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

by Jean Di Carlo-Wagner, M.A., survivor, advocate

E-RYT200, E-RYT500, Yoga Therapist

Yoga teachers drawn to work with cancer patients and those in long-term treatment, are very special yoga teachers, indeed! Teaching yoga for cancer patients requires specialized skills. It requires in-depth, and ongoing learning in the areas of: 1) research on cancer &  yoga,  2) advanced understanding of anatomy, 3) physiology, 4) psychology, and 5) yogic principles and philosophy. In order to support survivors, you need to be 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.

The online course, The Art  & Science of Teaching Yoga for Cancer Patients  and Survivors teacher training course has three sections.

 Part I:  The Introduction: The Cancer Dilemma 30CEU’s,    Part II: Diving Into Solutions: Gaining Knowledge with Practical Application 35CEU’s,   and,    Part III: Putting It Altogether 35CEU’s.  

Course Options

Each section builds on the next section.  All three sections have ongoing enrollment and are supported by me with email, phone calls and a gmail chat group. I respond to every homework assignment you do.

Part I:  The first is a 30 hour/CEU’s from Yoga Alliance . It is an intensive introduction and overview called “The Cancer Dilemma“. Anyone may take this section who wants to learn how yoga can benefit cancer survivors.  Only approved yoga teachers may take the last two sections, after completing Part I successfully.  After a teacher completes the first section, we will have a conversation about continuing. Your ability to work independently and collectively is required to move forward. 

 Part II:  The second section is a 35 hour/CEU’s from Yoga Alliance.It is called “Diving Into Solutions”. It is an  in-depth review of researched based literature in: breathing practices, death and dying, yogic philosophy, anatomy and physiology, and meditation. You will learn how to take the theoretical knowledge into the practical application by designing and implementing two sections of a YCS class. . You will gain skill in using the teaching construct I designed to make safe and effective classes. You will learn to use research paired with yogic philosophy to make your classes empowering for your students. You will make audio recordings of a breathing section and a meditation section using my templates and put them up on Youtube to create FREE content for survivors.

Part III.  The third section is a 35 hour/ CEU’s from Yoga Alliance.  It is called “Putting It Altogether”. The focus of this section is making a safe ‘asana’ section. The  final class project will be uploaded  on a social media site, like YouTube or The ultimate goal is that you have the skills and confidence to create a private program for a survivor or a group class. You will be able to create safe yoga classes, based in research and yogic philosophy. The course will build your knowledge of cancer and its treatments, and resources for you to continue learning. This section includes my private list of the best resources for cancer, which I’ve collected over a decade working in this field. Your final project online will be adding to the body of work already available for cancer patients who are homebound or in the hospital.

Each student has 3 months from the enrollment date to complete the section they are in or forfeit their investment. There are no refunds.

Only approved yoga teachers can take the complete training for a “Certificate of Completion” (Part II and Part III).


The material is graphic, emotionally evocative,  and is meant to elicit strong reactions.  If you aren’t sure you have what it takes to teach survivors, this introduction will make it clearer for you to decide.

Introduction, Part I:  The Cancer Dilemma ( 30 hours CEU’s/Yoga Alliance) $199.00.  Ongoing enrollment.  Start anytime.

A thorough introduction to the emotional impact of cancer and its side effects, including a powerful emotional experience. There are high impact activities geared toward creating empathy and understanding for cancer survivors. This section includes extensive and graphic information about death and dying. You will learn to use national cancer resources, have video lectures, the opportunity for support phone calls and you will receive written feedback with each lesson. You will read research articles, put the information into a YCS Class Construct, and you will learn how to share information with students, making for an effective class model. By using research as well as yogic philosophies on healing, you will empower your students to assist their bodies in healing with both Western and Eastern techniques.

My YCS  Class Construct for developing a safe and effective, research based “yoga for cancer survivors” class is explained in detail. A practical framework for planning a YCS class will be taught. You will learn how to decipher credible research from poorly designed research. You will start to learn how to take useful information and present it using non-violent communication techniques. At the end of this section, we will have an hour phone call to go over what you learned in Part I.

