Yoga transforming the lives of patients and carers

The benefits of yoga for cancer patients and their carers can be seen almost immediately, according to instructor Cate Bell.

Ms Bell, of Self Wellness and Community in Wodonga, said carers in particular often enter in a high state of angst, but are “completely different” people when they leave.

“The best complement I had was from one lady who was really quiet the whole time, and then she sent me an email afterwards saying I made her feel like a normal person,” she said.

“She said, ‘For so long, I haven’t felt normal’. And I think that’s a really big thing and an integral part of why I do yoga.”

Since October last year, Ms Bell has provided weekly yoga sessions for patients and carers of the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre.

The service is provided free of charge through the Wellness Centre, thanks to money raised through the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust Fund.

Ms Bell, who first started practicing yoga at 10 but completed her formal training during the COVID-19 pandemic, said her classes were for everyone, including both men and women during and after treatment.

“I gear every session towards the least mobile person on that day, so classes can vary quite a lot,” she said.

“But always everybody in the class is able to do what is being offered that day.”

Ms Bell said yoga can help activate the lymphatic system and boost immunity, and is particularly beneficial for cancer patients who suffer from lymphedema.

It includes gentle movement, longer restorative holds, meditation and sound healing with crystal singing bowls.

“It gives people a little bit of movement back when maybe they haven’t had movement for a period time,” Ms Bell said.

“But I think more than anything, yoga can help support people emotionally.

“That’s the really big thing that people get out of it that I think is a surprise to a lot of people who haven’t done yoga before.”

Bladder cancer patient Malcolm Purview, of Howlong, has been attending sessions on and off since October.

He hopes yoga will complement the traditional cancer treatment he is receiving, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

“It’s been enjoyable just learning what yoga is all about,” Mr Purview said.

“It’s also been good to meet a few people who have been through a similar experience to you.”

Yoga is provided in the former Visitor Information Centre on Gateway Island, with the space provided free of charge by Self Wellness and Community owner, Sally Laundess.

Ms Laundess lost her mum and well-known Brave Hearts on the Murray member, Di, to breast cancer in 2020.

Classes are held from 2.30 to 4pm on Thursdays.

For further information or to book, contact the Wellness Centre on (02) 6064 1562 or email [email protected]