CALGARY -- People between the ages of 18 and 39 who are recovering from cancer now have access to free online yoga classes courtesy of the University of Calgary.

Dr. Amanda Wurz of the university's faculty of kinesiology, says there is currently a lack of supportive care options for patients in this age group and yoga has the potential to improve their flexibility, range of motion and mood, while lessening anxiety and depression.

"I think sometimes people hear about yoga and have this picture of it in their mind," said Wurz. "But it can offer a lot of benefits and it can be a really useful starting point for people to get into moving their bodies, and they're getting into a mindfulness practice."

The genesis of Wurz’ idea for the program goes back to the doctoral work she performed with young adults affected by cancer.

"Receiving a diagnosis of cancer during those ages (18-39), it's pretty rare, so it's really hard to get young adults into the same physical space to offer programs one on one in person," she said. "When COVID first started and everything started closing down, my supervisor, Dr. Nicole Culos-Reed, and I decided to offer a program that would bring together young adults affected by cancer across Canada so that they could connect the kind of overcoming that barrier of small numbers, while also offering a really supportive care program and opportunity."

This is the third run of the program since spring of last year and it’s proven successful each time. Wurz credits that to the fact there are relatively few supportive care programs for this age group.

"It's particularly timely," explained Wurz. "Young adults affected by cancer may be immune compromised and at a greater risk of some of the complications from COVID-19 so there's heightened stress and anxiety.

"I think having a program that is a container for wellness is just really important right now."

This time around, the program is increasing the number of participants they’ll accept from 45 to 75.

“If there is more interest, we have the capacity to offer additional class time, so as to meet the need, which I think is really important,” Wurz said.

The program is eight weeks long and there are a variety of times and day of the week options to help be flexible with people’s schedules. The sessions are also held over Zoom.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Mondays, Feb. 1 to March 22, 1 to 2 p.m. MST
  • Wednesdays, Feb. 3 to March 24, 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. MST
  • Thursdays, Feb. 4 to March 25, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. MST

Anyone who is interested in joining the program can do so by going online.