to us to help cancer survivors find the healing through yoga.

What is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. 

How to do it:

  1. Go to Amazon Smile amazonsmile-action
  2. Bookmark and Save to your search engine header (e.g. Chrome, Safari etc). So that you ALWAYS use Amazon Smile.
  3. Sign into your standard Amazon Account or set one up.
  4. Select Retreat Project Inc through the select a charity.  The Retreat Project is the non-profit partner of Yoga4Cancer and funds cancer survivor classes, scholarships and grants for trained teachers.  Learn more at theretreatproject.org.
  5. Thats it!  Then go shopping.  You will receive an email with more information from Amazon Smile. And we will receive and cherish your contribution.

We hope that you join us in this small act of kindness so that together we can help more cancer survivors live longer, healthier and happier lives!

For more information about Amazon Smile, please go here.



Ask Tari: I am 8 weeks post bilateral breast surgery…. should I do yoga?

“Dear Tari – I am 8 weeks post bilateral breast surgery with tissue expanders.  I have to be careful of engaging my pec muscles and lymphedema.  I am receiving PT for shoulder / range of motion issues.  What is your staff’s expertise?  How are the poses modified to accommodate my needs? Thanks, Jane

Tari’s Response:

Jane – First, how is it going with the expanders? Eight weeks should be great timing to start a yoga practice (yoga4cancer) specifically designed to help you maintain range of motion until you have the implant surgery. 

Yes, I have personally trained all the y4c teachers. Some have experienced bi-lateral reconstruction.

There are many ways to protect the pec muscles allowing the expanders to do their job. The y4c (yoga4cancer) methodology places focus on each survivors individual needs based on research and experience. And each teacher is trained to accommodate and modify accordingly. We understand how to make you comfortable at the same time assist the muscles to stay healthy and function well.

Lymphedema is a concern for every breast cancer survivor. Myself included. There are many ways the yoga we do in y4c classes can be preventative as well as provide relief. At this time for you prevention is the focus.  But over your lifetime you are at risk. Understanding how yoga works for both relief and prevention is part of every y4c yoga class. Learning how and knowing this give you confidence and reduce your concerns.

Here are some videos to get you started… but in the class you will experience many others. Veronica - Cactus Clap


Please know that its important to keep your ‘team’ aware and informed.  For example:

  1. Share with your DR and oncology team that you want and are attending yoga classes.
  2. Be sure to share your current situation, any challenges, needs or concerns with your yoga teacher..  They can help provide modifications and support.

All that being said, I hope you join us in a y4c class. You will meet others who have been on a similar journey, learned to use yoga properly, have seen and experienced the benefits.

Please check out the schedule here and be sure to sign up in advance.  https://y4c.com/nycclasses/. And please let me know if you have any further questions.



yoga4cancer at the Dubin Breast Center

We are thrilled to be working with the Dubin Breast Center to offer a weekly yoga4cancer class for their patients – past and present.  All classes are free but advanced registration is recommended.Dubin Breast Cancer Center

  • When: on Tuesday from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Where:  Dubin Breast Center

To register: Call or email Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN at 212-241-0741, kelly.hogan@mountsinai.org. *Participants must reserve their spots in advance.  Restrictions to participation may be put in place at any time.

About yoga4cancer Classes

Group yoga classes for Dubin Breast Center patients are provided on an ongoing weekly basis through a partnership the yoga4cancer organization. Developed by Cancer Survivor and Master Yoga Teacher, Tari Prinster, y4c classes follow an evidence-based methodology tailored to address the specific needs of cancer patients and survivors.  All y4c classes:

  • Build strength & flexibility in safe ways_MG_0854
  • Stimulate the immune system & build bone density
  • Cultivate a sense of well-being
  • Create hope & community
  • Empower all to take control & enhance quality of life
  • Taught by an experienced, trained y4c teacher

All y4c instructors have received advanced training with Tari and are sensitive to concerns associated with the post-operative patient, and those currently undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments. Classes are excellent for all levels, including beginners or women who are recovering from or undergoing treatment periods. Yoga classes are mat-based but can be modified for participants who would prefer to sit in chairs. All yoga experience or fitness levels are welcome.

Classes are offered in NYC yoga studios every week.  Click here for more information.


Join Tari & y4c teachers at the SYTAR sessions!


June 9-12th in Reston, Virginia

CIC #3:  Yoga for the Cancer Community:  A Gathering of Practitioners

Co-Chairs:  Tari Prinster, MA, RYT and Lara Benusis, E-RYT 500, RCYT 

The rate of cancer survivors is increasing and yoga is a natural bridge that can provide support for people during and after treatment. There are an increasing number of yoga professionals drawn to serving this growing need. Yoga therapists in this emerging field must be able to apply the tools of yoga in the context of a therapeutic relationship. Equally important, is the need to embrace a constantly changing health care environment and a new paradigm of health and well-being while keeping a watchful eye on the research as we interface effective new models of care. It is imperative to develop innovative collaborations while integrating and benefiting from practiced skills and knowledge. In this session, you will hear from colleagues who have brought their abilities and compassion to support the cancer community. This gathering is a unique and intimate opportunity to share stories, to discuss resources and forge new relationships as we draw inspiration from one another. Coming together, we leave better prepared to uphold the best possible future for our communities.
Session Presentations: Including y4c Teachers

Who’s Afraid: Managing My Fear and Finding Confidence When Bringing Yoga to Cancer Survivors
Yoga Therapy for Cancer Classes, a framework to integrate yoga therapy tools in a yoga class
Hospital Yoga for Cancer Patients in Active Treatment: The Eight Limbs and the Four H’s
Releasing the Shock of a Cancer Diagnosis Through Yoga Therapy
Yoga Therapy for Breast Cancer Survivors
Yoga for Survival, Yoga for Life
West Moves East

Register and join.  


Research – New and Exciting!

Over the past few weeks and months, there has been numerous new research studies and findings that validate our yoga4cancer methodology and approach.  We wanted to share with you:

  • researchGentle yoga is not enough. Active yoga (and exercise) is necessary for cancer survivors and patients.  ‘Mice who spent their free time on a running wheel were better able to shrink tumors (a 50% reduction in tumor size) compared to their less active counterparts. Researchers found that the surge of adrenaline that comes with a high-intensity workout helped to move cancer-killing immune (NK) cells toward lung, liver, or skin tumors implanted into the mice. The study appears Feb. 16, 2016 in Cell Metabolism.’  Read more here.
  • ‘Meditation eases pain, anxiety and fatigue during breast cancer biopsy’ by Duke Cancer Institute. Read more here.
  • ‘Exercise during menopause could reduce hot flashes.’ Conducted by ‘Women’s Bio-behavioral Health Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh.  Read more here. 
  • ‘Yoga Shown to Boost Brain Power in Older Adults’ (from 2014 but still a good one).  By University of Illinois. Read more here.

That is just a few that have been circulating and we have shared on Facebook.  To be the first to know, make sure you follow us on Facebook (and ‘Get notifications’).

Also, all this research and loads more is reviewed and part of the yoga4cancer Teacher Training Program.  Learn more.


y4c Teacher Training – New & Improved in 2016!


In 2015, yoga4cancer launched the first ever Online+Weekend Teacher Training program. This hybrid program utilized technology and self-study whilst retaining the hands-on supervised training that Tari and her team have used over the past decade to train over 1,000 yoga teachers and other compassionate professionals.  We are pleased and very proud that 122 individuals participated in our advanced, specialized training programs in 2015 alone. We were eager to receive feedback, so we included a survey to test and monitor performance.  Here are the results:

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 1.18.58 PM

“The y4c Teacher Training was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. I would recommend this training to anyone who wants to focus on yoga for cancer or yoga for anyone challenged with a disease. I would do it all over again!” C. Scott – July 2015


“As a yoga teacher, this was an empowering and humbling experience. This program will change your approach to yoga and your teaching methods. Not only did I enhance my knowledge of the benefits of yoga for cancer survivors, I learned the skills necessary to teach patients and survivors.” D. Migone – July 2015


“This training exceeded my expectations in the techniques for teaching yoga to individuals with cancer and those in remission or survivors. The research behind the specific yoga asanas, the sequencing and the benefit to cancer patients or survivors was beyond what I had anticipated.” – J. Hanson – August 2015


“The y4c teaching training is one of the most rewarding trainings I have been privileged to be part of. The y4c methodology is practical and relevant supporting both the science of cancer and yoga. I believe I am a better teacher having made been a part of this training!” M. Schooley – August 2015

New & Improved in 2016!

Based on specific feedback in these surveys, we have made some updates to the successful training program to make it even better for the needs of our yoga professional students and, ultimately, to benefit the survivors they work with.

  • 40% more yoga4cancer poses and vinyasa sequences featured
  • One week added to the length of the program to improve the quality of learning
  • Additional live webinar with Tari & the team to provide support & guidance
  • Improved tools & resources on applying the y4c method to different yoga styles

These changes are aimed at ensuring that our training program is the best possible and to help our trained teachers be successful in their work with the cancer community, because only together can we help more survivors live longer, healthier and happier.

For more information about our training programs and yoga4cancer in general.  Please visit our program options page.  We look forward to working with you soon!


MargaretThis holiday season we want to give you the gift of Meditation.  Research suggests that meditation can help reduce pain and promote healing.  This is a wonderful complement and part of any yoga practice.  And for this holiday season, we want to make starting a daily mediation easy and free.  

Our friend and fellow yoga teacher, Lynne Goldberg has created a new phone or device application to help you meditate. OMG. I Can Meditate! is booming and helping millions of people across the globe. So, together with Lynne, we want to give our community an opportunity to experience this powerful tool for FREE.  

OMG_vector_outlined_CS5_blue_newversion-0_200x200Register below and you will have the chance of winning one of 5 Premium Accounts for 3 months.  But don’t worry, everyone wins and gets access to mediation tools!  Plus Lynne has developed a mediation targeted for our community – Meditations for Chemotherapy.

Register & Meditate TODAY!

About OMG. I Can Meditate!

The OMG. I Can Meditate! app is the easiest way to bring the benefits of meditation into your life. Learn how to meditate using simple techniques to help you reduce stress & anxiety, sleep better, sharpen your mind, and feel happier.

Learn more about Lynn and the app here.

Tari’s going to Miami!

Join Tari @ Yoga Journal LIVE in Miami!

Tari’s Workshop:

Yoga for Cancer (y4c): Why Gentle Yoga Is Not Enough


Monday, November 16 — 9:00am – 4:30pm
Monday Full-Day Workshops
Therapeutic / Continue Your Education / Mixed Levels

Save 15% with promotion code: TARI

Register TODAY!

L1080562 There are 14.3 million Americans living with cancer today. Increasing evidence demonstrates that yoga provides physical and emotional support during and after cancer treatment. Survivors want and need yoga–but what kind? It is commonly believed the best kind of yoga for cancer is gentle and restorative in nature. This idea is misleading, limiting, and potentially harmful.

