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Taking yoga classes just got easier for cancer survivors

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Exercise can be enormously beneficial to people going through cancer treatment, helping cope with insomnia, the effects of medication, and fatigue. The discipline is also good for cancer survivors, as they rebound from their illness.

However, those who have been through cancer treatments often can’t afford a gym membership or fitness studio classes. That’s why Halle Tecco started Yoga Bear, a nonprofit organization that allows cancer survivors to take classes at local yoga studios free of charge.

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Why yoga? ‘It’s the community yoga brings,’ says Tecco, based in San Francisco. ‘The principles are all about healing and finding inner happiness, and it’s a really healthy environment to be in.’

Some 125 yoga studios nationwide are Yoga Bear affiliates, with several in Southern California. Those interested in finding member studios can go to the website and click on ‘participants’ to fill out a form that will help volunteers assign them to appropriate studios and classes (the site also has information for studios on how to join). How many free classes are available varies, depending on the studio.

‘We ask if they’ve done yoga before, and what they’re looking for — a more spiritual practice, or a style that’s more vigorous,’ Tecco says. Yoga Bear gives the studio background about the student before class, but students are encouraged to speak with the instructor as well to discuss any modifications that might be needed.

Tecco says that many participants are grateful for the opportunity: ‘They tell us that they feel great physically, that they’re gaining their strength back, and that it’s the best therapy they’ve had. There are a wide variety of benefits.’

-- Jeannine Stein


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