Yoga: Breast cancer survivors mantra for life 

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, Hanisha Jatwani was shaken with the news. But, she never lost her positivity and her fighting spirit. According to her physical abilities, she continued to perform Yoga during her surgery, chemotherapy and radiation phase. She modified a lot of asanas because of physical restrictions. After recovering, she started teaching Yoga. She now conducts several workshops to teach others

Yoga: Breast cancer survivors mantra for life

“We all have a turning point in life, for me it was being diagnosed with breast cancer. It has changed my life for better. The positivity from Yoga which I got during this period helped me to fight back,” said Hanisha Jatwani, who battled breast cancer detected in the 3rd stage. She is now a professional Yoga trainer at Tata Memorial Hospital for breast cancer patients. She had modified asanas for cancer patients according to their physical ability.

Hanisha was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and that shocked her. “My first reaction was, why me? I regularly used to do Yoga since 1983. I had never thought that I would have to face such situation. But there is a fighter in me. Yoga kept my positivity alive and will power strong,” said Hanisha. And according to her physical abilities, she continued to perform Yoga during her surgery, chemotherapy and radiation phase. She had to modify a lot of asanas because of the physical restrictions.

Cancer can break down a patient both mentally and physically. A study undertaken by Tata Memorial Center with the initiative of its director Dr Rajendra Badwe, has shown that Yoga improves the quality of life for women undergoing medical treatment for breast cancer. Hanisha has been a part of this project since 2009.

“It was not easy to break the ice with patients’ initially. They were reluctant to believe that Yoga can help them. Also, we have a lot of patients from rural and non-Hindu communities. I requested them to try it for a week and see the results. After a week, they used to come and thank me,” Hanisha recalls.

Hanisha Jatwani
Hanisha Jatwani

Some asanas, which require excessive physical activity, were modified to suit the need of the patients who have just undergone surgery. “For example, while doing Pashimottasana there is a risk to put pressure on the stitches. So, we keep pillows on thighs to so that there will be no stress on the stitches. Similarly, we designed sitting Suryanamaskara, which differs a lot from the normal Suryanamaskara,” informed Hanisha.

Patients, who were reluctant at first, had to be stopped sometimes from doing it because of their over enthusiasm.

After recovering, Hanisha started teaching Yoga. Gradually she completed one year professional training course in Yoga and now conducts several workshops to teach propel. “My life changed after breast cancer. Yoga has been instrumental in bringing so much of positivity in it,” she added.

“Yoga has been with us as a heritage. It brings a lot of positivity and energy in to our lives. We decided to prove its significance in the lives of breast cancer patients and the study has shown that Yoga helps breast cancer survivors to reduce fatigue, emotional stress and pain,” said Nishu Singh Goel, a research consultant at TMC.