Presenting the practical science based y4c methodology, this workshop starts with what cancer patients and survivors really need and want, analyzes the benefits of an Veronica - Cactus Clapactive yoga practice, challenges misconceptions about cancer and yoga, and demonstrates poses and language that create courage and wellness. Discover the unique methodology now used by more than 1,500 yoga teachers to cultivate healing yoga for the cancer community across the globe. Come with curiosity and compassion; leave with clarity and confidence!

Some discussion, lots of demonstration and asana. All are welcome.

y4c on YogaUOnline!


Please join Tari at the launch of yoga4cancer YogaUOnline course for only $67! Cancer survivors & patients, yoga teachers and the just the curious are welcome and encouraged to come!yoga u online logo

Dates: Monday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Time:  8:30 pm Eastern / 5:30 pm Pacific

Learn the benefits of yoga for cancer survivors including the science & research, the methodology and a sample class in the comfort of your home! This introductory course is priced at $67 and includes:
  • Two 60 minute lectures with Tari Prinster
  • One 30 minute yoga practice video
  • Recordings & Transcripts of all sessions!
  • Ideal for cancer survivors, yoga teachers and the curious!

Register Now!

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Tari in Lesbos to witness the Syrian Refugee Plight

Tari is currently on the island of Lesbos, Greece which has been the entry point for thousands of Syrian refugees over the past few months.  She is there on her annual pilgrimage to study with Angela Farmer and this time she’s been able to witness, help and support the refugees. Here are her first observations.   

Greetings from the village of Eftalou on Lesvos Island in Greece. I arrived on Sunday with heavy jet lag, but joyful to be treated by the same taxi driver and innkeeper from last year. I watched my first sunset of this trip over the Aegean Sea while eating the first grilled bass. After nearly 17 hours of travel, I went to sleep shortly after that sun set.

My accounting here will not be more about the beautiful FullSizeRender-2environs, great food and yoga, but rather the refugee situation. Upon landing on this beautiful, modestly populated agricultural island, here are some things I have been observing. This island is so close to Turkey that the entire east coast is open to boats with refugees, seeking to make their way to Mytiline, the port city where they get the critically essential refugee papers to continue their journey to safety in the EU. These refugees pay up to $1,000 each to cross the 6 miles from Turkey to Greece.

After landing In Athens, I flew to Mytiline from where I took a taxi to the village of Eftalou, about 50 miles across high rugged sun drenched hills on the north shore of Lesvos facing the shore of Turkey, 6 miles across the Aegean Sea. It is precisely this spot that the flimsy rubber boats with has many as 70 arrive in a constant procession every day.

Before the taxi ride here my driver took me past the camps in Mytiline. The yellow and blue sun protection tents line the streets surrounding the Municipal complex. So do the waiting Syrians, Afgans and others seeking safety from their civial war. It is hot- 90 degrees plus.

FullSizeRender-1We traveled north on switch backs over the barren hills, the road lined with “walkers” each wearing a single backpack. They include small children, babies, men and women, but mostly young men and women. They all appeared tired, but other wise healthy and, yes, well dressed. These are not scruffy,poor, bedraggled (yet) refugees. Oh, yes, they all have cell phones that are already in use. Being that I am not using mine because of cost and connectivity complications, they have out smarted me already.

It is extremely hot and the mountains are steep. Their backpacks are full of money, medicines and tools, and even though most could pay, Taxis are forbidden by law to give them rides, even for double the money until they have papers. So they walk, for hours and sometimes days to get from Eftalou to Mytiline.

FullSizeRender_2On my first day of yoga I walked half a mile along the beginning portion of their journey’s road after escaping and abandoning the makeshift boats. The is the second part of my story when I witness and aided in rescue of two boats on Monday night.

What is remarkable to me is how middle class, healthy, gentle, grateful and happy they all seem. As I pass a group of young men this morning taking their first arrival smoke they are smiling and polite. There was one young woman who passed me walking alone. Twenties I would say. She wore a perfectly wrapped Muslim head scarf over a well cut black business suite, practice shoes and only a backpack. (Black, of course). Obviously she left everything back from where she came and was dressed for her ‘next’ job interview.

The beautiful beaches of Eftalou are a mess sadly of plastic debris. Water bottles, lift jackets (impressive pics of them to come). The deflated boats piled on top of one another taking up beach space and now part of the ‘sun bathing’ experience for the local Greeks.

The sea is constantly patrolled by GR coast FullSizeRenderguard. By law they are to send boats back and rescue only people in the water. Thus the life jackets. The refugees ‘kill’ their boats (inflated tubes) and swim ashore. Hard to do with a baby and small children. The Greek coast guard often turns a blind eye. But some one from the boat must swim the distance to negotiate.

Next I will account for the night rescue, send pics and give the GR perspective.

Love, Tari


Part 2- the journey continues

Sunday is the start of week two in Eftalou. There is no yoga on Sundays, so I started my morning with a hot springs bath and swim in the Aegean Sea. I also spent time cleaning up life jackets and empty water bottles, evidence of the thousands of refugees making their way to the EU.

The afternoon was a hot walk to Molyvos for supplies and dinner. All along these paths I passed nearly 2,000 refugees. Major influx felt. I Welcomed folks as I passed them, and wished them good luck. In turn they smiled and replied “Thanks” in English.

I saw families, but mostly men, strong and confident. But so many… they are just passing through here. The camp in Mytiline will try their will.

The refugees have disrupted the tourist business and demand resources to manage their presence, like constant assistance from the Coast Guard, refugee clean up, and immigration processing. There is no government money for this. Fortunately, humanitarianism is not connected to economic stress.

Under the unforgiving heat of this Sunday afternoon I saw a farmer stop his truck and help pile in the children of a large group. Another volunteer group organized a “welcome wagon” with water, directing hundreds to a school yard 7 km away that will serve as the first ‘camp’. A local restaurant provides sandwiches.

Refugees stay less than 12 hours here before making the next 35 km leg of their journey. A local told me that not a single robbery or assault has occurred since this all started, and I want to believe that.

One of the people in the yoga workshop is organizing financial assistance and I find it inspiring. There is a decent system in place that ensures the funds will go to supplying water upon arrival, which will help keep people hydrated as they trek 7 km to Molyvos where food is available. I want to pitch in, so I ask, and he says that, as a woman, what is needed from me are ‘feminine’ supplies and diapers for the refugees. So, instead of filling water bottles, I bought sanitary napkins to distribute as I pass women and families on my way to yoga.

Tonight there is a cool breeze on Lela’s deck over the sea. As the sun sets I can see the shore of Turkey, 4 miles away with the outline of hills and the lights of villages.

It is said that 1 million are waiting to cross. It is an exodus that inspires awe and compassion. Does the rest of the world feel the impact?


‘Its the best training I’ve ever taken’…


by Janet Arnold-Grych, y4c Trained Teacher, Chicago, IL

As a yoga teacher for nearly a decade, I’ve had the good fortune to participate in many different yoga trainings from contemplative to physically crazy. Yesterday I completed Tari’s y4c training and I think it was the best training I’ve ever taken.

First, this is an amazingly well researched program. y4c is grounded in fact and practicality, and of course Tari’s personal experience. Tari doesn’t start with creating asana sequences. She starts with explaining in detail the components of the immune system and how yoga can assist cancer survivors by specifically targeting key aspects of the immune system. Compassion is essential in teaching yoga to people touched by cancer but it’s not enough. That compassion must be grounded in knowledge and Tari does a beautiful job providing that background in several different ways.

L1080603Second, Tari is a light. Her approachability, energy and authenticity draw people to
her.During our training, Tari created and held space for me and 18 strong women, many of whom were cancer survivors themselves. There were tears and laughter and even bad jokes. There was validation and support around every opinion, every question. As much as we were all in awe of Tari’s effortless instruction (we were able to experience two of her classes), Tari isn’t about being the center of attention. She’s about creating community because she knows that’s where the real power of this movement lies. The collective power of a wave of knowledgeable, caring teachers will enable many more survivors to be reached. It  will also be more impactful in shifting the medical community’s collective understanding of the benefits of yoga to people touched by cancer.

L1080736Third, yoga teachers rock. Yes, in the past I’ve met some who are more concerned with the physical showiness of pretty poses but they are in the minority. Most teachers I know are in it for the big picture—the ability to help students taste nonreactivity, nonjudgement, release.  The yoga teachers I met in my y4C training were inspirational–kind, accepting, insightful. Our shared goals instantly connected us and the mutual respect was palpable. During training we were able to team teach and each person in my group brought a different perspective and knowledge base that made my learning so much richer.

As I said, many of in my training were cancer survivors themselves. I had questions and every person I spoke with thoughtfully answered my questions so I could better understand what someone with cancer or on the other side of treatment might think and feel. Those direct conversations were invaluable. They also reaffirmed why I was there.

Like any training, you get out of it what you put you in to it. But based on my experience, I believe that any yoga teacher who steps into this opportunity with the right intention and commitment will be amazed at what they discover. Tari has assembled a curriculum that is rich and real. I am so excited to apply this knowledge and continue to learn within the broader community of y4c teachers. It is an amazing training and I am very grateful to Tari for it.janet headshot


Janet Arnold-Grych, y4c Trained Teacher


Ask Tari: What poses would you recommend for post operation Breast Cancer?

Recently, a friend, student and fellow yoga teacher asked me what poses I would recommend for breast cancer post surgery, as she is now facing this situation herself.  This is a common question, since 30% of all women’s cancer is of the breast. For that reason, I will share the answer.

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one would expect.  But to put it simply = all of them.  The key is to understand what symptoms or issues an individual is facing, what that person needs to manage or wants to alleviate.  For example, is the individual wanting to build strength, reduce scar tissue, avoid the occurrence of lymphedema, detoxify or simply relax and manage stress?  These are all things that breast surgery and breast cancer treatments can cause, not the cancer. Thus, all yoga poses should be embraced and used to manage the side effects of cancer and its treatments.

As the question makes reference to ‘post-operation’, my feeling is that the request for poses were more about scar tissue, flexibility and, ultimately, strength of the arms and torso.  So here are four exercises that I have found useful both in my own recovery and with my students. But there are many, many more in my book – Yoga for Cancer.

1. Cactus Clap

2. Dirty Tshirt 

3. Restorative Fish

4. Full Body Stretch 

As mentioned above, these are just my recommendations for the immediate post-operation symptoms and side effects.  The management of a breast cancer surgery can often be short sighted.  Any breast surgery or lumpectomy brings other risks, like lymphedema, or loss of strength and support of other body parts and systems.  So although the initial concern might be for the breast / upper body areas post surgery, I urge everyone to embrace yoga as a tool to manage all the side effects of any cancer and its treatments. But most importantly, yoga helps keep your immune system strong reducing the risk of recurrence or other cancers.

Navigating Cancerland with Yoga – by Tari Prinster


As featured in the Spring 2015 issue of the Yoga Therapy Today by IAYT. Download the pdf here Spring2015_YTIP_NavigatingCancerland.


Fourteen years ago, when I heard those three words, “You have cancer,” they took my breath away. A cancer diagnosis is like falling off a swing as a child—the shock, hitting the hard ground, that thud sound, then the gasp for air, all in a split second. That is how I felt.

