Yoga for Cancer Patients Teacher Training I, II, III : “The Art & Science of Teaching Yoga to Cancer Patients” Detail Description

by Jean Di Carlo-Wagner, M.A.,  Survivor,  Certificated Cancer Advocate, Activist

C-IAYT, E-RYT200, E-RYT500



Yoga teachers working with cancer patients and those in long-term treatment, are very special yoga teachers, indeed!
Teaching yoga for cancer patients requires specialized skills.
It also requires in-depth, and ongoing learning in the areas of:

1) research on cancer, its known causes, types and treatments & side effects
2) advanced understanding of anatomy, physiology, psychology
3) safe and effective breathing for strength, relaxation, and pain control
4) wide array of meditation techniques for anxiety, pain control, sleep, ease of well-being
5) yogic principles and philosophy

In order to support survivors, you need to be mentored and guided in developing skills in all these areas. This is the science of teaching yoga to cancer patients.  The art of taking the information and putting it into skillful use is the goal of this training.

Background Knowledge for Yoga Teachers


Yoga Therapists listed on International Association of Yoga Therapist

Yoga Teachers who have completed 200 hour training and have been teaching three years

Experienced  Yoga Teachers

The Art  & Science of Teaching Yoga for Cancer Patients  and Survivors

Part I: The Cancer Dilemma
Part II: Diving Into Solutions: Gaining Knowledge & Practical Applications
Part III: Putting It Altogether


Part I:  The Cancer Dilemma

  • Building Compassion for the cancer diagnosis
  • Yamas and Niyamas in working ethically with cancer patients
  • What is Cancer?
  • Cancer Stages and Diagnosis
  • Side Effects of Common Cancer Treatments
  • Resources on Research on Yoga & Cancer
  • How to find and decode research
  • The Construct Model of Designing a Therapeutic Yoga Class
  • Skype Calls with Instructor throughout training
  • Meditation and its uses for cancer patient
  • Meditation Research
  • Death and Dying
  • Yogic Philosophy and Research on Yoga & Cancer
  • A model class
  • Pre-test and Post-test


Part II: Diving Into Solutions

  • The Anatomy of Breathing article by Leslie Kasminoff
  • The Breathing Book, Donna Farhi, please purchase and read
  • The “Breathing Template” to use when designing a 15 minute breathing section for cancer patients
  •  Develop and post a 15 minute audio/video  Breathing section to Youtube or Vimeo

  • Keeping students safe, setting intentions and using effective , non-violent communication
  • Designing  3 Breathing lessons  from the “Breathing Book”
  • Use of research based articles to glean information and use it in your YCS classes
  • The “Meditation Template” to use when designing a 20 minute meditation section for cancer patients
  •  Setting intention, use of language and attitude, environmental factors in a YCS class
  • Building knowledge, critical skills for reviewing research and becoming more familiar with cancer content, sites and information
  • The anatomy and physiology of breathing and  safe breathing practices with cancer patients and survivors
  • The effects of stress on a body, the healing effects of breathing, asana and meditation
  • Toolbox of meditation techniques, relaxation, self-hypnosis, contemplation and self-study to use in a YCS class
  • Develop a 15 minute audio/video meditation for Youtube from what you have learned
  • Ethics and teaching, using the yamas and niyamas consciously within your YCS class
  • Yogic philosophy and exploring your own practice, your thoughts on yoga and cancer , death and dying
  • Build a knowledge base of health issues associated with cancer treatments through researched based articles
  • The spiritual and physical effects of death and dying, yogic philosophy as well as physical reality
  • Field trip for self-knowledge
  • Lessons will help you understand common side effects of cancer treatments
  • Five in-depth Lessons in Section II, ending with a Skype session or phone call.
  • Group phone calls will be an option in Section II

