We love yoga.
When it comes to Western Yoga there are many types of different practices and styles to suit our individual needs. Yoga has become much more accessible to everyone and everyBODY.
But just as accessible yoga is available to everyone, it is important to tend to our individual needs. Honoring our body and its personal journey is one of the best ways to support our self care journeys. Providing support to our clients and students begins by meeting them right where they are on their personal journey.
I am honored to introduce a very passionate yoga teacher and friend, Sabine Drescher. I had the pleasure of meeting Sabine a few years ago through Whitman Wellness Center in Whitman, MA.
I took her Yoga for Oncology workshop recently and was fascinated by the incredible information she shared about the importance of yoga for cancer patients and survivors. Since then, I apply many of her teachings into my classes.
Here is our interview where she shares her story.
Welcome Sabine! Tell us how you came to Yoga?
My Yoga journey began in August 2016. Attending more and more classes, I developed a deep love and appreciation for how yoga can improve both physical and emotional health, assisting my own long-term recovery from cancer and the associated treatments.
I became certified at the 200 hour YogaSpirit® level by Whitman Wellness Center and a registered yoga teacher (RYT) through the Yoga Alliance in 2020. I received my Usui/Holy Fire III® Reiki Ryoho Certification for both Reiki I and Reiki II in 2021. I completed the y4c (yoga4cancer) certified teacher program in July of 2021 to pay forward and provide the knowledge, facts and solutions to assist and address the specific needs of the cancer community: understanding the unique physical, emotional needs and challenges of those touched by cancer.
Can you share your personal story of what brought you to oncology yoga?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 at the age of 39. The biopsy confirmed an estrogen positive tumor the size of a golf ball. To remember all details is impossible: shock, fear and helpless – CANCER! 22 weeks of Chemotherapy – a journey of fear when my body said: ‘can't do this any more’ –But joy when I had a good day that opened my eyes to changing seasons. And then again thinking the following day I should make preparations for my possible death that I felt at the time, was coming very soon. A roller coaster of despair, hope, determination and strength — and I never liked roller coasters!
Surgery followed after 7 months of my original diagnosis with big hopes, as the prior scan showed the tumor had responded to chemo and decreased to 1 ½ inches. A successful surgery was followed by two weeks in hospital isolation after I contracted a life threatening viral infection. Recovery was followed by seven weeks of daily radiation – an easy task, considering what my body and mind had gone through already.
I knew nothing of yoga, never had been to a class — fast forward 2016. My first ever yoga class, I remember how uncomfortable I was, but there was something that made me come back, week after week. I could see a change: my scar tissue started to be less painful (after 10 years), I suddenly had more flexibility and movements in my arm. It felt so good when I could relax my mind and body. It was then I decided to enroll into yoga teacher training to learn more about yoga.
I fell deeply in love with it; never thinking I would actually ‘teach’ – but I am! Through a yoga article I was reading one day I was made aware that there is an Oncology yoga certification that is diving deep into the topic of cancer. I signed up and learned why my yoga “feels” so good; the science of yoga, after having walked my own cancer path. Now, I not only love yoga, I am passionate about what I am doing. I share the knowledge and tools to help others that walk this path; assisting their bodies in recovery, giving tools to cope with the ever present thought: “I have this pain, is that a new cancer?” It will never go away, but I have learned through the gift of yoga to live a fuller life.
What do you want people to most understand about yoga during treatment for cancer, post-treatment and remission?
Yoga is not recommended as an “Alternative” treatment to conventional treatments as there is no evidence that yoga can be a replacement for, or an alternative to proven medical protocols.
Yoga is not one size fits all – Oncology Yoga is an integrative, adjunct approach to support the cancer patient and survivor through conventional treatments and ongoing wellness plans. It is a comprehensive practice that matches breath and movements to mitigate the short- and long-term side effects of cancer and its treatments. Being active is a key focus of survivorship. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer survivors should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or up to 320 minutes for those who are obese. Despite guidelines, many yoga programs for cancer patients/survivors focus on gentle or restorative yoga practice, thereby limiting the range of benefits available to the practitioner. Many classes are offered for 6-8 weeks - BUT survivors must cope with side effects for years or decades to come – Oncology yoga classes encourage continued practice.
How does your service, area of practice, or product serve the community? How can we find out more information about your classes and where you teach?
I encourage you to participate, to see and “feel” an Oncology Yoga class. I currently teach at Whitman Wellness Center, 7 Marble Street, Whitman, MA and at Stella Maris Yoga and Wellness, 2573 Cranberry Highway, Wareham, MA.
Tell us more about your other top forms of self-care! Could be anything. Working out, yoga, eating habits, massage, meditation, journaling, equine therapy, etc!
As a teacher I take yoga classes, as a student, I never stop learning. My teaching includes meditation which I practice myself.
Are there any safety tips or special considerations for those who may be watching this class from home who are undergoing treatment for cancer specifically?
I offer classes available through Zoom, for those that prefer to practice from home.
As in all home participations – make sure you have enough room to practice without furniture or walls obstructing your movements. Practice with surgical drains is not recommended. We use props, like blocks (substitute could be paper towel rolls or several DVD covers taped together), blankets and bolsters (substitute could be pillows).
Tell us about the greatest challenge facing patients today and how your business is poised to advance education and services to those who cannot afford it?
Being diagnosed with cancer puts a survivor on the fast track for a doctorate in 'Cancer University'. Many questions arise, including what is cancer? What causes cancer? How did I ‘get’ cancer? The answers to these questions and many more deliver the information we need to best understand how the application of Oncology Yoga supports recovery, cancer prevention and avoiding cancer recurrence. Oncology Yoga classes are in general free of charge to those that cannot afford to pay for the practice.
Thank you for sharing your yoga gifts with us, Sabine.
You can find Sabine on Instagram @sabinesoncologyyoga and every Friday 5pm at Whitman Wellness Center, in person or zoom, www.whitmanwellnesscenter.com
Yoga Tree of Life with Sabine
RYT 200, y4c Yoga teacher, Oncology yoga teacher, Reiki I & Reiki II certified
Types of Services offered: Yoga / Oncology Yoga
Located in E. Bridgewater, Whitman, Wareham, MA