No matter the type or stage, cancer is a cold new reality. I survived the initial shock only to find myself enrolled in Cancer Boot Camp, what the late Christopher Hitchens called “cancerland” because of its strange customs and scary words. 1 Suddenly, I had to learn medical terms like “sentinel node biopsy” and “metastasis;” I heard about remedies like macrobiotic diets and mistletoe treatment that sounded odd to me, and I heard frightening statistics about survival rates. There was no time to sort out personal emotions before making life-and-death decisions. I found myself flooded with emotions and existential questions. How could this be happening? What did I do wrong? Why me? What do I do next? It was all so exhausting.

I had to get this roller coaster under control. Just as frustrating were all my questions about cancer as a disease, the treatment options, and their long-term side effects, none of which were ever fully explained by either my surgeon or oncologist. So, I read as much as I could, and I learned that there are few simple answers to what causes cancer or how to cure it. Sometimes, even though we follow health guidelines, don’t smoke, and eat right, we develop a cancer that starts with a random cell mutation.

When the diagnosis conversation started, my first question to my doctor was, “How do I get rid of it?” My doctor explained the basics: what a tumor is, why it should be removed, how that is done, and what happens after that. At first, I could barely hear the words, and I certainly didn’t understand them. I had a serious breast cancer—a large palpable tumor— and the treatment regimen would be aggressive because of the tumor grade.

The prescription given to me was the conventional Western route: lumpectomy surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy for ten months, then radiation. My navigation through the healthcare system started with a sentinel node biopsy, which is a diagnostic procedure to remove lymph nodes in the chest wall to check for possible metastasis outside the original tumor. Before cancer, I had no idea how many lymph nodes lived in my body, or where they were. My understanding of the immune system was minimal. That would all change.

Cancer treatments force you to think about the smallest details of daily life. I had worn a long-sleeved T-shirt to the hospital for my second surgery, but I had to use a surgical scissor afterwards to cut it open because I could not raise my arm over my head. No one had told me how to dress for cancer surgery! (Wear shirt that buttons up the front.) More seriously, no one told me that removing lymph nodes in the chest wall would traumatize the pectoral muscles.

Fears began to pile up fast. Range of motion was gone in my right arm. Removal of lymph nodes created the risk of lymphedema: a disfiguring, physically limiting condition in which lymph fluid builds up in tissues, causing swelling. As many of my yoga students now express, fear of lymphedema can be stronger than the fear of dying. Then came the warning that the loss of sensation in my right arm could be irreversible. After surgery and before chemo, my nurses explained how I would empty the surgical drains left in my chest wound and wished me well as I took the first step on the path of survivorship and went home.

Honestly, I left the hospital grateful for the knowledge and expertise of my doctors and nurses, but also feeling let down, alone, and with many more questions and fears than answers. Leaving the hospital, I had a fistful of pain meds, but no prescription to manage long-term side effects. I was warned what not to do, but not prepared with any “this is what you should do.” The big questions about living with cancer and rebuilding my life were never discussed. Caught up with so many details, I didn’t think to ask those questions, and my doctors didn’t think to volunteer such answers. Perhaps someone tried, but I was too distracted to hear.

Chemo was next, which is when I started to think about yoga. (For six years prior to my diagnosis, my practice three times a week combined Iyengar, Ashtanga, and self-practice.) Up to this point, cancer had been a great teacher. Chemo drugs, of course, are poisons designed to kill cancer cells, and in the process they kill other fast-growing cells such as hair follicles. As everyone imagines, the chemotherapy procedure creates anxiety, but it also produces new fears such as about the damage to healthy cells and a further loss of personal control. Fear is not pleasant and feeling vulnerable is hard work. Anxiety causes muscles to tighten, palms to sweat, your mouth to get dry as blood pressure and respiration rates elevate. Was I breathing? No! Gone again, that critical supply of life-giving oxygen. That I was holding my breath was a pivotal realization in my recovery.

I learned to use two yoga tools, gifts really, to prepare myself for chemo: breathing and meditation. In the past, I had underestimated meditation. Now, it allowed me to rest my mind whenever I chose, especially in the chemo chair. I could monitor my thoughts so I could go to sleep at night. I felt in charge again. With breathing and meditation I was grow- ing emotionally stronger, giving myself a way to strike a bargain with my treatments. Breath counting did not work for me, but alternate nostril breathing did. I was in control, not the chemo.

L1080562In New York at that time I found only one class for survivors, most of whom were advanced Stage IV and the focus was restorative yoga. I also started to rebuild my former yoga practice—slowly and gently, of course, but with a different focus. What interested me was not so much what I could not do, but what I could do. I was surprised when I brought my attention to other parts of my body that were healthy, like my legs, which seemed eager, ready to move and stretch.

Chemo made me tired. had expected that and anticipated the cumulative effect as I became bone-weary. However, an active yoga practice helped. It gave back energy. At the same time, I was growing emotionally stronger. It seemed that yoga focused me on the path of being a healthy survivor. I became curious. How and why were these effects of yoga happening?

At each stage of recovery, I experienced something different in my body and I had to adapt my yoga practice to the changes. Many questions arose in me about the effects of cancer treatments. But I also had questions for yoga: How to use yoga to optimize my health and to feel comfort- able in the body I now had?

L1080864When chemo finished, I asked myself whether my yoga practice needed to be different. Usually, restorative yoga with guided meditation is recommended for cancer patients and survivors. Was this what I needed?

My hope was that yoga could be a way to reclaim life during and after my cancer treatments, to get me back to normal. Hope, though, was not a plan; yoga was. I placed great expectations on yoga to give me full range of motion lost in surgery, to manage my fears, to help me flush out chemotherapy toxins, and to strengthen my immune system to resist a recurrence.

I wanted to know: What poses would be most important? How can yoga be healing and why? What are poses to avoid? What are the specific benefits and modifications for specific cancers? What is the science behind yoga? How does it work on a cellular level?

I was not a yoga teacher fourteen years ago, so I asked my teachers:

  • Will downward-facing dog cause lymphedema?
  • Would Hot Yoga be a good way to flush my body of chemotherapy toxins?
  • When is it safe to start doing yoga after starting treatments?
  • If I have implants, could they rupture doing yoga?
  • Is it okay to practice yoga with axillary nerve damage?
  • Forward bends cause me pain. Am I doing something wrong?

In the fourteen years since my diagnosis, research has begun to show evidence of yoga benefits for those with cancer. Along with patient navigators,some oncologists now recommend yoga. However, there are still many skeptics in the medical field, and much research needs to be done to bring yoga into main- stream care.

I believe yoga as a wellness plan improves the odds against cancer, giving survivors the tools to fight more effectively during active treatment or in the years after. Yoga helped me cope emotionally and physically with chemo, radiation, and other treatment challenges. This is the prescription I envision yoga folk and health care professionals giving: “Here is your last prescription. Do yoga.”

Finally, in speaking to yoga teachers and therapists as well as healthcare professionals, my experience led me to develop these guidelines:

  • Be prepared with answers to the questions, anticipated and unanticipated, that will come about yoga and cancer.
  • Learn the facts about cancer. Know that true compassion flows from knowledge and facts, not just from the heart chakra.
  • Learn the benefits of yoga as exercise beyond a relaxation technique. Acknowledge your own fears about cancer.
  • Acknowledge your own fears about cancer.
  • Encourage the curiosity of your patients and students who want to know how yoga works and how to live with cancer.
  • Appreciate that your patients want your recommendation on how they can participate in their healing.
  • Be aware that the science of yoga and cancer is still in its infancy. Stay open to the limits of our understanding and the possibility of misunderstanding. Yoga, like cancer, has scientific as well as spiritual dimensions.

L1080469Yoga empowered me to be healthier and stronger than I ever was before cancer. It taught me how to live with the uncertainty of recurrence and with lifelong side effects, and it helped me create my mantra: “Cancer steals your breath. Yoga gives it back.” A life-threatening illness can help us all learn how to live fearlessly—if faced directly. Both cancer and yoga are great teachers.

Tari Prinster, a cancer survivor, yoga teacher, and author of Yoga for Cancer, developed the y4c methodology using contemporary research on cancer and yoga. Since 2003, Tari has trained more than a thousand yoga teachers and worked with thousands of survivors. 


1. Hitchens, C. (2010). The topic of cancer. Vanity Fair. Retrieved from http://www.vanityfair.com/ culture/2010/09/hitchens-201009

2. Prinster, T. (2014). Yoga for cancer: a guide to man- aging side effects, boosting immunity, and improving recovery for cancer survivors. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Benefit #10: Yoga Enhances Empowerment and Well-Being


by Tari Prinster. Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’. Buy your copy today!

Many have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition experienced by some soldiers returning from war, or by people suffering from a life-threatening accident. Cancer patients and survivors experience similar stress. We feel bombarded by frightening information, subjected to invasive procedures, and must endure cold clinics and blank stares.

Not everyone though manages stress with the same success, and a 2009 study by Costanzo, Ryff, and Singer developed and tested a concept that measures how we respond to post-traumatic stress growth, the positive flip side to suffering with stress.20 The researchers categorized the elements of surviving stressful events in three ways: survival with impairment, survival with resilience, and survival by thriving. Surviving with impairment, a survivor may blame her trauma on everything wrong with life. Surviving with resilience means she may recover from the trauma and live a serviceable life. Surviving by thriving though occurs when people make the traumatic event a pivotal point in life, changing their situation by making lemonade out lemons—ultimately thriving after cancer, for instance. The thriving survivor enjoys her blissful moments, which can lead to further change and the ability to find positive ways to manage stress.

L1080562About managing stress and cancer, Suzanne Danhauer of Wake Forest School of Medicine says, “Given the high levels of stress and distress that cancer patients experience, the opportunity to feel more peaceful and calm is a significant benefit.”21 She goes on to describe results of random trials studying the effects of yoga on emotions. Her research, conducted in 2009, found an increase of positive emotions such as calmness and a sense of purpose in over 50 percent of her subjects.

So, a growing body of research shows that yoga provides emotional benefits. Whether we use yoga to lose weight gained by taking medication, to detox our body following chemotherapy, or to regain the use of our arms, practicing yoga helps us feel better. As these benefits become more apparent, we experience increased well-being and, more importantly, feel more empowered than before. A positive spiral toward health results; as we continue to feel better, we make even better decisions about how to bring balance and ease to our lives.

L1080861Often, survivors with a yoga practice are surprised to find self-healing and empowerment in addition to their newfound well-being. Yoga empowers us to define life on our own terms. A solid practice can help reduce drug dependency or leave us feeling like we had a great massage. Ultimately, yoga helps us create a sense of balance between body and mind, the physical and the spiritual.

A final point: The first obstacle to exploring the great promises of a yoga practice is accepting that things are never going to be the same—and that is okay. Learning how to practice self-compassion is the most important benefit of all, what I call the bliss benefit.


Ask Tari: What’s the difference between a ‘traditional’ yoga teacher and a yoga teacher for a “cancer survivor?”