Part III :  Putting It All Together

  • 23 Essential Poses for YCS students
  • The use of surveys for Quality of Life assessment tools
  • Assessment of Range of Motion Measures
  • The “Asana Template” for designing a safe and effective YCS class for most cancer patients and survivors
  • Design asana section for YCS class and audio/video tape it for an individual or a group, upload your YCS class to  Youtube or Vimeo
  • Demonstrate using your knowledge of breathing, yoga asana and expanded meditation techniques within an YCS class
  • Use the breathing exploration lessons developed in Part II, showing confidence in skill and knowledge in your class design
  • Develop and post an Asana audio/video section for YCS
  • Using the 3 Part Construct for developing a YCS class, and  knowledge you’ve acquired, embed the information in your YCS class to empower students
  • Yogic philosophy will be detectable within your YCS class design
  • Advanced Meditation knowledge, the Relaxation Response, Vasovagal Theory
  • The Language of Invitation in Yoga Therapy
  • Resources for common cancer rehabilitation
  • Confidently use the resources discussed to develop a safe and effective YCS classes
  • Receive a Resource Guide with my favorite collections of articles, PDF’s, Reference Material collected over 12 years You will have two hours of direct support to design a class.
  • The Business of Yoga – how to start a program
  • Ongoing support for as long as you are working with survivors



Yoga for Cancer Patients Teacher Training

About Jean:  Before cancer, I was a student of yoga for twenty years.  I loved more physical forms of yoga in my twenties, and developed a taste for all types of yoga into my forties.  I was a Resource Specialist for San Diego City Schools and have a master’s degree in education. My work spanned all grades and subjects, as my responsibility was to find children who needed special services, evaluate them and design programs to benefit the student’s needs. This experience directly relates to my work with cancer patients and my passion for finding a way to make yoga accessible for even the most fragile student.

At age 46, I was diagnosed with late stage colon cancer and retired early from 25 years as a special education teaching career. After six months of weekly chemotherapy, I had a less than a 50% chance of living five years. What would I do with my life? Short or long, what did I want to do? I had a deep faith and used meditation and relaxation, but my body and the future felt uncertain and fragile. I used the beginning of a gentle yoga tape at home. You know, the first few minutes where you breathe and set an intention, and stretch a little.  And slowly, I developed more strength. I longed to share what I learned about gently returning to a ‘new normal’ with other survivors. I wanted to share that they could find healing in yoga; and that’s what I do everyday!

Yoga became a calling. I started the first San Diego Community YCS yoga class, opened to all cancer patients, at Hazard Center YMCA in 2006; and then started another class at Ginseng Yoga Studio, where I continue to teach. I told my story in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist.  I’ve traveled around the country teaching yoga at Liver Cancer Symposium where doctors and nurses learn state-of-the-art cancer treatments. And I have taught and talked about yoga at these conferences. I am a yoga activist in many online forums for survivors. Cure Magazine, Women and Cancer, Patient Resources the Colon Cancer Coalition have interviewed me on yoga and cancer survivorship.  In 2007, I produced a Yoga for Cancer Survivors cd and donated  3,800 to non-profits, hospitals, clinics and individuals. The cd is now a FREE downloadable and the Spanish version, and one in Slovene by Lidija (one of my amazing students who is multi-lingual!)! There are many hours of meditations made for survivors for free on under Yoga Being. Like my page, “Yoga Being”, on Facebook and get daily yoga tips for cancer survivors!

I continue to work one-to-one with patients, family members and friends who have cancer. I am online, as a yoga resource and Cancer Advocate, at, on Facebook at Yoga Being Page and Yoga with Jean , on FaceBook at DAMMIT CANCER,  as well serving several non-profits as a support person.  I also have a monthly “Yoga Phone Class” for homebound patients. To reach survivors, we have to think outside of the regular formats and create new venues for yoga. I’m so glad to have you join me reaching out to 12.6 million cancer survivors in the USA alone, and even more around the world. Start taking action to be a solution to a growing need.

Survivors come to us  for hope of a better life.  We can empower their “healer within” and bring hope and healing through yoga.

Contact me about an application for training at