The Iowa Cancer Consortium July 2021 Newsletter featured the story of a six-year breast cancer survivor who found adapted yoga practices helped her to navigate the challenges her diagnosis brought into her everyday life. That story ended up in the hands of Heather Coffman, Wellness Director at the Ottumwa Family YMCA. Two months later, the YMCA is in the process of developing an adaptive yoga program of its own.

“We wanted to start this program to help improve the quality of life for individuals going through cancer treatment and post-treatment,” Coffman shared. The program will feature restorative yoga classes twice per week. Yoga poses are held for longer durations using yoga props or blocks in this unique style of yoga class. The practice is considered one of deep relaxation and emphasizes the meditative component of yoga.

The benefits of the program will go far beyond the physical movement, Coffman continued. “We also know the level of social support that comes with taking a yoga class. We hope participants can improve their quality of life, as well as find a support system among other participants in the class.”

Fitness Instructor Candy Fisher recently completed specialized training in restorative yoga and will be leading the classes for the YMCA. Coffman and her fitness team hope to have five to ten participants in the first session of yoga classes. “That group size will allow us to give every participant the focus they need. We can really help tailor the classes to each participant at that group size,” she said, speaking of the first classes that will begin in October 2021.

Thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Legacy Foundation’s Robert F. McCune Endowment Fund, cancer patients and survivors will be able to participate in the classes at no cost, regardless of YMCA membership status. Interested participants can contact Heather Coffman at 641-684-6571 x26 or heather@ottumwaymca.com to register.

The Robert F. McCune Endowment is a restricted endowment where the investment income is dispersed to assist the cancer patients, facilities, and programs of the City of Ottumwa and Wapello County. Applications are accepted at any time.