Melissa Anderson Morgan is the perfect person to introduce Yoga for Cancer to the STAUNTON-AUGUSTA FAMILY YMCA.
She loves group fitness.
And ever since she was a towel-folding aerobics instructor at the old Tams Street location, Anderson Morgan has loved the STAUNTON-AUGUSTA FAMILY YMCA, its staff and its members.
And she’s also passionate about helping people through their journeys with cancer.
With good reason.
“I really had no experience with cancer in my own family until last year just before the pandemic,” Anderson Morgan said. “A close family member of mine had a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. And as anyone who has sat across from a physician and heard those words knows, it just feels like the world is going to open up and you’re just going to fall through. It’s just such a shock to hear.”
In Anderson Morgan’s case, the story has a happy ending.
“That family member is now considered cancer free after a very intense year of treatments,” she said. “I knew at some point in that journey I needed to give back to people whose lives were touched by cancer. The way I knew best – something I’m passionate about and have been doing my entire life – is being involved in fitness and movement. Yoga specifically was a practice that I used as a caregiver and family member to get through that really tough time.”
To give back, Anderson Morgan became certified as a trained teacher in the yoga4cancer methodology.
“It’s specific in that it takes a traditional Vinyasa practice, and it’s been modified so that the poses, the posture and the breathing overall has been aligned with what we know medically and scientifically about the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery,” she said.
The physical movements have been adjusted accordingly for these realities.
“Instead of doing something like a step back to down dog, we might use blocks to step back into aligned position and then raise up into a crescent lunge with the arms in a cactus shape,” Anderson Morgan said. “Often that’s done because of the side effects including a limited range of motion.”
Yoga for Cancer will come to the YMCA in September. YMCA fitness director Wendy Shutty is glad to have Anderson Morgan introducing the new program to the YMCA.
“To be able to offer a program like this can help cancer patients and survivors feel better physically and emotionally is something our YMCA feels the need to provide for our community,” Shutty said.
Anderson Morgan encourages everyone who meets the criteria to sign up for this important class.
“It’s a stress management technique essentially at a very different level, which is good for everyone but certainly those going through treatment and post-treatment survivorship,” Anderson Morgan said. “The other thing that is very specific to cancer is how yoga has been associated with strengthening the lymph system. The lymph system removes things that are bad for the body, things that cause disease and conditions that people are dealing with.
“A healthy lymph system is part of a healthy immune system. That is important certainly for people who have gone through cancer treatment or are in survivorship post treatment. It helps them rebuild that immune system that has been compromised by cancer itself or the treatment of cancer.”
To learn more, contact Anderson Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch this three-part story of Anderson Morgan’s story.