Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Quick Fix -15 min. daily practice.

why this picture...I just like it!

Enjoy this simple sequence of Yoga postures. The first part is with music, and no instruction. It allows you to get into a flowing rhythm of movement that takes you home, back into your body. Then, you will
 be guided into deeper stretches to loosen the hips and shoulders, free the spine, and calm the mind.

If practiced in the morning, this Quick Fix will create the energy needed for the activities of the day ahead. However, an evening practice will help to settle the mind and prepare the body for a good night's sleep.

Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

A reminder of daily medication during treatment.

An everyday practice (15 mins practice)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back to work!

It's wonderful to be back on the mat in the role of teacher again. I'd like to do another video session, but with your help! Please email me, or comment on what sort of a session you would like on the blog. Let me know what you would like to address in your practice.
I'd love the feedback, so that I could be creative, and come up with some ideas for you.

I've just realised that the email is not working at the moment due to changes being made on the website. So, please email me again with any requests for a practice at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Guest Post from Jillian McKee

Yoga Harmonizes Body, Mind and Spirit During Cancer Treatment

Patients practicing at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan

The practice of yoga has been around for centuries, but its popularity has grown dramatically in the West in the last few decades. It's no wonder -- yoga has been shown to have numerous holistic healing benefits. The regular practice of yoga improves one's overall flexibility, balance and concentration. It also lowers stress levels and promotes a calm, balanced, centered feeling. In a nutshell, the practice of yoga promotes a deep and sustained feeling of inner peace in body, mind and spirit.

Much has been said lately about the importance of the ability to "be present" in life. Yoga definitely helps increase this capacity. In fact, it is difficult not to "be present" in one's body while engaged in the practice of yoga. Many of the poses require focused attention, concentration and balance, which encourages keeping one's awareness in the here and now. This practice then naturally carries over into the rest of life, even when the practitioner is not engaged in yoga.

Yoga has proven extremely valuable and helpful in fighting and overcoming cancer. There is no doubt that yoga improves quality of life during cancer treatment, even in terminal cancers such as
mesothelioma. In some cases, it can even raise mesothelioma life expectancy.  In addition to promoting healing, it can also minimize the stress and side effects of chemo and radiation. A gentle yoga practice during cancer treatment helps the body to process and alleviate toxins more efficiently, improves circulation, lowers pain levels and also reduces anxiety and depression.

A recent article on the ABC news website referenced a study funded by the National Cancer Institute's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They reported
that yoga dramatically helped to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments in patients, particularly insomnia and fatigue. From the article:

"Sleep disturbances and fatigue are an enormously burdensome problem among cancer survivors... In the trial, 410 patients who had completed cancer therapy were split into two groups: one that participated in a four-week-long, twice-weekly yoga program, and one that did not. Compared to how they felt beforehand, the survivors who participated in the yoga program afterward reported improvements in sleep quality and fatigue. Yoga participants also used less sleep medication than they did before the program, while non-yoga participants actually increased their use of sleep medication. Patients were enthusiastic about the classes, and 86 percent attended more than half the sessions."

Thank you Jillian for this post.  Nemaste   Sighle

Friday, August 12, 2011


Since I was diagnosed last September with breast cancer I have been inundated with well meaning people, often people I hardly know telling me " to eat this "and "try this form of treatment" - it cured my friend!

It was difficult enough to come to terms with a medical route to recovery without hearing so many other voices of "try this instead".

At one point, while I was feeling delighted to be completing Chemotherapy, someone (who was selling a treatment ) told me that " Chemotherapy and Radiation doesn't work " but I needed this other treatment if I wanted to be well.

I am aware of the fact that the medical route doesn't cure, or even help everyone. Each individual will experience a unique journey with cancer. I know that there are many who have found their way back to health with a change of diet, and complimentary treatments instead of conventional treatments.

However, I get angry about food supplements, and treatments that make all sorts of statements, and can suggest a cure for cancer when often there is no research to back up these claims.
I've always enjoyed a healthy diet, and over the years have explored many wonderful healing arts. Yoga has however remained my first love.