Question: What’s the difference between a ‘traditional’ yoga teacher and a yoga teacher for a “cancer survivor?”

At first glance, the idea of yoga for cancer patients undergoing treatment and now in survivorship seems an obvious, logical step. What better way is there to manage anxiety, gain strength, increase flexibility and create feelings of well-being?  It seems like everyone knows yoga is beneficial.  So, why would teaching yoga to cancer patients and survivors be any different than teaching yoga to healthy people?

The popular notion is that all yoga is beneficial, whatever its style or flavor.  But as yoga teachers, we know that is not true.  Just like cancer, yoga is not one-size-fits-all.  Everyone’s cancer, treatments, side effects and body are all different. Yoga teachers must be ready to adapt teaching styles to the changing needs of students.  The difference in teaching yoga to cancer survivors is that the risks are higher and a teacher should know what those risks are.

The answer can be found found in the words of BKS Iyengar, from his book, Light on Life:

“Do not imagine that you already understand and impose your imperfect understanding on those who come to you for help.”


Most yoga teachers are trained to teach to a diverse, yet general, population, but not to teach to the specific needs of the cancer survivor.  Most likely, their training did not cover the life-long side effects and vulnerabilities triggered by cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiation.

Yoga4Cancer ClassCompassion starts with a teacher’s willingness to learn about cancer, to be properly trained to teach yoga for cancer survivors, and to take the time to understand each student’s needs and concerns.  Knowing and understanding the conditions of the wounded body under that baggy t-shirt requires a yoga teacher training specialization.  This is the first step to creating safe healing conditions for those touched by cancer. 

Many teachers will have their personal fears about cancer. Conversely, many cancer survivors are not familiar with what they should expect from a yoga teacher when seeking a safe and practical class.  Yoga teachers should know to shift their pedagogy to meet the needs, often unexpressed, of their students.

Tari received the Yoga Journal ‘Seva Award’ in 2015

We are thrilled that Tari has been awarded the first ever SEVA Award by Yoga Journal for a Seva Award (Selfless Service) as part of their Good Karma Awards.  Tari is among 13 international nominated for this prestigious award and was selected in September 2015.

‘The Seva Award is a yogis who are doing seva or selfless work by bringing the healing practice of yoga to underserved people either in their own communities or around the world. In choosing the 13 Seva Award winners, they searched for yogis who have been volunteering consistently (week after week, month after month, year after year) for at least eight consecutive years; who are doing pioneering work with an underserved population; and who have made progress against serious odds in a difficult situation.’ We think Tari is a good fit.
Read more here


Benefit #9: Yoga Enhances Body Image


by Tari Prinster. Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’.  Buy your copy today!

People have images from news media and film of people practicing yoga. Perhaps we picture limber, lean, and youthful bodies in tights and tank tops sitting cross-legged or bent completely backwards like a human Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Celebrities and famous athletes do it. Everybody under thirty seems to be doing it. These young people might think they look like a model on the cover of Yoga Journal, and the serene look on their faces suggests that they’re not just in good physical shape, but their minds are in good shape too.

_MG_0854I believe yoga makes us feel good from the inside out. Yoga does not just help the body get strong, flexible, and detoxified. It helps our perception of the body and improves self-esteem. Cancer survivors, especially those who have survived breast cancer, have the same desire as everyone else: to look good! And yoga is for ordinary bodies. However, when baldness is not a fashion statement and makes us look sick, or when we feel weak, have gained twenty pounds from medical treatments, or have lost body parts, feeling good about how we look seems out of reach. Encouraging survivors to find a way to feel good about their appearance may sound unrealistic.

Rather than feel good, some survivors feel shame or embarrassment by their disfigurement. They say their body has betrayed them, as if blaming it helps explain a terrifying, mysterious disease. Survivors might also blame—falsely—their will, instead of their body, and think that they did not eat enough organic food, take enough vitamins and supplements, or use enough alternative therapies. Feelings of failure are not helpful and only add stress to life.

Here is what I have learned. Not only has the body not betrayed us, but by thinking this way we risk just such a betrayal. Research on stress and emotion suggests how a negative attitude towards oneself causes stress hormones to rise, thus increasing risk for cancer.18 Even though research progress is being made, we know less than we should about what causes cancer. Almost always, it is not possible to identify the exact causes for an individual cancer. Rather, the best we can do is to manage risk. What we do know, though, is that having positive thoughts cannot hurt us.19

So, a y4c yoga practice seeks to free the mind of negative thoughts and feelings about our bodies. Instead of looking into the mirror and making poor comparisons to magazine cover models, yoga teaches us how to turn the mirror around to find what is hidden on the inside. When we do something every day, even if it is a simple stretch, breathing exercise, or correcting our posture while walking down the street, we develop a healthier, more positive image of ourselves. This is how yoga starts to work and over time, will enhance your body image. By having a daily yoga practice, either alone or with others, survivors see what is good on the inside. A virtuous cycle of positive benefits results.

Sources:DSC_0086 1 copy

Pose of the Week: Dirty Tshirt

Excerpt from Yoga for Cancer, Tari Prinster’s latest book. Buy your copy today!


  • Range of motion in shoulders and arms
  • Chest and upper back stretch/strengthening
  • Lymphatic drainage in arms


Inhale: Lift arms to cactus.

Exhale: Fold left arm over right, giving yourself a hug.

Inhale: Begin to lift your elbows higher. As if taking off a T-shirt, slide your fingers up your arms as you reach your arms toward the ceiling. Expand your chest.

Exhale: Lower palms to thighs.

Repeat sequence, this time folding right arm over left to give yourself a hug. Then repeat the entire sequence six times, alternating which arm is on top.

Modifications: The action of removing the imaginary T-shirt may be difficult if you are recovering from surgery. Modify by skipping this movement and returning to Cactus Arms instead.

Dirty TShirt

Pose of the Month: Knee-Down Sun Salutation

A Sun Salutation is one of the most beautiful and effective yoga poses or sequences. It strengthens the whole body, improves balance, builds bone mass, stimulates the lymph system, and increases heart rate for cardiovascular health.  It is and should be the staple of most practices. However, for some cancer survivors, it can be daunting.

The yoga4cancer sun salutations modify the common practice to enable all survivors to achieve the benefits without the risk, concern or discomfort. Below details one of the many sun salutations featured in Tari’s Book  – Yoga for Cancer.

Knee Down Sun Salutation


  • Strengthens the whole body
  • Improves balance
  • Builds bone density
  • Stimulates the lymph system and encourages lymphatic drainage in arms
  • Increases heart rate for cardiovascular health.

Props needed: Two blocks, blanket (optional)

Place two blocks shoulder width apart on the highest level at the front of your mat. Stand tall between them. Line up your toes with the front edge of the blocks.

Inhale: Reach your arms out and up like swan wings.

Exhale: Bend your knees as if you’re going into Chair pose and lower your arms, bring your hands to the blocks. Keep your chest lifted.

Inhale: Step your right leg back into a lunge. Reach the crown of your head forward while reaching back through your right heel. Left knee should be directly above left ankle.

Exhale: Lower your right knee to the mat or a blanket, untucking your toes so the top of the foot rests on the floor.

Inhale: Lift your arms out and up, bringing your torso upright.

To complete the Sun Salutation, repeat each of these actions in reverse, following the illustrations from right to left.

Exhale: Lower hands to blocks.

Inhale: Tuck right toes under and lift your right knee.

Exhale: Step your right foot forward between the blocks, both knees bent, chest lifted.

Inhale: Straighten your legs, reaching your arms out and up like swan wings.

Exhale: Lower your arms. Return to stand tall position.

Repeat on the second side, stepping back with your left leg.

Modifications: For sensitive knees, set a folded blanket across the middle of your mat where your knees will land during the knee-down lunge. If range of motion in your arms is limited, lift your arms only to a comfortable height. If your hands do not reach the blocks as you bend your knees from a standing position, stack two blocks under each hand.

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The Holiday Detox

Thanksgiving Yoga

Too much turkey, too much pie, too many leftovers.. just too much…  and if you are anything like me, I feel ‘stuffed’ even thinking about it. So I make sure to increase my detoxifying yoga poses during the holiday season.  Because the great thing is whether you are detoxing from chemotherapy, getting rid of rogue cancer cells or just too much holiday food, these poses improve your bodies ability to digest, circulate and function. Also, these poses can improve the relaxation response which is much needed after a house full of family and friends.  So I wanted to share my Turkey Detox poses: Legs Up the Wall and Knee Up Seated Twist both featured in the detox sequence in my book – Yoga for Cancer.


Knee Up Seated Twist

Sit cross-legged with your right leg in front. Place your right foot on the floor, your right knee pointing up, thigh close to your belly. Hold your right shin firmly with both hands.

INHALE: Sit fully upright, chest broad, crown of your head lifted.

EXHALE: Twist your belly and chest to the right. Place your left hand on your right shin and right hand to the floor or a block behind you. Turn your head to look past your right shoulder.

INHALE: Sit taller and slowly turn your head to look past your left shoulder.

EXHALE: Slowly turn your head back into the twist, gazing past your right shoulder.

Repeat five times. Then repeat the sequence five times on the second side, twisting to the left.

Modifications: If your hips are tight it may be difficult to sit upright. Try sitting on a higher support and bending your lifted knee a little less deeply so the foot that is on the floor is further away from your hip. If you experience any neck pain, do not turn your head as far into the twist.

Benefits: Stimulates lymphatic system in hips and torso to aide detoxification, hip stretch, spine flexibility and releases neck tension.Knee Up Seated Twist


Legs Up the Wall

Props needed: Wall, two blankets, eye pillow (optional), bolster/cushion (optional), strap Legs up the wall(optional), additional blanket (optional)

Pull the short end of your yoga mat up to a wall. Place a folded blanket on either side of the middle of your mat.

Sit facing the long side of the mat with your left shoulder against the wall, knees bent. Using your right arm for support, lie down on your right side and as you roll onto your back, extend both legs up the wall. Keep your hips several inches away from the wall.

Rest your arms on the folded blankets in a cactus shape. Close your eyes. Rest for at least five minutes.

Modifications: If your neck feels strained, a folded blanket or low pillow under the head can offer additional support. If your hamstrings are tight, having your legs up the wall may feel like a stretch, and the back of your hips may not be flat to the floor. Move your hips further away from the wall until they rest fully on the mat. This will also release tension in the backs of the legs. Limited mobility in your shoulders or chest may require additional blankets under your cactus arms. Ensure that your hands, wrist, forearms, and elbows are all supported. As always, support both arms at the same height to maintain body symmetry. Optionally, put a bolster (with long end parallel to the wall) or cushion under your hips. A yoga strap can be belted around your thighs to hold your legs in place and allow the legs to more fully relax.

Benefits: Lymphatic drainage from legs; increases venous return from the lower body; activates the parasympathetic nervous system promoting physical relaxation, calm, and stress reduction. And feels glorious.


This is an excerpt from Tari’ book – Yoga for Cancer – on sale at major retails.


