Yoga and Meditation for Cancer Patients
To promote relaxation and provide a gentle exercise regimen, El Camino Hospital o ers a free, weekly, hour-long yoga and meditation class for cancer patients and their caregivers. “It’s about staying calm and reducing stress,” says Community Outreach Coordinator Natalie McQueen. “By the time I get out, I’m so relaxed, I feel like I’ve had a massage.”
Evelyn Wolf, a certified yoga teacher and massage therapist, leads the class, which meets at the Mountain View campus and is open to students of all levels. “One of the real issues for cancer patients is how powerless you feel,” McQueen says. “But taking these classes is something you do have control over. You have a hand in managing your anxiety, as well as helping your family members.”
Harnessing Your Chi
Many elements of Eastern medicine have gained mainstream acceptance in the United States, and for local patients with chronic conditions, a Chinese tradition is gaining traction.
Qigong - or “life energy cultivation” is an ancient Chinese practice combining elements of martial arts, meditation and conscious breathing. El Camino Hospital has been offering a weekly qigong class for the past two years and now has both a beginner and a more advanced course for returning students.
“There’s been lots of research on the health benefits of qigong,” says Jean Yu, the manager of El Camino’s Chinese Health Initiative. According to Yu, qigong has been shown to help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure—a health issue that is pronounced in the Bay Area’s Chinese population. Currently, the classes are taught only in Mandarin, but Yu says an English-speaking version may be in the works.
The Healing Arts
A pair of initiatives o ered through El Camino’s Healing Arts program is brightening things up around the hospital and at the same time helping patients and caregivers fight stress.
Through the Music as Medicine program, trained musicians visit patients in their rooms to play by their bedside or in the hospital’s halls. Another program, Healing Through the Performing Arts, invites musicians to perform in the hospital’s atrium. The idea behind both programs is to use music to foster a soothing and therapeutic atmosphere for patients, families and visitors. “When you’re in the hospital, your whole life changes,” says the Rev. John Harrison, El Camino’s chaplain and director of spiritual care. “Music can help lift your mood, and it’s also something patients can look forward to.”
In addition, the Healing Arts program offers art-therapy classes as well a pet-therapy program, which brings licensed therapy dogs into the hospital to supply major doses of puppy love.
For more information see our Complementary Wellness Services section or call 650-988-7568
This article first appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of the El Camino Hospital Health Beat magazine.