Cancer and Yoga


LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a twelve-week, small group program designed for adult cancer survivors. This program fulfills the important need of supporting the increasing number of cancer survivors who find themselves in the transitional period between completing their cancer treatment and the shift to feeling physically and emotionally strong enough to attempt to return to their normal life or their “new normal”. The program is conducted outside of medical facilities to emphasize that LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is about health, not disease.

There are currently 80 YMCA locations that run the LIVESTRONG at the Y programs. Each site can focus on different ways to wellness. In honor of National Yoga Month, we want to highlight a LIVESTRONG at the Y program that uses yoga as a way to heal and strengthen. Visit to view more information about the partnership and to find the closest LIVESTRONG at the Y program near you.

Post by Natalie Peters, Executive Director of the Ashton & Ashton Foundation:

My name is Natalie Peters, I am an Austin native and am the executive director of the Ashton & Ashton Foundation & Doña Yoga, a not-for-profit 501c3, that provides FREE yoga and wellness workshops for recovering cancer patients and their families. I am a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and certified in cancer recovery yoga.

Cancer is a mystery…Yoga is a mystery. One of my yoga teachers that I highly respect and love told me this once. When people ask me about yoga or tell me why they love yoga, they are usually referring to the way yoga makes them feel. People like doing yoga because of how they feel after they are done, but it is so much more than that.

Our bodies begin to heal when our bodies feel safe. With new western medicine, new technologies, and new drugs getting put into someone’s body throughout their cancer treatments, most likely they and their bodies do not feel safe or comfortable. These treatments can cause server side effects and high stress, which does not allow our bodies to heal properly. Yoga, helps makes our bodies feel safe again. It can release stress and helps to keep our environments (bodies) toxin free. Recovery from cancer treatments is a hard road in and of itself, and the more natural healing you can provide to yourself, the more healing the journey will be. Cancer is a mystery…yoga is a mystery, the only difference being, yoga is beautifully enchanting. ~ Namaste

Here are examples of yoga poses I offer in my FREE cancer recovery yoga classes:

Arm Vinyasa Series: Warms up the spine in a comfortable sitting position

  1. Inhale, right arm up behind the head, gently leaning to the left side, exhale release right arm back down
  2. Repeat on other side

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana with Cactus Arms: Props needed, 3 blankets, 2 blocks

  1. Take the 1st blanket and fold it in half. Lay the blanket down on the mat, fringe side away from the body. This blanket is used to support the head and neck.
  2. Take the other 2 blankets and fold them in half twice. Place your Cactus arms on the two blankets supporting your arms and chest.
  3. Lay all the way down, bending the knees and bringing the soles of the feet together, placing one block under each knee for support.

Supported Uttanasana (forward fold): Props needed, 2 blocks

  1. Place the 2 blocks at the front of the matt
  2. Start in a standing position
  3. Inhale reach finger tips to the sky, exhale fold over and place hands the 2 blocks

Supported Cresent Lunge: Props needed, 2 blocks

  1. Place the 2 blocks at the front of the mat
  2. From your supported Uttanasana (photo above), keep both hands on blocks, inhale step right leg back, hold and breath.
  3. Exhale to bring right leg back to meet left
  4. Repeat on other side

Supported Vksasana (Tree Pose): Props needed, 1 block

  1. Place 1 block in the middle of your mat
  2. Place left foot right next to the block and place the ball of the right foot on top of the block
  3. Bring your hands to pray pose. Hold and breath
  4. Repeat on other side

Doña Yoga offers the FREE cancer recovery classes through the LIVESTRONG YMCA Program in Austin, TX. The yoga class is every Thursday at 2p.m. located at the Northwest Family Branch of the YMCA in Austin. Call 512-335-9622 for more information about this class.

For more information about the other FREE cancer recovery classes and Doña Yoga, Please visit our website at


  1. It’s an amazing thing, to center to body and mind to overcome cancer! Kudos to Natalie for all of her efforts.

  2. Kristin Caccavale says:

    What a great resource! It was an honor meeting you in NYC for the training, and I am so proud of what you are doing!

  3. Judy Williams says:

    I really liked the poses, Nat. They are going to help me get back into my yoga routine. Thank you!

  4. tari says:

    Natalie your blog is clear and practical. That is what a cancer patient and survivor needs when they are going thur the ‘fog’ of diagnosis and beyond. Thank you for this extremely helpful presentation and your free classes.
    “Cancer steals your breath away. Yoga gives it back.” Tari Prinster

  5. Sarah says:

    beautiful illustrations of asana to enable integration, acceptance and self-recognition. i especially like your tone of healing and possibility.

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