Click here to buy your copy today. 

Benefit #8: Yoga Helps Manage Fear and Anxiety


by Tari Prinster. Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’.  Pre-Order Today!

Fear is one of the most common and overwhelming reactions to those three little words, “You have cancer.” For most of us, if not all of us, it puts us into a tailspin of fear of pain, the impact on family, loss of income, and ultimately, death. As a cancer survivor adjusts to a life-threatening disease, an additional alarm system emerges: uncertainty. From that point on, every tweak, pain, or twitch, even old familiar ones, creates anxiety. Anxiety about what is and is not cancer becomes a new threat and constant companion. This undercurrent of anxiety and fear impact mood, fear and anxietycauses depression, and affects quality and length of sleep. These then impact our body’s natural systems to heal and restore, further weakening a survivor’s physical and psychological status. It’s a nasty downward spiral.

Yoga is well known for its powers of relaxation. Many are unaware of the physical benefits though they are easily understood and recognized in popular and modern culture. I want to provide some fact-based reasons for why yoga can help reduce anxiety and fear to essentially calm the nervous system.

The nervous system is complex network of trillions of cells and countless communication pathways throughout the body. Information is delivered to the brain in the form of sensations through sight, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and feeling. And the body responds to these sensations, or signals, with pleasure or discomfort and pain. Both responses are interpretations made by the brain to protect us from harm, maximize health, and enhance well-being. If we were in freezing weather and didn’t have a nervous system, we wouldn’t know how cold we were and wouldn’t protect ourselves with winter clothing, risking serious conditions like hypothermia. Without the nervous system, we would not know what is happening in the body, and it would be impossible to take care of ourselves. So an anxious nervous system not only impacts the way we emotionally feel but how our body functions and the power of our immune system.

Research about yoga’s positive impact on the nervous system, especially in reducing anxiety and fear, is plentiful. In 2013, a study conducted by the University of Calgary showed that practicing yoga led to improvements in mood, stress factors, and health-related quality of life (HRQL).15 Participants saw an improvement within the seven-week trial and then in three- and six-month follow-ups. Another study suggests that yoga can be more effective on mood than walking, which is a common recommendation for cancer patients and survivors. Yoga participants reported greater improvement in mood and a reduction in anxiety levels over the control group that only walked.16

y4c restorative poseAnxiety causes sleep disruption. It’s estimated that between 30 percent and 90 percent of cancer survivors have problems sleeping. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2013 reported that 90 percent of cancer survivors who participated in a yoga program saw improvement in their sleep; they had better sleep quality, less daytime sleepiness, better quality of life, and reduced use of medicines.17

Some psychological principles that help us are the relaxation response, the power of positive expectations, and pranayama, breath control using the practice of various breathing techniques. The latter is a key technique for inducing relaxation in the body This is the science behind yoga that invites you to enjoy safe and relaxing positions, respect your body, settle the monkey mind, work past the normal distractions of daily life, better manage fears and anxiety, and help you make time for healing.



Five Ways That Yoga Helps Prevent Cancer


By Tari Prinster. Originally posted to Kripalu Thrive Blog on October 23, 2014.

“You have cancer.” About half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States will hear those words in their lifetime. That’s 40 percent of us. We each hope it’s not us. But hope is not a plan. And if you’ve heard those three little words, as I did, your life changes forever. But blaming yourself, retreating from life, and hoping for no recurrence, is also not a plan. Adding yoga to your daily routine—that’s a plan. And an effective one!

An increasing body of research shows that yoga can help prevent cancer, and help cancer patients and survivors manage risk and side effects after treatment. As a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2000, I have felt the impact in my own body after many surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Yoga brings balance and alignment to all body parts and systems: muscles, bones, organs, and the mind. It’s a holistic path to wellness that focuses on interconnection.

Here are five reasons why yoga should be in everyone’s cancer-prevention and/or cancer-recovery plan.

Yoga strengthens the immune system. The goal of strengthening the immune system is to keep all of the body’s systems working together. It takes a village: Failure of any one system threatens the health of the whole community. Cancer therapies that seek to strengthen the immune system are increasingly proving to be helpfulin fighting a wide variety of cancers.

Research shows that yoga boosts immunity. A 2013 study in Norway found that regular practice of gentle yoga and meditation had a rapid effect at the genetic level in circulating cancer-fighting immune cells. Mindfulness meditation also appears to change the brain and immune function in positive ways.

Yoga detoxifies the body. Detoxification is the vital metabolic process by which dead cells and toxins (the flu virus, a rogue cancer cell, or another pathogen) are excreted from the body. Yoga is the muscle of the lymphatic system—the body’s plumbing and trash-removal system. Similar to how the heart muscle circulates blood, yoga increases lymphatic flow with specific breathing and movement practices. Inversions, a fundamental part of a strong yoga practice, utilize movement and body positioning to reverse the effects of gravity on our body, enhancing the process of cardiovascular and lymphatic drainage.

Another way in which yoga detoxifies the body is through compression. B. K. S. Iyengar called it the “squeeze and soak” process, which cleans internal organs in the same way that a sponge discharges dirty water when squeezed. For example, abdominal twists activate internal organs and guide the release of toxins into the lymphatic system.

Yoga detoxifies the mind as well. A survivor lives with the fear of cancer returning, and this daily anxiety is a mental toxin. We can detoxify the mind by using the movement of the breath, by relaxing into gravity in a restorative pose, and by quietly watching our thoughts in meditation.

Yoga builds bones. How are strong bones linked to cancer prevention? Our bones house bone marrow, where new red and white blood cells are constantly being produced. White blood cells are needed to form leukocytes, our natural cancer-fighting immune cells. If our bones are compromised from a break or from osteoporosis (a side effect of chemotherapy), so too is the production of a nourishing blood supply and immune protection.

A recent pilot study by Kripalu presenter Loren Fishman, MD, applied yoga practice to sufferers of osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass) and osteopenia (reduction in bone volume). The results showed that 85 percent of the yoga practitioners gained bone in both the spine and hip, while nearly every member of the control group maintained or lost bone mass. I believe yoga is safer for strong bone building than many gym routines, because it puts weight on the bones in a precise, deliberate way.

Yoga reduces stress. Cancer patients and survivors experience stress similar to that endured by military veterans. They are bombarded by frightening information, subjected to invasive procedures, and must endure cold clinics and blank stares.

A 2009 study of cancer survivors developed and tested a concept that measures how we respond to “post-traumatic stress growth,” the positive flip side to suffering with stress. This growth occurs when people make the traumatic event a pivotal point in their life, changing their situation by making lemonade out lemons—ultimately thriving after cancer, for instance. The thriving survivor enjoys her blissful moments, which can lead to further change and the ability to find positive ways to manage stress.

Yoga can enhance that positivity. The results of a 2009 study on the effects of yoga on emotions found an increase in positive emotions such as calmness and a sense of purpose in more than 50 percent of subjects. Women participating in a 10-week program of restorative yoga classes gained positive differences in aspects of mental health such as depression, positive emotions, and spirituality (feeling calm and peaceful), as compared to the control group.

Yoga is weight management. Obesity is a key, if not the largest, indicator of both cancer incidence and recurrence. In the United States, excess body weight is thought to contribute to as many as one out of five cancer-related deaths, and being overweight or obese is clearly linked with an increased risk of several types of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that obese individuals increase weekly exercise to 300 minutes per week to reduce the chances of cancer or recurrence.

Research on the impact of yoga on weight gain is still in the early stages. One study showed that yoga had a more positive impact on obesity and depression than aerobic exercise. While yoga for cancer survivors often focuses on gentle or restorative yoga methods (which are necessary and beneficial approaches), it can and should be active, and therefore calorie burning—while also being safe, physically accessible, welcoming, and inclusive. Yoga can help cancer survivors manage weight gain, which improves self-esteem and the ability to function normally, and ultimately reduces the risk of recurrence and mortality.

The benefits of yoga for cancer prevention are profound and well substantiated. For yoga teachers who work with cancer survivors and those in treatment, having specific knowledge about the benefits and modifications for this community is imperative. Teachers must understand the limitations and requirements in order to support this community to practice effectively and safely.

Tari Prinster, a cancer survivor, master yoga teacher, and author of Yoga for Cancer, developed Yoga4Cancer (y4c)methodology using contemporary research on cancer and yoga. Tari has trained more than a thousand yoga teachers and worked with thousands of survivors in her weekly classes and retreats. She is the founder and president of the Retreat Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to help underserved cancer survivors through yoga.


  • http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/questions-people-ask-about-cancer
  • http://www.sciatica.org/downloads/YogaOsteoporosis_PilotStudy.pdf
  • http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0061910
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883106
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573546/
  • http://www.cancer.org/healthy/eathealthygetactive/acsguidelinesonnutritionphysicalactivityforcancerprevention/acs-guidelines-on-nutrition-and-physical-activity-for-cancer-prevention-guidelines

y4c & Making Strides on Sunday Oct 19th!


The yoga4cancer team is proud to be part of the 2014 Making Strides in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Tari and Jennifer Brilliant will be hosting warm up yoga sessions for all the participants before their walk.  The event has already raised over $1M to help survivors. Plus, the event itself helps get participating survivors moving and achieving their 150 minutes of exercise per week (ACS recommendation).  So we are thrilled to help them achieve their goal!

All the participants will be provided information about y4c classes in NYC so they can join our growing community. Please join me in welcoming them!

To sign up, donate, volunteer or just learn more, please visit Making Strides.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.28.40 AM

Benefit #7: Yoga Helps Manage Pain


by Tari Prinster. Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’.  Pre-Order Today!

Dorothy is a tall, attractive Polish woman who is fifty-four years old. She had a double mastectomy when she was fifty-two, which was then followed by eight months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She tests positive for BRAC 1, the breast cancer gene. Her mother died of breast cancer at age forty-seven. Dorothy expressed concern to me before a recent yoga class about a new pain she was experiencing in her shoulder blades. As if whispering a secret, she asked me if it could be cancer. I was not surprised by her question, but asked her if she felt any pain when two years earlier she detected her breast cancer. “No,” she said, “Only a lump. . . . ”

It is not easy to listen to the body. We get so many aches and pains before, during, and after cancer. Most are not caused by cancer, but that is the fear. As survivors we are hyper-alert to new body sensations and naturally, we worry. The nervous system is a tricky alarm system sending signals that are sometimes confusing, false, or, as was the case with Dorothy, misunderstood.

Tari with Student in supported Childs PoseUntil advanced stages, most cancers do not cause pain. Rather, the treatment and their side effects can cause pain, not the cancer itself. Acknowledging this fact and then applying curiosity mixed with practical information help us manage our pain as well as our fears. In my conversations with Dorothy later on, she realized that the pain she was feeling, although real, was not due to cancer. Rather, it was a strained back muscle! During class, we did many poses and patterned movements that gave her relief and insights into how she was using her shoulder and arm.

