The Art & Science of Teaching Yoga to Cancer Patients and Survivors
by Jean Di Carlo-Wagner, M.A., survivor
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, in-depth, and ongoing learning in the areas research on cancer & yoga; as well as, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and yogic principles and philosophy. In order to support survivors, you need to be guided to develop skills, and learn how to access and interpret the body of researched-based knowledge that is beneficial to cancer survivorship. The art of taking the information and putting it to skillful use is as individual as your fingerprint.
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, Part II: Diving Into Solutions: Gaining Knowledge with Practical Application
Part III: Putting It Altogether.
Each section builds on the next section. All three sections have ongoing enrollment and are supported by me with email, phone calls and Skype. The first is a 25 hour 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.
The second section is a 30 hour in-depth review of researched based literature. breathing practices, death and dying, yogic philosophy, anatomy and physiology, and learning how to take the theoretical into the practical. It is called “Diving Into Solutions”. You will gain skills in using the teaching construct I designed to make safe and effective classes. You will learn to use research paired with yogic philiosophy to make your classes empowering for your students. You will make a breathing section and a meditation section using my templates and put them up on Youtube to create FREE content for survivors.
The third section is a 30 hour in-depth use of these tools to develop your own class with group and individual support.It is called “Putting It Altogether”.The final class project is meant to be uploaded on a social media site, like YouTube. The ultimate goal is is that you have the skill and confidence to create a private progam for a survivor or a group class with safety, firm principles grounded in research, and background knowledge of cancer and its treatments. In addition, your final project online will be adding to the body of work already available for cancer patients who are home bound or in the hospital.
Each student has 3 months from the enrollment date to complete the section they are in. If you go beyond three months, the following sections will cost more. I keep the enrollment to 15 students, so holding a spot for you means someone will have to delay their starting date.
The first training is available here. Anyone may take the first section training (Part I). Only approved yoga teachers can take the complete training for a certificate from me (Part II and Part III).
The material is graphic, emotionally evocative and is meant to illicit 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 ( 25 hours) $150.00
A thorough introduction to the emotional impact of cancer and its side effects, including a powerful emotional experience and high impact activities to create an empathy for cancer survivors through direct experience. Using national cancer resources and research articles, you will learn how to use information within your class design to shape safe and effective classes . Your information during class will empower your students with knowledge of how to assist their bodies in healing.
My YCS Construct for developing a”yoga for cancer surviviors” class is explained in detail. A practical framework for planning a YCS class will be taught. The combination of the YCS Construct and the YCS Format will give you the basics for designing a class.You will learn how to continue learning and presenting useful information with non-violent communication techniques. The course ends with a class experience. Questions and answers will be answered by a phone call we me at Lesson 10.
Diving Into Solutions Part II: Gaining knowledge with practical applications for cancer patients(30 hours) $150.00
Beginning with extending your knowledge of yogic breathing which is safe for cancer patients is the heart of section II. We will cover the anatamony and physiology of breathing as you have likely never been taught before this course. Developing deep knowledge of researched based yoga benefits for cancer patients, learning about death and dying, yogic philosophy, non-violent communication, and a meditation toolbox is the focus of section II. Looking at yoga as a healing tool, we will use the YCS construct and class outline to develop thematic lessons. A template for a class will be filled out together as we explore the common side effects of cancer treatments and match them to yoga teachings, postures and effective communication in a YCS class. Direct experiential learning will aid students in thinking through how the physical effects of treatments 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. Students will complete three lesson plans in breathing practices safe for cancer patients. They will also make a video of teaching a breathing section and a meditation section for cancer survivors. This work will be approved and then you will put it on Youtube to create more free content for survivors.
Putting it Altogether, Part III: Designing a YCS class (30hours) $150.00 Following the YCS Construct and the YCS Format for class, students will develop a YCS audio class. You will be given templates 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 a class and have a chance to practice with supportive feedback. The final project will be the develop of a class for a specific person or for a small group class and make a YouTube audio or video of the class. Section II completion helps you make the total class with ease. The final project is 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
- 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
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 who have completed 200 hour training, or are in the process of completing a 200 hour training may take the first four hours of training. 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.
To receive a certificate in training Yoga for Cancer Survivors, students must provide proof of 200 hr Yoga Alliance approved certification. At the successful completion of the 45 hour course, the student will receive a Yoga for Cancer Survivors course completion and 85 hour CEU’s from Yoga Alliance. Other participants will receive certificate of completion.
Note: There is currently no Yoga Alliance certification for Yoga for Cancer Survivors. Students need to understand that their choice of instructors is the best indicator of the quality of training they will receive. However, the International Association of Yoga Therapist will recognize those of us who have been working in the field and grandfather us into their certification, providing we can show proof of working in the field of yoga for cancer survivors. Keep track of your work, and the certification you receive from me will help you validate your efforts to get specialized training. I have been ‘pre-approved’, through my eight years of work in this field, to be called a Yoga Therapist. This helps you use your certification from me to work with cancer patients. If you are trained and begin working, you too may apply for ‘grandfathering’ into IAYT, with proof that you have taken a class and you are currently working with cancer survivors.
Pre-requirements for all students
Write to the instructor for approval to take the course at email@example.com
Prepay for the first training is available here $150.00 (same button is used for Part II and Part III) This is a one person business, just me, and I keep it simple.
Ability to use a computer, make videos, post videos, and navigate links and work independently.
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 aspecial 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 is newly added. Soon, the cd will be translated into Russian! And, Lidija is going to work on Slovene! There is also 3 hours of meditations made for survivors for free on SoundCloud.com 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 beatlivertumors.org, YogaBear.org, ColonTown on Facebook, ACOR.org, 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 and a better life. We can empower the healers within, with the right tools and bring hope through yoga.