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Pink Ribbon Yoga is for Caregivers, Too

By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 3)

Finding stillness within is a perpetual challenge for caregivers and for their loved ones.  Programs often focus on the individual with the health challenge; and while there are resources available for caregivers, it is special to find one that welcomes both caregiver and patient or loved one.  Pink Ribbon Yoga, created by Corey Becker, RN, encourages patients, caregivers, and their extended support network to come together and de-stress.
 
Becker has opened Memorial Hospital Cancer Center's Breast Cancer Awareness seminars in South Florida for the past three years with instruction in yoga techniques.  Feedback from participants reached such positive levels that she designed a yoga program to help women undergoing the "journey" of breast cancer recovery, and all those who come "in love and support" of another.
 
Alleviating caregiver stress and bonding loved ones are her longtime missions.  Having offered programs in Alzheimer's Support that work with caregiver and loved one, Becker strives to create a bridge that strengthens both caregiver and family.
 
While Pink Ribbon Yoga began with the intent of supporting breast cancer patients, it has expanded to include individuals with a variety of health challenges, from spinal surgery to ovarian cancer.  Some students have been cancer free for more than a decade, while others are just being diagnosed.  Participants find a connection at the most basic human level, human kindness. 
 
For caregivers of all types, one of the benefits is the fellowship of the class.  "First we do physical," Corey emphasizes.  The basic poses are modified for each group, focusing on restoring energy, rather than burning calories.  A physical and mental relaxation are done near class end, followed by a short group discussion.  The physical warming up allows for the body to relax, and when group discussion or "sharing" begins, emotions may be released as well.
 
When caregivers and their loved ones attend together, Corey notes that healthy bonding occurs.  Individuals find themselves encouraging one another, and appreciating the yoga poses, as well as laughing about flexibility challenges.  Again, the gap of who is well and who is ill becomes blurred when a patient or loved one may have far more flexibility than the caregiver.
 
Caregivers and loved ones of all types have new visions and increased understanding during the sharing process.  Voicing feelings and experiences in a positive, non-judgmental environment brings a reward as well.  "Being heard is therapeutic and healing, states Becker.
 
For many, yoga has been a practice that appears out of reach, with pretzel-shaped poses suited for a rag doll.  Pink Ribbon Yoga takes the individual into consideration first, concentrating on simple movements, breathing, and awareness of the body.  In the daily world of caregiving, awareness of the body may come last.  Becker encourages students to think about how they are feeling while leaving behind the criticism.

 

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