Diving Into Solutions Part II:  Gaining knowledge with practical applications for cancer patients(30 hours CEU’s/Yoga Alliance) $199.00

Extending your knowledge of yogic breathing which is safe for cancer patients is the heart of  Part II.  You will receive a Breathing Template on how to create a safe breathing section for your cancer survivor class. You will record a 10 minute breathing section. We will cover the anatomy and physiology of breathing as you have never been taught before in a yoga training. Developing a body of  researched based  yoga benefits for cancer patients to use in your lesson is taught. You will  learn about death and dying,  yogic philosophy, non-violent communication, and start a meditation toolbox .  Looking at yoga as a healing tool, we will use the YCS Class Construct  and class outline to develop thematic lessons.  Direct experiential learning will aid students in thinking through how the physical effects of treatments  and how they may impact an individual. Advanced discussions of the anatomy of breathing, postures and meditation techniques will be shared. Teachers will experience a full hour class and have time to deconstruct the class and its deeper underpinnings.  You will also make a meditation section for cancer survivors using a Meditation Template and add a 10 minute meditation to your YOUTUBE channel. Your class work will be approved, and then you will put it on Youtube.

Putting it Altogether, Part III:  Designing a YCS class   (30hours CEU’s/Yoga Alliance)  $199.00*  Following the YCS Class Construct  students will develop an asana section (either audio or visual  YCS  class).  You will be given examples and shown postures to follow and instructed in how to use reference tools and books, articles and research based teaching techniques.  Each part of the class and its construction will be analyzed using yogic principles and precepts. Students will complete  an entire class and have a chance to practice with supportive feedback.  The final project will be the development of a class for a specific person or for a small group class and make a YouTube audio or video of the class (to add to YOUTUBE).  Section II completion helps you make the total class with ease. The final project is  45 minutes to one hour long.  The resources and references in this section are meant to allow you to continue learning and growing. I have put my favorite books, lectures, online resources and articles together in a resource library that is worth the cost of the course itself.


Objectives Skills Part I:  An  Intensive Introduction:  The Cancer Dilemma

  • Pre-test
  • Complete 10 Lessons in Section 1
  • List  5  emotional, physical and social impacts of cancer
  • List  5  National cancer resources
  • Learn to use a Construct for Designing a YCS  yoga class, matching yoga benefits  to cancer challenges
  • Define cancer, its stages and name 4 types of  common cancers
  • Use research based  yoga information to develop a YCS class and cancer information to empower yourself and your students
  • List common cancer treatments, their side effects and yoga benefits
  • Three Step Class Design for a failsafe class
  • Death and dying issues and prejudices
  • Healing versus cure
  • Download and listen to Yoga for Cancer Survivors on Sound Cloud
  • Class experience
  • Skype or phone call for Lesson 10
  • Post-Test


Objective Skills Part II:   Practical Application: Diving Into Solutions

  • Purchase  this book before Part II of the coursework.
  • The Breathing Book, Donna Farhi


  • 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
  •  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 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 which 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


Objective Skills Part III :  Putting It All Together :  Designing a YCS Class

  • Design a class and 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
  • Using the 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
  • Confidently use the resources discussed to develop a safe and effective YCS classes
  • Competence in serving cancer patients with a multitude of common cancers; whether in treatment or a long-term patient or survivor
  • The final project will be agreed upon by student and teacher.  You will have two hours of direct support to design a class.
  • Ongoing support for as long as you are working with survivors


Background Knowledge for Yoga Teachers

Teachers and  Interested Students:  The Part I  is opened to interested participants outside of yoga  (i.e., partners, parents, siblings, caregivers, cancer researchers , medical personal, personal trainers ).

Teachers who have completed 200 hour training, and have been teaching three years, or have completed their E-RYT training, or are in the process of getting their 500 hour training may take the complete training. Students who are in the process of a 200 hour training may take the class with permission from the instructor. If you live outside of the United States, you may take the training after a discussion with me of your yoga background.


To receive a certificate in training Yoga for Cancer Survivors, students must provide your  identification number from Yoga Alliance (approved certification). At the successful completion the 3 Sections of the course,  students will receive a printed certificate in the mail and 100 hour CEU’s from Yoga Alliance.  Other participants will receive certificate of completion by email only.



Common Questions:

Write to the instructor

Anyone may start Part I:  The Dilemma, not just yoga instructors, though a yoga background does help 

This is a one person business, just me, and I keep it simple.  One of my graduates, Caitlin Parsons, assists me in training Part I.

*Ability to use a computer, make videos, post videos, and navigate links and work independently are critical to success*

With special circumstances, I do approve teachers to complete the whole course.  With approval, you may pay $500.00 for the whole course and must be done within 6 months to attain a “Certificate of Achievement”.






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 50/50% 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 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, now.

Yoga became a calling. I started the first 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 communities for survivors. Cure Magazine, Women and Cancer and the Colon Cancer Coalition have interviewed me on yoga and 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!)  work on Slovene! There is also 3 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, at COLONTOWN on Facebook,, 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, and even more around the world.

Survivors come to us, as all students,  for hope of a better life.  We can empower their ” healers within ” and bring hope through yoga.