Now, when someone suggests I try this or that I go on the Internet to see and check out a site on quackery! So far... it has saved me a fortune!

Please do let me know if you have experienced pressure of this kind, or whatever views you may have about the post.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Relocation -I'm on the move...

Classes in Contemporary Yoga
will start again from September 18th in my new venue (see below).
Contact me if you would like to book a place on either
 Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday morning:  10.30am-12.30pm.
New- Tuesday Evening Class at 7pm-8.30pm ( good back care routine)
Tel 085 726 5827  or email;
All information will soon be on my website

          The Institute of Psychosocial Medicine
2 Eden Park, Summerhill Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Warrior Spirit - Yoga for confidence & courage

Broken Arrow

This morning I'm reminded of a line, or two from a poem by Danna Faulds;

All you've ever longed for is before you in this moment,
If you dare to draw a breath and whisper - yes!

Some years ago I attended a Shaman's Journey Workshop and did one of the most scary things I've ever done... I broke this arrow on my throat! This morning I decided to come back to the blog with one of my favorite practices, however I needed a push! So, I went looking for the arrow, found it and smiled. It takes great courage, and grace to wake up and choose to live, and love life fully. Warrior spirit is a short sequence I practice on days when my mind handcuffs me, and holds me back from appreciating and living life fully in the present moment.The invitation is to open the mind and allow each breath to bring present moment awareness. Appreciate  the "in" breath as energy/ prana, then phase, soften, and settle into whatever is happening within. Let the prana work its magic. Each " out" breath can be a letting go, a release of tension or holding on to past experiences. Now... find that moment of stillness at the end of the exhalation  - a home coming and wait with patience for the next breath of life to be born.  Nemaste

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Research

Yoga Improves Quality Of Life And Regulates Stress Hormones In Women With Breast Cancer Undergoing Radiation Therapy

Current Article Ratings:

Patient / Public: 5 stars
4.67 (3 votes)
Healthcare Prof: not yet rated

For women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy, yoga offers unique benefits beyond fighting fatigue, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

While simple stretching exercises improved fatigue, patients who participated in yoga that incorporated yogic breathing, postures, meditation and relaxation techniques into their treatment plan experienced improved physical functioning, better general health and lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. They also were better able to find meaning in their cancer experience.

The findings, to be presented next month in an oral session at the 47th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology by Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson, are the latest in an ongoing effort to scientifically validate the age-old belief that mind-body interventions have a beneficial impact on the health of cancer patients. The research was conducted in collaboration with India's largest yoga research institution, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore, India.

The study assessed, for the first time, yoga benefits to cancer patients by comparing their experience with patients in an active control group who integrated simple, generic stretching exercises into their lives. "The combination of mind and body practices that are part of yoga clearly have tremendous potential to help patients manage the psychosocial and physical distress associated with treatment and life after cancer, beyond the benefits of simple stretching," said Cohen.

To conduct the study, 163 women with breast cancer (stage 0-3) averaging 52 years of age were randomized to one of three groups: 1) yoga; 2) simple stretching; or 3) no instruction in yoga or stretching. Participants in the yoga and stretching groups attended sessions specifically tailored to breast cancer patients for one hour three days a week throughout their six weeks of radiation treatment.

Participants were asked to report on their quality of life, including fatigue, daily functioning, benefit finding, depression and spirituality. Saliva samples were collected and electrocardiogram tests were administered at baseline, end of treatment, and at one, three and six months post-treatment.

After completing radiation treatment, only the women in the yoga and stretching groups reported a reduction in fatigue. At one, three and six months after radiation therapy, women who practiced yoga during the treatment period reported greater benefits to physical functioning and general health. They were more likely to perceive positive life changes from their cancer experience than either other group.

Women who practiced yoga also had the steepest decline in their cortisol across the day, indicating that yoga had the ability to regulate this stress hormone. This is particularly important because higher stress hormone levels throughout the day, known as a blunted circadian cortisol rhythm, have been linked to worse outcomes in breast cancer.

