Cancer patients live every moment of every day with the stress caused by the disease. Now there are ways to relive stress, including one technique that may not be top of mind.
Yoga, a centuries old physical and mental discipline, is ideally suited for addressing stress and promoting increased energy and a calm demeanor, according to Yoga Master Kathy Verstegen.
Verstegen teaches Yoga at the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center's Wellness Center, operated by the Patient & Family Services group. But she adds a twist to the method, which she calls “Gentle Yoga,” a slower-paced approach designed for all ages and fitness levels.
“It is a great program for anyone, regardless of your physical condition. It doesn’t matter whether you are 22 or 92. You can even do chair yoga and get the benefits,” Verstegen explains.
Verstegen, who has been working with the Cancer Center for two years, believes there is no better way to relieve stress than yoga postures and breathing techniques.
“Patients tell me they feel less stress during and after yoga,” she says. “During the exercises, you lose track of time and space. You are completely focused on the next breath.”
In addition to reduced stress, other benefits include increased strength, improved balance and a better overall feeling about life, according to Verstegen.
“Until you take care of yourself first, you cannot take care of others,” she advises. “That applies not only to patients, but to family members, care givers and staff, who can all benefit from yoga.”
A 14-year veteran of teaching yoga, Verstegen is a passionate advocate of the technique, whose upbeat classes are an important part of patient wellness.
“We can work with people, even if they have limitation of range of motion. Our classes are small enough so we can give individual attention, so we can help each individual gain the maximum benefit,” she says.
Verstegen holds classes every Thursday on the first floor of the Grossman Library. Classes are from noon to 1 p.m. For more information, calls 450-5574.
Classes are open to everyone, including caregivers, Cancer Center staff and patients treated at other cancer centers.