But a yoga practice can reduce pain. Studies have concluded that yoga can help reduce pain for both non-cancer and cancer populations.14 Simple breathing exercises can ‘quiet the mind’ and provide respite from the sensations of pain.  Restorative poses – included in the active y4c method – enables the body to relax, heal and improves sleep.  Additionally,  the y4c methodology modifies traditional yoga poses so that individuals can practice with less pain and ease. There are ways to help you manage body sensations and to modify poses according to your body’s needs and the changing circumstances of your recovery on a daily basis.

An example of a pose that can be pain relieving but requires modification for SOME survivors is Childs Pose.  Read here for an explanation of how to modify this pose to enable the end benefit of relaxation and relief from pain, anxiety and stress.

Read the other Yoga Benefits here.  

  • Buffart et al., “Physical and Psychosocial Benefits of Yoga in Cancer Patients and Survivors, a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” 
  • Pink is making me go Red!


    Enough’s enough. As my husband watched the NFL yesterday, I became RED from pink-washing. A blatant profiteering from our basic human fear and spreading of false information.

    Here’s why: Breast Cancer Month dates back to 1985 and a partnership with American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Company – largest producer of mammogram machines and anti-breast cancer drugs. Interesting, how a government agency and for-profit industry have captured our attention, energy, and compassion, MONEY and painting a whole month the color pink. Their core message is that early detection through mammograms saves lives. And honestly, once, I was on the pink wagon (despite hating the color).

    But that was 1985. Cancer research and science has moved on since then, why can’t we?  My own personal experience – having two mammograms that failed to detect my palpable fast growing tumor – and similar experiences of many of my students. But most importantly the huge volume of research indicating that mammograms do not – statistically – save lives. And, actually, the research indicates that 22% women are over diagnosed and undergo unnecessary treatment that face life time of side effects.  Additional this fear mongering increase use of other diagnostic tools like X-rays and CT scans that is well known to be environmental cause of breast cancer.  Not to mention the stress!

    Pinkwashing_2501Worse these businesses make loads of money and give very little of the proceeds to the actual cause.  For example, the NFL Crucial Catch campaign has turned American’s fall pastime pink through promotions, merchandise, partnerships, and events. It raises millions around the message of breast cancer awareness and early detection through mammograms. And only 8% of the profits of this pink flood goes to cancer research. Yes… 8%.

    Don’t get me wrong, I support many great causes this October both personally and professionally (well… maybe not the NFL) and especially those that get people moving as exercise is the #1 tool to prevent and recover from cancer. For example, I will be leading a y4c class in the Making Strides event in Central Park. The Cancer to 5K team is actively coming to our free classes.  And heck, we run our own non-profit where no one earns a salary and all the donations go to help run a program that directly help survivors gain strength, balance and sense of well being.  So my advice is not for you to STOP partaking in the pink flood but use your C-words in vetting those that we participate, purchase, partake…

    • Caution for how and what our money is being collected for.
    • Curiosity about the messages and facts behind the causes.
    • So ultimately our Compassion is accurately directed to the causes that truly help survivors and non-survivors.

    Here are some great articles and movements for you to learn more!

    1. Sign the Breast Cancer Action petition – ‘Think Before You Pink!’
    2. Top 10 Tips of Prevention.  Great tips to remove toxins from your life!
    3. Learn more about the NFL Crucial Catch hypocrisy.  Great article! Love
    4. British Journal of Medicine 15 year comprehensive finding on Mammograms. Key message: Annual screening doesn’t improve mortality and 22 percent of breast cancers diagnosed by a screening mammogram were over diagnosis. Causing unnecessary treatment treatments long-lasting side-effects.

    Lets join together and help these well intentioned (lets pretend the bottom dollar isn’t the key motivator) business, brands and people from spreading this harmful mis-understanding. Focus them on what is really needed.  Prevention, Eduction and Care.

    Give Today! If you are lost at where to give and support, a quick plug for our non-profit.  Again, 100% of the proceeds go to helping survivors (all survivors) live longer, healthier and happier lives through yoga and other wellness programs. Today we offer several classes per week in NYC, with your help, we could go further.  Give today!


    Yoga Pose: Warrior One


    Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’ by Tari Prinster.  Now on Sale. 


    • Strengthens the whole body
    • Improves balance
    • Builds bone mass
    • Stimulates the lymphatic system – explicitly lymphatic drainage in arms
    • Increases heart rate for cardiovascular health and weight loss

    Props needed: Two – Four blocks, depending on flexibility.

    Standing TallPlace two blocks shoulder width apart on the highest level at the front of your mat. Stand tall between them. Line up your toes with the front edge of the blocks.

    INHALE: Reach your arms out and up like swan wings.

    EXHALE: Bend your knees as if going into Chair pose and bring your hands onto the blocks. Keep your chest lifted.

    INHALE: Step your right leg back into a lunge. Look forward while reaching back through your right heel. Left knee should be directly above left ankle.

    EXHALE: Bring your right heel down to the mat, placing your foot at an angle so your toes point toward your right hand.Supported Lunge

    INHALE: Lift your torso to an upright position, placing both hands on your left thigh.

    EXHALE: Draw your belly back toward your spine.

    INHALE: If you feel steady and have the core support to stay balanced here, then reach your arms forward and up.

    Hold Warrior One for three complete breaths.

    EXHALE: Lower hands to blocks.

    Supported lunge with teacherINHALE: Lift your right heel away from the floor and turn your foot so the toes face forward and heel points to the back of your mat.

    EXHALE: Step your right foot forward between the blocks, both knees bent, chest lifted.

    INHALE: Straighten your legs, reaching your arms out and up like swan wings.

    EXHALE: Lower your arms. Return to stand tall position.

    Repeat on the second side, stepping back with the left leg.

    Modifications: If range of motion in your arms is limited, lift your arms only to a comfortable height. If your hands do not reach the blocks as you bend your knees from a standing position, stack two blocks under each hand.

    yoga4cancer - Warrior One


    Benefit #6: Yoga Helps Manage Weight Gain


    by Tari Prinster. Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’.  Pre-Order Today!

    When people think of cancer patients, they imagine skinny, fragile bodies. And yes, this is often the case during active treatment, prolonged treatment, or late stages of cancer. But for many people, weight gain is a common side effect of cancer treatment. Weight gain has significant impact on both physical and psychological aspects of a survivor’s life. And a great concern of weight gain is increased chances of reoccurrence.

    Obesity is a key indicator of both cancer incidence and recurrence. The American Cancer Society recommends that obese individuals increase the standard weekly exercise from 150 minutes to 300 minutes per week to reduce the chances of cancer or recurrence.12 Thus managing one’s weight should be a focus of any cancer patient or survivor (and everyone in general).

    Yoga provides a safe, gentle way to manage weight. Research on the impact of yoga on weight gain is still in early stages. One study showed that yoga had a more positive impact on obesity (and depression) than aerobic exercise.13

    Yoga4Cancer Class

    But not all yoga is the same. And I would not argue that all styles will help you manage weight gain. Often, yoga for cancer survivors is focused on gentle or restorative yoga methods, which are necessary and beneficial approaches. But they are not an active yoga practice. Many yoga teachers are afraid to make cancer patients and survivors move and be active in class.

    It is a mistake to coddle survivors, treating them as sick. I remember this from my own days of attending a yoga class with my bald head and the teacher encouraging me to lie in restorative poses and not participate in the active yoga class. I felt isolated, ashamed, and annoyed. Worse, if I had listened to my teacher, I would not have benefited fully from the active yoga practice. Therefore, including an active practice is the foundation of y4c methodology.

    Tari Demonstrating Glam GalYoga for cancer survivors can be active, therefore calorie burning; and it can be safe, physically accessible, welcoming, and inclusive. Yoga can help cancer survivors manage weight gain, which improves self-esteem and the ability to function normally, and ultimately reduces the risk of recurrence.


    Yoga Benefit #5: Yoga Strengthens the Immune System


    by Tari Prinster. Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’.  Pre-Order Today!

    Many people make the claim that if you practice yoga, you will strengthen the immune system. Often these claims are not substantiated by knowledge of what the immune system is and how it works. Let’s explore the ways in which cancer and treatments for cancer impair the immune system and how yoga practice bolsters it.

    Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 7.26.51 PM

    The immune system is not a single, tangible part of the body like the lungs, heart, brain, or stomach. In one sense, the immune system includes all of the body’s parts and systems, being the interaction and union of all these systems (enclosed image is how I depict the immune system for myself and for my yoga teacher trainers). The goal of strengthening the immune system is to keep all the systems working together like working families in a large, healthy village. The failure of any one system threatens the health of the whole community—for example, if our bones are compromised from a break or osteoporosis (a side effect of chemotherapy) we will not be able produce new nourishing blood supply to feed our reproducing cells in other systems. Additionally,  the immune system is constantly on the lookout for a new or returning cancer cell.

    Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can compromise the immune system’s efficiency because they disrupt the development and balance of all cells, therefore stressing the body’s systems and increasing the risk of infection or other diseases. Specifically, treatments reduce white cells in the blood that are needed to form leukocytes, a natural immune protection. This is why it is so critical for active cancer patients to keep on “immune system alert.” Because yoga’s goal is to strengthen all body systems, the end product is an improved immune system.


    On a molecular level, we find further support that yoga boosts the immune system. Recent research has found that yoga causes an improvement in gene expression within lymphocytes, which are our cancer-fighting cells, often referred to as immune cells, that are being produced in our body all the time. Gene expression “is the process by which information from a gene is used to make a functional gene product,” which in this case is to aid lymphocyte production. In this science-based way yoga boosts our natural defense against cancer. Every y4c yoga movement, position, or patterned breathing technique has one goal: to strengthen the immune system!



    Child’s Pose: Why we don’t do it?

    AHHH…. Child’s Pose.  The ‘resting’ pose of yoga. The needed break from downward dog or a ‘chaturanga’. The pose of comfort and relaxation… for some of us.  But not for all.

    In my yoga4cancer (y4c) classes or in my yoga teacher trainings, I don’t suggest Child’s Pose for resting because for many survivors this pose is actually not comfortable and can even be harmful. I know this might be surprising to some so let me explain:

    • First, it requires a level of flexibility in the spine, hamstrings and feet, which cancer patients and survivors lack due to inexperience and / or return to exercise.
    • Second, it puts pressure on the lower vertebrae that can be compromised due to chemotherapy & other treatments that weaken bones or osteoporosis.
    • Third, cancer survivors can have sensitivity in the abdomen due to scar tissue, surgical sites, or even existing painful tumors.
    • Finally, having the head below the heart restricts breath (to some extent) can feel claustrophobic, which is a particular point of sensitivity for cancer patients who may have often been required to hold breath and stillness in small spaces (MRI machine) for long periods of time during treatments or diagnostic tests.

    For all these reasons, Child’s Pose is not necessarily relaxing or comforting, which defeats its purpose entirely. Of course, for some survivors, this pose is wonderfully relaxing and helpful. It’s just important for both yoga teachers AND the students to understand the potential challenges and modifications that can be done to make it comfortable for all.

    y4c Modification to Child’s Pose:  Modify child’s pose by placing a blanket under the knees and a rolled blanket under the tops of the feet. Once that is set up, place a block between the thighs, with one or more blankets or a bolster on top of that block and across the thighs. Construct a support for the chest and the head using blocks and blankets so the bend is less extreme and the head remains at the same level as the heart. Place a clean towel on the head support.

    y4c Modified Child's Pose

    Ask Tari: Are your yoga classes for women only?


