Cancer-informed yoga reconnects mind and body after trauma of treatment | CBC News

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Posted on: June 6, 2019

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Michael McLachlan vividly remembers the moment he consciously decided to disconnect his mind and his body during his battle against cancer It was 2 am He was on all fours on his hospital bed overlooking the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon An aggressive form of cancer had invaded McLachlan's central nervous system and formed a tumour at the base of his spine "I had a conversation with myself, which was rather simple," explained McLachlan "My mind couldn't take what was happening So I made the separation between my body and my mind, because I knew my body would be strong enough to take whatever it had to take, but upstairs I couldn't do it" The problem was reconnecting them afterward You need some kind of activity, but intense activity will drain you too quickly So yoga is one activity that seems to be supportive of fatigue - Colleen McBride McLachlan was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Burkitt Lymphoma on Sept 16, 2016 He had surgery the next day to remove the tumour on his spine "It was a funnel of insaneness that was taking place and you have to get caught up with it Within a day, I had five procedures and started chemotherapy right away because my form of cancer can double in less than 18 hours," said McLachlan His battle left him cancer-free but traumatized Physically, he was fatigued and couldn't stand anyone touching his back Mentally, he was shattered and struggled to find peace with what had happened Luckily for McLachlan, Colleen McBride was there to help put the pieces back together McBride is a registered social worker who specializes in trauma therapy She first met McLachlan while working at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre McLachlan calls what McBride did with him, "magic" Michael McLachlan was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Burkitt Lymphoma on Sept 16, 2016 He had surgery the next day to remove the tumour on his spine (Janelle Wallace) Cancer-informed yoga McBride is also a registered yoga teacher and has developed a special cancer care-informed yoga practice It was the perfect aid for McLachlan, because yoga reinforces that mind and body are partners, McBride said "When you've been in a position where we feel like our body has betrayed us by becoming sick when you haven't done anything, the mind stops trusting and disconnects," McBride said "If you need to repair that bond, you go at it slowly, step-by-step, and see what's in there that's meaningful to you People have to find that meaning from within" McBride has spent years researching and developing her yoga practice When you walk into her studio, you see people at different stages of their cancer journey practicing McLachlan credits McBride with reconnecting his mind and body "Colleen's class was a safe environment for me to process what had happened and where I was at in this process

It helped me find peace and acceptance of a new life," he said.

Colleen McBride is a registered social worker who specializes in trauma therapy and also teaches cancer-informed yoga (Janelle Wallace) 'Rest alone isn't really the answer' McBride doesn't consider her yoga class magic, but rather an opportunity to combine her passions and share them with those in need "I just thought this was a great opportunity to blend a few things and do my best to meet people where they're at To let them have the space and time to meet themselves," she said

McBride, who is now in private practice at the Saskatoon Naturopathic Medicine Clinic, said her yoga class also has physical benefits for her participants.

"We know that fatigue is one of the most common side effects of people who have been through cancer treatments

Fatigue is an interesting experience because you need a certain amount of rest, but rest alone isn't really the answer," she said.

"You need some kind of activity, but intense activity will drain you too quickly So yoga is one activity that seems to be supportive of fatigue" McBride and McLachlan have remained friends since their first meeting nearly three years ago McLachlan said there is a unique and lifelong bond between them because of the trauma he experienced and the healing he experienced through McBride's "magic"

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