According to Cohen, developing a yoga practice also helps patients after completing cancer treatment. "The transition from active therapy back to everyday life can be very stressful as patients no longer receive the same level of medical care and attention. Teaching patients a mind-body technique like yoga as a coping skill can make the transition less difficult."

Source: University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Winds of Change

It's almost a month since I finished Radiotherapy. So...I'm off on holidays to Slovenia. I've a video planned in my head, but now it's time to pack and prepare for my first time away since I was diagnosed last year. Another step forward in my life.
I've been making plans for a return to teaching Yoga in September. A new venue, new beginnings !
Starting on the 27th August with a day of Yoga. It's an opportunity for students to visit and /or attend Yoga in the new room. Details below.
 Winds of Change. A day of Yoga

Sighle Mc Donnell will create a safe, gentle environment to explore the need to adapt to the changing winds of life. This workshop is open to anyone who has the willingness to venture within, and listen to whatever is calling for healing and change.
This is a day to allow Meditation quieten the busy mind, and release us from the pressures of daily life. The flowing Yoga Asanas can evoke openness to our vulnerability. Thus encouraging us to explore the profound relationship between the energy we need to adapt to change and the consciousness to choose wise and creative responses to our life circumstances. Relaxation on the day will help to integrate and settle any insights, or visions of how to move on, forward in our lives.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Simple Meditation to Quieten the Mind

Sometimes, the energy just isn't there to start into a Yoga practice. Meditation can be very useful at times like this, when my mind is busy- yet my body tired. I enjoy the practice of Metta, loving kindness, but this Meditation uses sound to focus the mind on the present moment. It calms and settles the emotions; bringing me to a place of inner peace and serenity. Join me in this short (10 mins) simple practice which is suitable for complete beginners or "old hands" alike. Nemaste.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Feed, Play, Love - Yoga

I often prepared for a class doing a practice like this one. I remember once my youngest son watched me from the window. He then came into the room and with a worried look on his face said " mum, I don't mind you teaching Yoga, but just tell me you don't do that in front of anyone !!! I am putting it up on a blog!!!

When you think of the word Yoga, what does it mean to you?
Some see Yoga as a means of turning the body inside out. Others think of it as a way of being calm and relaxed. To me, Yoga means to much more. This blog is an opportunity for me to introduce some personal gems from this timeless, multi faceted diamond like practice.

The word Yoga means yoke, something that holds, or brings together, so the practice of Yoga sets out to integrate and unite body, mind, and heart. I know the lack of Yoga, when I feel up" in bits", shattered or need to scream. However, ever a short practice draws my busy mind home to my living, ever changing body. The gentle slow movements encourage me to meet myself as I am in this moment and be nourished with compassion. It opens my bodymind to explore, and experiment with the boundaries, and limitations I set for myself. I remember what it is to play.

Over the years, I’ve chosen carefully Yoga training courses that focus more on nourishment, self respect, and enjoyment than physical strength and stamina. Contemporary Yoga introduced me to the freedom and joy of music and dance, another facet of the diamond. I love to prepare myself for the Asanas by moving freely to the beat of the drum (heart), and connect to the impulses and needs of my bodymind. A very important part of my own self care and nourishment is found in a weekly session of free movement with a dance community (Dublin Dance Co-Op).

In the above video Anna Halprin shares her love, and knowledge of dance with us. Still teaching at 85yrs, with a passion that has supported her through life's ups and downs, including a journey with Cancer.  Anna is truly an inspiration to us all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Acupuncture - it's role in my Cancer treatment.

Mr Nicholas Power Lic.Ac.Dip.Ac H.Dip Psych.MHGI.

 I found Acupunture to be a great support to me over the last year. Nick Power gave me a treatment after each cycle of Chemotherapy, in the comfort of my own home. He has written this post explaining the role of Acupuncture in the treatment of Cancer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yoga- for when you feel like screaming!

I'm finding Radiotherapy a lot less difficult than Chemotherapy, however my mind is racing ahead of my body! I want to be busy, doing all the things I used to do, yet I know that my body is tired and needs rest.