    Recently, I was asked if our yoga4cancer classes in New York City are women only. ‘Good question!’ I responded, and ‘Thanks for asking.’ This gives me the opportunity to clarify my approach and my working policy for our classes.

    First, a little history is needed.  In 2003, I started a yoga class for women breast cancer survivors at OMyoga under the sponsorship of a foundation whose mission was to support women only programs.  Within the first few years, we extended the program to help women beyond  those suffering from breast cancer.  For many years the classes continued under the title: OMyoga for Women Cancer Survivors, WCS. Two years ago when OMyoga closed the doors of its studio in Manhattan, I knew our yoga classes must continue but in a new form.  This was the birth of yoga4cancer.

    In setting the foundation for yoga4cancer, I knew I wanted to help as many survivors as possible – no matter race, gender, creed or background.  Cancer doesn’t distinguish, why should we?! It seemed appropriate to offer them to all cancer patients and survivors. Plus in the 10 years since the inception of the program, more men were interested in learning & participating in our classes and in yoga in general. Many men had become teachers within the y4c family and using our principles everyday to heal. So I didn’t want to exclude any type of cancer or person it effects.  Cancer is not gender specific and yoga is beneficial to all, male or female.  Our instructors and classes are capable of helping anyone no matter the type of stage or type of cancer – male or female.

    That being said, like most yoga classes, whatever style or specialty, the number of women usually outnumbers the number of men participating.  So it often appears as if only women attend y4c classes. But in fact, we welcome all cancer survivors of both genders and all races to y4c classes. Spread the word.  Bring your male friends to class!

    Your Invitation to Cancer to 5K!


    yoga4cancer and The Retreat Project are proud to announce their partnership with Cancer to 5K part of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Sign up for FREE before August 16th!

    Shanette Caywood

    The Cancer to 5K training program is launching in New York City on Saturday, August 16! Cancer to 5K is a FREE, 12-week, run/walk program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to being active. There is no fundraising commitment for participants or for volunteers, and participation is open to survivors regardless of age, treatment status, or fitness level.

    Team workouts will take place on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings in Manhattan, and the team’s goal race will take place on Saturday, November 1.

    Find out more and register to participate today at www.cancerto5k.org, or contact Program Manager Laura Scruggs at laura@ulmanfund.org / 410.964.0202 x108.

    y4c Community Classes will be part of the training program as well.  Participants will have the opportunity to join our classes to help on their journey to the 5K challenge.We look forward to welcoming them to our community.

    Sign Up Today!



    Yoga Pose: Cactus Clap & Dirty T-Shirt

    Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’.  Pre-Order at Amazon.


    • Range of motion in shoulders and arms
    • Chest and upper back stretch/strengthening
    • Lymphatic drainage in arms

    Cactus Clap:

    Seated in a comfortable position on the ground with bolsters, blocks or blankets.  Or in a chair.

    Sit upright with palms on your thighs.Veronica - Cactus Clap

    INHALE: Lift your arms to shoulder height, bending your elbows to make a cactus shape, with palms facing forward.

    EXHALE: Bring your palms and forearms together in front of your face.

    INHALE: Reopen your arms to cactus.

    Repeat the last two steps three times. Move slowly, following your breath. Then lower your arms and rest your palms on your thighs.

    Modifications: Forearms and palms may not come all the way together. Bring them as close as is comfortable.

    CactusClap Illustration

    Dirty T-Shirt

    INHALE: Lift arms to cactus.

    EXHALE: Fold left arm over right, giving yourself a hug.

    INHALE: Begin to lift your elbows higher. As if taking off a T-shirt, slide your fingers up your arms as you reach your arms toward the ceiling. Expand your chest.

    EXHALE: Lower palms to thighs.

    Repeat sequence, this time folding right arm over left to give yourself a hug. Then repeat the entire sequence six times, alternating which arm is on top.

    Modifications: The action of removing the imaginary T-shirt may be difficult if you are recovering from surgery. Modify by skipping this movement and returning to cactus arms instead.

    DirtyTshirt Illustration

    Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’.  Pre-Order at Amazon.


    Yoga Pose: Warrior Three at the Wall


    • Strengthens the whole body including core, legs, hips, shoulders, arms and back muscles
    • Builds bone mass
    • Increases heart rate for cardiovascular health and weight maintenance
    • Stimulates the lymph system
    • Increases leg flexibility

    Props needed: Wall, table or stable chair with a high back

    Begin in Down Dog at the Wall (optionally, rest your hands on a chair back or table instead of the wall).

    INHALE: Slightly bend your left knee. Lift your straight right leg up and back, maintaining a neutral spine.

    EXHALE: Press your left foot into the floor and straighten your left leg. Engage your abdominal muscles to support your spine. Reach the crown of your head toward the wall while reaching back with your right heel, toes flexed downward. Notice if one hip is lifting higher than the other, and try to make the hips even.

    Hold for three breaths.

    As you INHALE lengthen from the crown of your head to your lifted heel.

    As you EXHALE root down through your standing foot.

    To release from the pose, bring your hands back to the wall. Lower your right foot to the floor and walk toward the wall to come up to stand. Repeat on the second side, reaching the left leg back.

    Modifications: The lifted leg does not have to be at hip height. Lift it as high as you are able (never above hip height) while keeping it straight.

    Warrior Three at the Wall

    Feeling strong? Want a challenge? Try the below variation!

    INHALE: Reach your left arm straight back alongside your left hip, palm facing hip.

    EXHALE: Reach your right arm back alongside your right hip. Now you are balancing in Warrior Three without touching the wall.

    Warrior 3


    Excerpt from ‘Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors’.  Pre-Order at Amazon.


    Yoga Pose: Cat and Cow


    • Spine and hip mobility
    • Arm strengthening
    • Detoxes by stimulating lymph system in arms and torso
    • Releases tension in lower back, upper back & neck.

    Step 1: To Set Yourself Up on Hands and Knees

    Place your hands directly under your shoulders, spreading your fingers and feeling your whole palm connected to the floor. Place your knees slightly apart, under your hips. If your knees are uncomfortable on the floor, put a folded blanket under both knees. Rest the tops of your feet (toe-nail side down) on the floor. Find a neutral spine position, neither sagging your belly toward the floor or mounding your back toward the ceiling, but “flat” back like a table. Your neck and head position are a continuation of your neutral spine. Reach the crown of your head forward, keeping your gaze on the floor.

    Cat and Cow

    Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.03.55 AMINHALE: Arch your spine by lifting your tail toward the ceiling and dipping your belly toward the floor. Broaden your chest, reaching it forward through your upper arms. Extend the crown of your head forward and slightly up, keeping the back of your neck long. Imagine you are a sway-backed cow.

    EXHALE: Press your hands and shins into the floor and round your spine by curling your tailbone down and lifting the middle of your back toward the ceiling. Drop your head toward the floor, relaxing your neck completely. Imagine you’re a hissing, Halloween cat.

    REPEAT for ten breaths.

    Modifications: If you feel tightness or a painful twinge in your back, make these movements even slower and more subtle, arching and rounding your spine to the degree you can, without causing discomfort. Over time your spine will become more flexible.

    _MG_0345 _MG_0347

    y4c Teacher of the Month: Katy Keys


    bc yoga (1)

    Q: What was your original inspiration for teaching yoga?

    A: As a therapeutic massage therapist for many years, my own yoga practice began to deepen, and I realized that I could use this knowledge to help my clients.  I was already seeing cancer survivors on my massage table, so it made sense that yoga could help people feel more at home in their own bodies.

    Q: What was your inspiration to teach cancer survivors specifically?

    A: This seemed like a natural extension of what I was already doing.  I could see that many new survivors were looking for ways to reclaim their sense of power and balance.  Yoga teaches all of us new things about ourselves and the world we live in.

    Q: What have you enjoyed most about working with this population?

    A:  I love teaching absolute beginners about yoga; especially the breathing practices.  With cancer survivors, there are many ah-ha moments, and they are priceless!  The thing I enjoy the most is seeing them grow in their practice as they become more confident and settle into their own strength.  The seasoned students begin to take the new ones under their wings, and help them feel more at ease.  To be honest, I think I am learning more from them than they are from me!

    Q: When/Where do you teach classes?

    A:  I am fortunate to be teaching at Fitness One at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia.  The fitness center and oncology department work together to get the word out to potential students, who can attend the classes for free.  They are held weekly on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm and Thursdays at 12:45 pm.

     Q:  What did you find to be the most useful element of y4c training?

    A:  My training with Tari was so helpful in bringing everything together for teaching survivor students.  The most eye-opening aspect of the training was the experiential practice where each of us used props in order to reduce our strength or range of motion, or to mimic the effects of lymphedema.  It made me even more compassionate toward those who are struggling with this.

    Q: How do you incorporate your own teaching elements in y4c style classes?

    A:  As a massage therapist, I am a natural nurturer, in that I practice ways to support and encourage the student without causing pain or discomfort.  We focus on alignment and breathing, and I invite them to challenge themselves safely.

    Q:  Has teaching yoga to cancer survivors surprised you in any unexpected ways?

    A:  My students are such an inspiration to me, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with them.  I have learned to be more patient and compassionate with myself as well as with others.

    Q:  What is your favorite asana?

    A:  My favorite asana is Ardha Chandrasana (Half-Moon Pose) because I feel like I am flying!  I teach this pose with modifications using a chair for students who are unable to reach the floor with their hands.


