SARANAC LAKE - Confronting a disease as serious as cancer can create added stress at a time when healing demands a great deal of energy and perseverance.
The staff of the Merrill Oncology Department at Adirondack Medical Center recognize the challenges their patients and family face, and are offering a Guided Imagery and Gentle Restorative Yoga program to strengthen both mind and body.
"Strength for Healing" is being offered free to patients, their family members and caregivers, thanks to a generous grant from the Adirondack Medical Center Foundation.
The “Strength for Healing” program offered by the Merrill Oncology Center at AMC is a collaborative effort between Diane Bryjak, a counseling psychologist/licensed marriage and family therapist certified in Guided Imagery; Gina DuMond, RN, Merrill Oncology Center; and Mary Bartel, a Certified Structural Yoga Therapist and Professional Level Structural and Kripalu Hatha Yoga Instructor. The program is available to patients, their families and caregivers of the cancer center.
(Photo courtesy of Adirondack Medical Center)
Guided Imagery is based on the concept that a person's mind and body are connected. The way people think and visualize themselves has a profound impact on the body, mind and spirit. For example, worry leads to stress and as a result undermines the immune system, diminishing one's ability to relax, sleep soundly and eat properly. However, through guided imagery an individual whose images are beset by worry can learn to engage in positive calming visualizations to enhance physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Guided and interactive imagery as well as visualization have been shown to affect almost all major bodily systems including respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, cell metabolic rates, gastrointestinal mobility and secretion, sexual function, cortisol levels, blood lipids, and immune responsiveness.
The University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center website states, "A review of 46 studies conducted from 1966-1998 by the American Cancer Society found that guided imagery was effective in managing stress, anxiety, depression, pain and the side effects of chemotherapy. A recent randomized clinical trial involving women with early stage breast cancer found guided imagery was also useful for easing anxiety related to radiation therapy, including fears about the equipment, surgical pain and recurrence of cancer."
Gentle and restorative Yoga classes seek to unwind and heal the physical and emotional body. In these classes, participants will learn and experience relaxation and meditation techniques, breathing exercises, slow moving yogic exercises and stretching and supported restorative yoga postures.
Participants will be able to take what they learn in class into a home practice for continued self-nurturing and healing. Participants are encouraged to work at their own pace and listen to their bodies. No prior yoga experience is necessary.
Studies have shown the benefits of yoga for everyone are improved physical fitness, lower levels of stress, and increased feelings of relaxation and well being. For our cancer patients and their caregivers the potential benefits include relief of anxiety and depression, stress reduction, strengthening the immune system, reduced pain and suffering and improved sleep.
Overseeing the program are Mary Bartel, a Certified Structural Yoga Therapist and Professional Level Structural and Kripalu Hatha Yoga Instructor, and Diane Bryjak, a counseling psychologist/licensed marriage and family therapist certified in Guided Imagery. The program will be offered at Inner Quest Yoga & Wellness Center in Saranac Lake, of which Mary is the owner and director. Participants can sign up for the program in a group session, one on one, or both.
For more information, contact the Merrill Oncology Center at 897-2375.