347: Yoga in the Cancer Community with Tyla Arnason

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally, responsible for nearly 1 in 6 (almost 10 million) deaths in 2020. Millions more are diagnosed and survive cancer annually. As yoga teachers, we may have someone in our class who is from the cancer community or we may be interested in learning more about how we can better support someone dealing with cancer. Tyla Arnason is an expert in this area and has some insights about teaching yoga in the cancer community.

Tyla is an accomplished yoga therapist who has been named a Top Ten Yoga Instructor in Calgary. She has spent the last 15 years working in partnership with the University of Calgary’s Health & Wellness Lab in developing protocols used in programming for the cancer community and the research they supported. Tyla supports those with cancer, care teams, and yoga instructors through her specialized yoga therapy protocols, classes, and trainings. She describes herself as a movement optimist, and her philosophy is that with classes tailored to the individual, yoga can be made accessible to everyone and all students can become more confident movers. 

Tyla answers some questions yoga teachers often have, including: “How do I keep a student with cancer safe in a yoga class?” and “How can I gain the confidence to work with people from the cancer community?”. She also addresses specific questions about supporting students with different types of cancers, students who use compression garments, the impacts of post treatment meds, and much more.

Key Takeaways:

[3:11] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Tyla Arnason.

[7:24] What does Tyla do and who does she do it for?

[9:59] What got Tyla into doing her work in the cancer community?

[11:13] What are some things Tyla wishes she would have known about working with someone who has a cancer diagnosis?

“I was never too overly confident and so that allowed me to stay humble and to stay curious and to really recognize that I was not a cancer expert.” ~ Tyla Arnason

[14:31] What are some things a yoga teacher could say if a student shares that they have/had cancer?

“Specifically to cancer, I think that what teachers really want to understand is that every single diagnosis is different.” ~ Tyla Arnason

[17:47] What are some things yoga teachers need to know about keeping students with a cancer diagnosis safe in their class?

“Sometimes yoga teachers, we could do ourselves a service by sitting for a moment and really considering what information do I need to gather in this moment?  Because we don’t need every single answer.” ~ Tyla Arnason

[21:04] What does the training for yoga teachers who want to get a basic knowledge about working with the cancer community look like?

[22:42] What are some key things Tyla covers with yoga teachers in a training specific to cancer?

[26:03] Tyla shares some examples of how she might modify some yoga poses to cater to students with different needs.

“You have to really be able to change things quickly on the fly.” ~ Tyla Arnason

[30:17] Shannon pops in to share a little about a recent Q&A session with Eddie of OfferingTree.

[31:47] What is neuropathy and what kind of modifications are available for people dealing with that?

[36:41] How does Tyla respond when people tell her they can’t do yoga or are not allowed to do yoga?

[44:10] Communicating and working with the healthcare team can be extremely helpful in supporting someone with a cancer diagnosis.

[48:18] What does Tyla recommend if a yoga teacher gets a cancer diagnosis?

[52:27] Where can you connect with Tyla and learn more from her?

[56:55] Shannon shares some of her biggest takeaways from this conversation with Tyla.


Gratitude to our Sponsors, OfferingTree and Pelvic Health Professionals.

OfferingTree Logo

Pelvic Health Professionals