    Teacher of the Month: Lorien Neargarder

    Lorien Neargarder
    Q: What originally inspired you to be a yoga teacher?
    Yoga really helped me improve my quality of life. My practice offered me tools to manage my chronic pain and identify unhealthy thinking patterns. I wanted to show people that there are other ways to live, ways that minimize suffering.
    Q: What inspired you to teach yoga for cancer survivors?
    My experience with cancer actually began long before my experience with yoga. Over 20 years ago, I lost my grandmother to cancer. She was very special to me, but not an easy person to love. I watched as her support system disintegrated as she grew weaker, and I thought that there must be a better way to be with cancer. I didn’t originally think to work with people with cancer when I started teaching yoga, but I was drawn to the therapeutic side of yoga. This led me to work privately with people. Right from the beginning, cancer showed up: between the time that we scheduled the appointments and seeing them, several of my long-term students received a cancer diagnosis. I worked with these people one-on-one and realized how much it help them. That was 4 years ago and I haven’t stopped!
    Q: What have you enjoyed most about working with this population?
    They laugh at my stupid jokes… No, actually, the people that come into my classes who are dealing with cancer have very few ego issues. They are so open and willing. “What have I got to lose?” is such a liberating attitude to work with! And yes, they do laugh quite easily.
    Q: When and where do you teach classes for cancer survivors?
    Tuesdays noon-12:45 at Breathe Los Gatos
    Wednesdays 10:00-11:00am at Kaiser Santa Clara
    Wednesdays 1:30-2:45pm at Samyama Yoga Center (for Stanford)
    Wednesdays 6:00-7:00pm at Cancer CAREpoint
    Thursdays 1:30-2:45pm at Samyama Yoga Center (for Stanford)
    Q: What was the most useful element of y4c training for you?
    The first workshop I took with Tari taught me how to say the word “cancer” out loud without fear or judgement, and the second training I took with Tari taught me how to feel the limitations of some of my students through the experience of taping and padding my body and then practicing a yoga class. Both changed the way I was teaching!
    Q: How do you bring your own teaching elements into the y4c classroom?
    I incorporate many pauses and check-ins throughout the practice, because I want people with cancer to develop their “inner” listening skills, which can be used in situations off the mat as well. I love using analogies – especially if they incorporate animals – to teach the actions of the body. It usually brings a smile to their faces and a twinkle in their eyes.
    Q: Has y4c training/teaching impacted you in any unexpected ways?
    Yes! I found an ally in what I knew to be true: that people with cancer need movement – even subtle movement, and that empowering the students when they feel at their most powerless is important. Since I don’t have a cancer experience of my own, I doubted these ideas until I heard Tari explain them.
    Q: What is your favorite asana and why?
    I love pigeon pose – sometimes called swan pose. It’s the pose that started it all for me! My chronic back pain was reduced so dramatically after my very first yoga class, and it had to do with practicing this pose. For the past 15 years, I have tried to find some way to do this pose every day, or else my back reminds me!

    Teacher of the Month: Cindy Carver

    cin pic blue

    What originally inspired you to be a yoga teacher?

    When my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer I’d been practicing yoga for a few years. Teaching yoga was not in my plans. I traveled back and forth between New York, Minneapolis and Utah to be with her during surgeries and chemotherapy. I found wonderful teachers wherever I practiced and yoga gave me the energy and strength to survive the challenges of juggling caregiving, work, and family. My mom wanted to practice yoga, too and we searched for classes that would address the side effects she experienced from her treatments and the pain and anxiety that she was feeling but this was fifteen years ago and we did not find a class, video, or book that she found helpful. A month after mom died I began a yoga certification program and began teaching the next year. So it was my mom and her experience with cancer that inspired me to teach yoga, as well as the creative, intelligent and compassionate teachers I met who supported and inspired me during this difficult time. Two years after my mom died I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I started exploring how yoga could help me recover as soon as I woke up after surgery. As I lay in my hospital bed I began gentle breathing and moving my hands and feet with my breath, then my arms and shoulders. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was moving lymph! I was on chemo for four months and experimented on myself ways to use yoga to heal and reduce painful side effects as I continued to teach.

    My experience with cancer, my mom’s and my own- convinced me that I could help reduce the pain and distress of surgeries and cancer treatments and I began to offer one on one yoga sessions. I see the people I work with respond in hugely different ways, but my commitment in teaching yoga is to offer what my mom wanted but could not find: a practice that addresses the side effects and discomfort of cancer treatments and offers a different kind of healing than traditional medicine.

    What inspired you to teach yoga for cancer survivors?

    Tari’s training.  Before I completed the Y4C training I did not want to teach classes for people who have cancer. My private practice was thriving and I didn’t know how I would bring the skills that I had developed over ten years of teaching one-on-one to a classroom situation. After the training it clicked.

    I understood how to structure a class and how to modify poses. I learned about breast reconstruction and many things about the science of cancer that I did not know before taking the Y4C training. I contacted the owners of Indian Rock Yoga in Suffern, NY and asked if they were still interested in offering classes for survivors and Cindy, Pauline, and Laura said, “Absolutely!” and we are offering classes beginning in January.

    What have you enjoyed most about working with the y4c New York students?

    I am struck by their intelligence, commitment, and kindness. We come together from different backgrounds, we have vastly different cares and concerns, and for and hour and a half we put our differences aside and share the same space. No matter how they may feel-grumpy, cheerful, anxious or just relieved to be in class-there is an atmosphere of respect and openness that inspires me.

    How do you bring your own teaching elements into the classroom?

    Ten years of teaching restorative yoga has enriched my teaching and my life in so many ways. Judith Lasater taught me how to build a pose so that it meets the needs of each person comfortably and effectively. I have learned that skillful sequencing can be the difference between a yoga class that is “good enough” and one that has the potential to heal. Being with my mom throughout her surgeries and cancer treatments and then going through the same surgery and chemotherapy myself taught me that until I walk in somebody else’s shoes I can’t truly understand their situation. That experience encouraged me to talk less and listen more and never forget the power of perspective, good humor, and a well constructed restorative pose.

    Has y4c training impacted you in any unexpected ways?

    It’s given me even more confidence in the power of yoga to heal. I am convinced that we have only begun to tap into yoga’s effects on our bodies and minds. I am invigorated by Tari’s teaching and training and look forward to exciting discoveries about how we can live with less pain and more ease no matter how difficult our individual circumstances might be.

    What is your favorite pose and why?

    Reclining bound angle, in my experience, never fails to deliver. There are so many possible variations-from minimal props to the full “Cadillac Version.”

    Students have told me that they feel deeply protected in this pose. This pose opens the belly, throat, shoulders and heart area-areas we tend to protect. It refreshes and relaxes the body and mind and is the perfect pose to do if I feel nauseous, anxious, and depleted. Especially good before and after cat scans.

    Flat & Fabulous


    A letter to all physicians from Barb Bordwell, member of the Facebook group “Flat & Fabulous”, regarding breast reconstruction (or lack thereof) and patient decision making.

    Dear “____”,
    I am a member of a Facebook Closed Group of the same name that has now grown to over 360 members.  Some who chose no reconstruction from the beginning, some with failed reconstructions who have deconstructed, some with medical conditions that make reconstruction too risky or impossible, and some who are still at the front end of their journey and considering all of their options.  Our members include the whole range from those who wear breast forms sometimes, always or never. And even some among our midst, who with our blessings and full support, will one day change their minds and go on to have reconstruction.

    I sense that you and many of your surgical colleagues care about women who have had mastectomy or facing it whether from breast cancer or the threat of it.  Yet as I hear the stories and see the photos repeated over and over, it becomes immediately apparent there is a huge disconnect between patient expectations and the reality of the actual results, whether from initial mastectomy or from deconstruction.   At the very same time, there are a small percentage of stellar examples so we know it can be done.  What we do not understand is why stellar is not the norm and what we too often see is not the exception.

    For the vast majority of us who choose mastectomy without reconstruction, our expectation is smooth, flat, fairly symmetrical scars and a chest that is not unlike a prepubescent child with scars and no nipples.  That is the typical patient expectation.  We accepted that as the expected reality when we made the decision.  Instead, what too many are alarmed to discover upon waking is that they have been left with large pendulous pockets of extra skin, dog ears, scars that wander all over the place, and looking at times as if a summer sausage was encased under the skin and then the adjacent area sucked down to the chest.  They are then told they can “easily” have it fixed in a year or so.  Excuse me?!? Even an episode of the Doctors that I saw online left the impression that a woman’s only options are frankly a mess or full on reconstruction.  I am here to say that is a flat out lie, I know it, you know it and they know it.

    Often among the many reasons we chose no reconstruction was to prevent the need for any further medically unnecessary surgeries or procedures to the highest degree possible.  We are asking for a Breast Surgeon to give us their very best and something we can live with.

    With Pinktober upon us, my reason for writing to you is to hopefully open a discussion between the Breast and Plastic Surgeons who care for us and the patients.  I imagine some will say their patients do not typically come screaming in over the extra skin.  Probably not.  After all, the reason they chose no reconstruction was to avoid additional surgery.  Even if they complain, what can you offer them but …more surgery.  They then are faced with the very thing they did their utmost to avoid or suck it up and try to live with it.  There is this too often heard remark from surgeons “…I left the extra skin in case you ever change your mind about reconstruction.”  News flash to those in the medical field: your question should be “What if she does NOT change her mind?” and the answer to that question should NOT entail additional surgery to achieve.

    The following is what I and some of my sisters in scars discuss that we would like to see:
    1.     No reconstruction and/or Flat & Fabulous are offered equally with all of the reconstruction options.  For the most part, we are grown women who are perfectly capable of deciding what is best for ourselves and our families.  We are the ones who have to get up every day and look in the mirror and therefore it should be up to us to make the fully informed decisions.  It is time for shaming and bullying of patients by doctors and other professionals to stop.
    2.     That Flat & Fabulous will just be seen as normal.  I live that reality.  Sounds like the bra burning of the 1960’s but in fact most people we pass in daily life rarely notice and even more unlikely to care if they do notice.  If we suddenly had big ones, people would notice, but small or flat – not so much.
    3.     That the surgical outcome expectations for those choosing no reconstruction will be ever better.  There are a few among you who need to be brought up to acceptable standards or weeded out, perhaps a couple I would be tempted to send to prison.  Strange as it might sound, I know a few veterinarians who are so accomplished, I wish they were working in human medicine.
    4.     To understand there is more to the discussion leading to decisions than just longevity.  If one chooses no reconstruction, for many (not all) symmetry and balance are of utmost importance and therefore justify a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy.  Not everything can be boiled down to simply what is medically necessary.  In the same vein, a patient comparing her life with the choice of lumpectomy with radiation and hyper-surveillance, against her life with mastectomy, may choose mastectomy as the lesser thing in the long run.  Granted her length of life may be equivalent but she may see her quality of life between the two as very different.  I compared the two and chose the bilateral mx including the contralateral prophylactic.  Have never once questioned whether I made the right decisions for me.  Each one of us needs to search her heart and make the right decisions for her and statistics are just not the whole story.
    5.     To the Plastics, a gentle reminder that we are living breathing human beings and not just simply living canvases for your artwork.  Why do so many of you refuse to do revisions to simply remove all the extra tissue left from the original surgery in order to give us what we expected on the first go round which was as smooth, flat and as aesthetically pleasing as possible?  BEFORE you try to even dare to suggest reconstruction, can you truly say that it would be equal or less in time on the table, recovery, additional procedures and costs over her lifetime, as a simple one time revision?  Until we conjure up Samantha to twitch her nose, we all know the answer to that question is a resounding NO.

    This is an opportunity for you and your colleagues, whether breast or plastic, to bridge the disconnect between our expectations as patients and the typical surgical outcomes.  We have large circles out there and sadly every day brings more women coming behind us.  I think we can likely agree that a well-informed patient with realistic expectations is a plus and that is the main reason that I am reaching out to you and your colleagues.  Pinktober seems the ideal time to bring it up and right now today are women, both in the Flat & Fab group and outside it, who are gathering all the information to make their own difficult decisions.  I would love to hear from you all.  If you would like photos, I am sure they could be provided.  All the way from what we think is ideal, to acceptable, to completely unacceptable.


    P.S.  Did you notice that I did not once suggest what any patient “should” do?  That is for them and only them to decide.