Life is precious, and I want to be out there living it, resting can seem like a waste of time, instead of an investment! This internal conflict makes me want to scream!'s back to the mat, I'm using this 10 min. practice to safely release,and settle the anger and frustration I feel. No need to carry the weight of unresolved feelings into this wonderful new day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Caring for nails - during Chemo


Helpful tip

Before I started Chemo I was made aware of the fact that my nails would grow very slowly. That they could darken, become brittle and crack. White lines could appear across them, and sometimes nails loosen and fall out. I took great care of my nails over that time, by oiling them each evening with Neem oil. I wore plastic gloves doing housework. However, with each cycle of Chemo my nails became more sensitive and painful. Now that it's over, two of my fingernails are coming away from the skin...difficult to manage, and very unsightly!!!

 At my last Chemo session, a nurse told me that if I had worn dark coloured nail varnish from the beginning it could have made a big differance. That sunlight
 effects the nails on Chemo. It's too late to save my nails, but I hope this tip will be of help to others. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Yoga - for stiff joints.


One of the effects of Chemotherapy has been a gradual stiffening up of the joints. It's only now that I'm really beginning to feel it. Join me in a gentle floor Yoga session, to help loosen up the body, and bring about greater flexibility and ease. Try using Ujjayi breathing (see previous videos) to deepen the practice. This session will help to create energy and vitality for the day ahead. Do allow yourself 10-15 mins. of Savasana (relaxation) to complete the session. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


                                   Love means to look at yourself
                                   The way one looks at distant things
                                   For you are only one thing among many,
                                   And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
                                  Without knowing it, from various ills-
                                  A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

                                                                               Czeslaw Milosz


Friday, March 25, 2011

Being Present

A Yoga Master used to walk over to his students and hit them, for no reason. After a while, the students would spend most of their time tense, afraid, expecting to get hit, and ready to ward off the next blow even before it came. After they got themselves all worked up, spending their time in class running around feeling fearful, tense, and dreading the next blow, the Yogi would tell them they were ready to learn the lesson.

 “You can either spend all your time tense, anticipating and dreading the pain, trying to control and deal with it before it arrived, or you can stay peaceful and serene, knowing a certain amount of pain will always be present in life. Then wait until it happens and trust your self to deal with the pain as it comes up”.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Yoga Mat – it's place in my Cancer care

The following is an article I wrote for Journeying beyond Breast Cancer a great resource and excellent blog by Marie Ennis O'Connor


A brief smile with eye contact is made. The wrist band is held up and read back to me. I answer “yes” to give permission to whatever procedure follows. It might be to take blood, put up an IV line, or prepare for theatre. In this moment my life’s story has been reduced to these 3 short lines on the band, which hopefully will keep me safe as I venture into scary territory and place my trust in these health professionals.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Yoga Session to deal with some side effects from Chemo

                                 The Lotus


The Lotus flower is the emblem of Yoga. It symbloizes our spititual evolution. The roots thrive in muddy dirty water - our lower nature, the stem rises up to the surface - our intuitive search, and the flower blossoms in sunlight- self realization. A short practice follows to deal with side effects from Chemotherapy.

Introduction to the session - dealing with some side effects from Chemo.

Everyone  reacts to Chemotherapy differently, that's true. However, there are common side effects that most people experience. A day before my first treatment, an oncology nurse sat me down and went through these side effects. I was alone, and I later wished that someone had been with me. I suppose it hadn't dawned on me that they had to inform me of the worst possibilities. It was a lot to take in, and I felt unsure as to what was actually said, and what I had heard. Since then, I've found that it is helpful to bring someone with me, and then see what they heard, which is very often very different than what I heard, and maybe also different than was actually said!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yoga after 2nd treatment.

                                                  The first of my scarfs.

It 's amazing really how quickly I've adjusted to my new head dress! Before starting Chemo I made the trip to the hairdressers to buy a wig. it's a good look-a-like of  my old hair style, and it sits on a stand gathering dust. Maybe when my hair begins to grow back I'll be ready to wear it!

An introduction to Yoga after the first 2 difficult cycles of Chemo.


I've just discovered that my passport is out of date. what would I do if I had no wig?

The following short session is suitable for anyone who would like to strengthen up the core muscles in the body.