Experience the Mental and Physical Benefits of Yoga Therapy 

4 min read  |  June 18, 2024  | 

Cancer survivor practices yoga therapy to promote healing and well-being.

Michael Tyler outside of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami

Michael Tyler, 68, always maintained a healthy lifestyle, eating right and exercising regularly. Despite his efforts, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2020. Now in remission, he is committed to staying as healthy as possible and has embraced yoga therapy to help nurture his mind, body and spirit.

“I have always prioritized my health and wellness,” says Tyler. “Even though I did everything right, I still got cancer.” 

He began an aggressive treatment plan that included a radical cystectomy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Too sick to return to work, he retired after 29 years as a college professor. 

“My whole life changed,” says Tyler. “After adjusting to my new normal, I sought ways to continue doing what I love and opened my mind to new experiences.”

To help with his recovery, he used Sylvester’s Cancer Support Services, most of which are complementary to all patients. These include nutrition, acupuncture, weightlifting, massage and music therapy. Last year, he added yoga therapy. 

While I truly believe all of these cancer support services have kept me alive, both physically and mentally, there is something extra special about yoga therapy. I encourage all cancer patients to try it.

Michael Tyler, patient at Sylvester

While traditional yoga focuses on harmonizing the body through breathing techniques and poses, yoga therapy also focuses on treating specific health conditions to improve physical health and overall well-being. Most participants come to learn yoga techniques, as well as to get help with or relief from some symptom or health condition that is troubling them.

Beatriz Moldanado is a yoga teacher at Sylvester.

“Yoga therapy is a complementary, holistic practice that can help heal and alleviate conditions and cancer treatment-related side-effects, such as pain, fatigue, sleep problems, neuropathy and lymphedema,” says Beatriz Maldonado, a certified E-RYT500 yoga teacher and therapist, who instructs Sylvester’s yoga classes. “It can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and improve mobility, flexibility, balance and strength. Many of our patients have stated that yoga changed their lives for the better.”

Sylvester’s yoga therapy sessions, free for its cancer survivors, are tailored to each individual’s physical abilities, energy levels and emotional state. Survivors are able to explore their own personal growth and physical wellness in a safe and nurturing environment that encourages healing and improves vitality.

Tyler says it is a wonderful experience to practice yoga therapy with other cancer survivors. 

“It is amazing to be in such a safe, warm and upbeat environment,” says Tyler.  “We form a special bond, as we support and encourage each other without discussing our cancers. We also have a lot of fun.”

He admits he was initially apprehensive about his abilities and is grateful he tried it.

“I thought it would be physically difficult and was surprised I had the flexibility to do most poses,” says Tyler. “I typically begin class in pain but always leave feeling better and stronger. I have taken several trips abroad, walking 25,000 steps daily, both up and down hills. I never thought that would be possible again and I owe it all to yoga.”

Tyler believes yoga has made him a more positive person.

“Yoga fosters peace and encourages you to be loving and caring. It also helps you learn how to calm your mind and emotions,” says Tyler. “I now have a more positive outlook on life, which I believe has helped my healing.”

He explains that yoga is also a way of showing love for yourself and your body.

“It is important to me to take an active role in my own healing process,” says Tyler. “By taking care of myself, I have a greater chance of staying in remission.”

Tyler says he loves life and plans to live a long time.

“I want to spend time with my wife, Maria, and kids, continue to travel, resume teaching and do all the other things I love,” says Tyler.  “Yoga will always be part of my life to help make it all possible.”

Debby Teich is a contributor to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Sylvester offers classes in English and Spanish. There is a rooftop chair yoga and sound bowls class on the first Friday of every month for Sylvester cancer patients and survivors at the Lennar Foundation Medical Center. Sylvester also offers weekly hybrid chair yoga classes on Mondays and Thursdays for Sylvester patients, survivors and caregivers, both on Zoom and in person at the Sylvester Medical Office Building. For more information or to sign up, contact Beatriz Maldonado at [email protected].

Tags: cancer care in Miami, cancer support, healing benefits of yoga, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

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