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How yoga is helping breast cancer patients: ‘I just left feeling better’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Peggy Parker feels at peace when doing yoga.

"I’m completely focused on being here. Close the door of the studio. The world doesn't exist,” said Parker.

Parker's world has been turned upside down, not once, but three times.

"This is my third bout with cancer, 1996, 2012 and 2017,” said Parker.

Peggy Parker

The 66-year-old who works full-time as a contractor in the insurance industry has had her share of surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy.

This time around, yoga is now part of her routine, even during chemo treatments.

A recent study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health shows growing evidence that mind-body therapies such as yoga and meditation can help breast cancer patients relax and lessen the anxiety "during" and "after" treatment. Something Peggy says works for her.

Peggy Parker

"I can de-associate from everything except for right in that class, right with that instructor,” said Parker.

The instructor, Susan Wolski at Glenmore Yoga is a breast cancer survivor. She started yoga 19 years ago when she was going through radiation, and never stopped.

"We who study yoga believe it calms the parasympathetic nervous system, helps it to have some space to heal,” said Wolski.

Susan Wolski

For Wolski, yoga helped her to calm down.

“I felt like I was betrayed by my body and what had happened. So, being able to trust it would make the moves and I can come into this practice and do it and breathe. I just left feeling better,” said Wolski.

For the past 19 years, Wolski has worked with breast cancer patients one-on-one or in a group, helping to find poses that fit them.

"You can come to class. You can take it easy or maybe you can challenge yourself all based on how you’re feeling,” said Wolski.

Wolski also says when someone is first diagnosed their mind is in turmoil. She recommends a more active yoga session.

"Those worries sometimes really bubble up when there's when there's a lot of stillness and quiet,” said Wolski.

Peggy Parker said the yoga has been therapeutic. It even helps her sleep at night. Parker completed her chemo treatments.

She'll start radiation November 13.

VCU Massey Cancer Center offers yoga classes to patients too. To find a class for you, here’s the information you need you can, click here or call 804-828-8478.