ARTICLES / General /
Pink Ribbon Yoga is for Caregivers, Too /
By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer
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
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.