BELLVILLE — Yoga is touted as one of the best forms of physical activity, with numerous health benefits.
Mindy Wood, of Bellville, had “dabbled” in yoga for years, but it wasn’t until after she was diagnosed with cancer that she realized what a profound impact yoga can have on the body, especially one that has undergone cancer treatment.
Wood, 58, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and underwent a series of treatments, including several rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and lymphadenectomy.
“When you go through cancer, you feel kind of powerless because you almost feel like your body has betrayed you,” Wood said. “You want to do everything you can on your own to heal from that, so you start eating right and exercising, but for me, the yoga just seemed to really help with all the different aspects that I was dealing with.”
Wood said she had many side effects from the cancer treatment.
“It was wonderful treatment because here I am still today, but after going through all of that, I realized I lost some range of motion because of the surgery through my armpit,” she said.
She also suffered from lymphedema, arthritis pain and fatigue.
After her yoga workouts, however, she noticed a positive change in how she felt.
“I felt just so much better,” she said. “I noticed I was more mobile with less pain, started getting stronger… and the fatigue, it helped with managing that.”
Now, Wood hopes to pay it forward and help other cancer patients and survivors by holding yoga4cancer classes, starting Sept. 18 and 19 for eight consecutive weeks at the Oui Integrated Wellness and Yoga Cooperative.
Founded by Tari Prinster, yoga4cancer (Y4C) is a research-based, specialized yoga methodology addressing the specific physical and emotional needs left by cancer and its treatments. With over 2,300 trained teachers worldwide, Y4C classes are always taught by a certified Y4C teacher with knowledge and awareness of the special needs of cancer patients and survivors.
Wood, who works as an occupational therapist, became certified in Y4C in 2017.
“Having that medical background kind of attracted me to the yoga4cancer classes and the certification that I ended up getting,” she said.
"This (Y4C) was something that I had really wanted to get going (in the area), but I just wanted it to be right, and when I met Deb (McDaniel) through Oui, it seemed like the timing was right.”
Oui is a new member-owned and operated wellness facility opening at the Richland Mall this September.
The yoga4cancer classes will be taught by Wood, along with Deb McDaniel and Carol Brown. The classes will be held on Wednesdays from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. and Thursdays from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. The cost is $15 per class or $105 for all eight classes if paid on the first day. Click here to register.
“Yoga4cancer is not an alternative to medical treatment, but it’s more of an integrative or complementary approach that really focuses on helping with a lot of those side effects you experience during or after treatment,” Wood explained.
“We're not here to replace medical treatment, we’re here to work with it,” McDaniel added.
If you have any questions or concerns on whether these classes are right for you, consult a physician.
Y4C offers a gentle and restorative approach to yoga, while at the same time incorporating exercises to maintain a strong immune system, build muscle strength, improve bone density, as well as boost overall well-being, Wood said.
Y4C classes share similar poses to those used in regular yoga classes, but Wood noted, “It’s adapted to be really safe and effective for different things that people going through cancer face.”
“What I hope to be able to do is talk to each person that signs up and see where they are, what they might need and really help them with the right approach,” she said.
“I feel like (Y4C) is a tool in helping with recovery because sometimes it can take years to really work through a lot of that, and I feel like it’s something I want to share with other people.”