Topic #4.3 –yoga4cancer Poses Part 2

1) Reading Assignment

  • Please read Manual #4.3.

2) Video Assignment

Eagle Pose

One is Eagle pose, often considered an advanced complex balance. However advanced, inherent benefits make it a wonderful choice for cancer survivors, If taught well, the results are many. Only some are lymph pumping, bone and muscle building, enhanced balance, focus, confidence and fun. Achieving these results is the result of detailed teaching.

Step Back

Fundamental to the yoga4cancer methodology is the block test, step back using blocks, and modified sun salutation. Foundational to the power and success of these sequences is clear understanding of how to match breath with movement and the overall importance of the spine in maximizing immune system health. Again, achieving these results is detailed teaching.


  • Observe how bringing the floor to the hands with blocks for chair kept the students chest open and gaze forward.
  • Observe stepping back to the lunge position with an inhale the spine stayed in the relative same normal spinal curves and avoided a forward ‘bend’.
  • Observe the control the student had when lowering the knee to the mat on an exhale.
  • Observe the clarity, strength and control the student had when coming forward to chair on an exhale.
  • Observe how naturally the inhale from chair returned the student to stand tall.
  • Eagle pose is held in classical yoga for multiple counts. Do you see how adding a ‘vinyasa element’ created a lymph pump, as well as, a breath awareness?
  • In Eagle pose, even if a student needs the support of the wall, are the same benefits achievable?


The benefits of restorative yoga poses are profound and universal, but only if they are properly supported to help elicit the relaxation response in each individual. Like cancer, every ‘body’ is unique. Teaching restorative yoga at first glance seems easier than teaching active poses or vinyasa. However, the challenge lies in the teacher’s ability to understand the goal of the pose, observe the student’s body, and prop with purpose.

The benefits of restorative yoga for cancer survivors adds an additional layer of complexity because survivors may be unable to fully relax, get comfortable and may be afraid to ask or say something when feeling discomfort. Side effects of treatment coupled with pre-existing conditions become ongoing daily struggles. Often survivors are not aware when unnecessary muscular engagement is happening, nor understand how to position their body to experience complete relaxation.

The key is to identify signs of stress, then guide students with clear instructions on propping and support.  Here are three common restorative poses that often need minor adjustments to best serve the cancer community.

Chill Out versus Child’s Pose

Restorative Cobbler

Restorative Fish


  1. What is the ‘goal’ / intended benefit of each restorative pose?
  2. The video allows you to take a closer look at the student, did you see the same ‘spots’ of discomfort Tari saw?
  3. Was the propping with purpose matched to the student’s body or the intended pose benefit, or both?