How does yoga help the healing process?

When you step into a yoga practice that is really attuned to your physical and emotional needs, you feel safe, you can deeply relax, and the mind can go into a neutral space to interrupt usual patterns of worried thinking or self judgment.

In order to heal there has to be a moment of neutrality, an opportunity to become the observer of your experience instead of thinking you can control everything.

Yoga allows people to observe how much pressure they put on themselves and experiment with letting it go, even if just for the duration of the class. It helps them move their bodies to discharge anger, fear and pain.

Kundalini Yoga is known as the yoga of awareness and uses movement, breath work, mantra, and meditation to help you connect to your body, mind, energy and true Self.

“For some people in class, this is the first time they have tried yoga, but they are with a tribe of others who have walked through fire. To be in that environment and to know your teacher and fellow students know what it’s like and are still doing the practices together and rejoicing is powerful.”

~ Judy, Program Participant

JoyBoots & Research

Kirtan Kriya is a meditation that can help as we live through interesting times to bring stability to the mind and calm to the nervous system.

I conceptualized and collaborated with Ashley Henneghan, NP, PhD, on testing the impact of this meditation on people experiencing chemo brain and I’m excited to share this article detailing the research.

I met Ashley in 2016, by helping her recruit JoyBooters for her study on the prevalence and impact of chemo brain on breast cancer survivors at the University of Texas School of Nursing, where she is now an Associate Professor and Researcher, and Founder of the Henneghan Lab: Cognitive Health Initiative for Cancer Survivors.

We were both yoga and meditation practitioners and began to discuss collaborating to research meditation, specifically Kirtan Kriya, as an effective intervention for cognitive impairment (chemo brain).

Based on prior research from UCLA showing that Kirtan Kriya reduced inflammation and improved memory and cognitive function, and from my own experience practicing and teaching it, I suggested we study its measurable impact on people suffering from chemo brain. See this recent article from UCLA:

Ashley is a leading researcher on quality of life and wellness after cancer and always has several studies happening at once. Nevertheless, she found a way to get funding for a pilot study on the impact of Kirtan Kriya on post-chemotherapy breast cancer survivors.

My role was to teach the meditations, explore questions or resistances to daily practice with the participants, and check in on them regularly.

Interestingly, the study also found that perceived cognitive changes following (breast) cancer treatment are multifactorial. Higher stress levels, loneliness, daytime sleepiness, and poorer sleep quality are linked to worse perceived cognitive functioning. Also, stress, loneliness, and sleep quality may affect cognitive functioning through a shared psychobiological pathway.

Interventions targeting stress, loneliness, and sleep quality may also improve perceived cognitive functioning in (breast) cancer survivors.

These are difficult challenges. JoyBooter programs can be a powerful tool to address many of these symptoms through community, yoga movement, processing traumatic moments together, and learning meditation tools.

Check out more research articles and resources at Henneghan Lab: Cognitive Health Initiative for Cancer Survivors.