In conjunction with our partnership with YogaWorks Pink this month, we had the pleasure of chatting with Becky Nickerson, a YogaWorks Pink teacher and yogi. Her presence and words exude tranquility and calm, and she takes pride in teaching skillful and compassionate classes to help restore our body and mind. Becky's mother is a two-time breast cancer thriver, so she understands the importance of modifying a yoga practice during cancer— from simply tuning inward during treatment to breathwork, meditation to gently incorporating limited movement as our body begins to strengthen and heal. As an early breast screening advocate herself, Becky is passionate about the YogaWorks Pink Program and its robust health and fitness offerings. To learn more about the benefits of yoga for those who are currently facing or in recovery from breast cancer, discover which poses are best to practice and avoid, what we can expect from on-demand classes and much more, read our latest #EvervioletChats.
Can you tell us a little bit about the YogaWorks Pink Program and your partnership with Susan G. Komen®? What is the origin story behind this program? Do you have a personal connection to breast cancer?
YogaWorks was created 35 years ago with one purpose in mind—to provide people with a happy place where everyone is welcome to practice yoga. The groundbreaking restorative fitness program, YogaWorks Pink, in partnership with Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, is an extension of the brand’s mission, providing the breast cancer community free access to highly beneficial yoga activities.
YogaWorks Pink empowers the breast cancer community to experience a better overall quality of life. For participants who elect to continue their membership at a discounted rate, YogaWorks will donate a portion of fees to guarantee a minimum donation of $100,000 to Komen.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in elementary school and then again, 16 years later, right before I got married almost ten years ago. She was 39 years old when she was first diagnosed. Her sister, my aunt, also had breast cancer. Both are currently thriving and cancer free. My mom loves Ashley Lorenzo’s class on YogaWorks. I’m 38 now and get scanned every 6 months.
How is yoga beneficial to women who are currently facing or in recovery from breast cancer?
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women in the U.S. Evidence shows that physical activity, such as yoga, can help improve quality of life, reduce common treatment side effects, and lower the risk of recurrence.
Yoga can have a significantly positive impact on the well-being of breast cancer survivors, shortening their recovery times and reducing the risk of recurrence. Studies show survivors who got 10 or more metabolic equivalent hours of activity a week had a 30% lower overall mortality compared to less active survivors. Getting regular exercise and avoiding weight gain also has the added benefit of lowering the risk of other major diseases which remain important concerns for survivors as they get older.
How soon after surgery and treatment is it safe to return to yoga?
This program offers health, nutrition, and fitness information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should consult your physician before starting this or any other exercise program to determine if it suits your needs.
Are there certain poses we should avoid, and for how long? Are there any risks involved?
Always listen to your body and the advice of your physician. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult a physician. We recommend beginning with gentle classes. As you build strength, stamina, and familiarity with the poses you may progress to more challenging classes.
Poses are meant to be modified and customized based on your individual needs. This can be based on physical limitations, changes in energy levels, or movement constraints. Just because your pose doesn’t look like social media or Yoga Journal does not make it any less beneficial to YOU!
What can one expect from a live or on-demand YogaWorks Pink class?
YogaWorks Pink classes will include specific poses and practices that are adapted around the limitations some may experience when going through treatment and recovery, as well as focused on the mental, physical, and emotional needs of those in the community. Some regular YogaWorks classes will also incorporate some notes on adaptations even when not a class in the “Pink” collection.
If we are still recovering or have ongoing side effects from treatment, what is the best way to prepare for a yoga class?
If you have undergone breast cancer surgery, remember that soft tissue takes time to heal. Your range of motion will likely be limited. Take time to work your way into poses that require arms raised overhead as well as back bending and chest opening postures). Consistent, gradual progression is key.
We know that often women face limited arm mobility and lymphedema after breast cancer. Which poses encourage healing and range of motion?
Some commonly practiced poses include a cross-legged seat with belly breathing, a cross-legged seat with a twist, mountain pose, warrior two, tree pose, bridge pose, and plank variations.
Can you speak to the power of breathwork and meditation?
A yoga practice that includes meditation and breathing exercises can help reduce common treatment side effects such as stress, and anxiety, and may reduce joint and muscle pain.
Breathwork, which involves conscious control of the breath, can be used to regulate the nervous system and promote relaxation. It can also help improve oxygenation and circulation in the body, which can have many positive health benefits when recovering from breast cancer surgery. Regular meditation practice has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration, and promote feelings of calm and well-being.
Overall, both breathwork and meditation can be powerful tools for improving mental and physical health, and many people find them to be valuable parts of their breast cancer self-care routines.
How can we access curated tips, information, and resources from Susan G. Komen®?
Sign up for YogaWorks Pink or visit Susan G. Komen for more information.
How can one become a YogaWorks Pink member, and what does this membership include?
Visit www.yogaworks.com/pink and sign-up today to receive three months of free access to weekly live classes tailored to breast cancer treatment and recovery, plus access to YogaWorks’ full on-demand library. You’ll also have access to dedicated support to guide you through which classes work best for you. And don't forget to enter our month-long giveaway where one lucky winner can win a year-long YogaWorks membership, plus a $250 Everviolet Gift Card (ENTER TO WIN HERE)!