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How yoga can help women affected by breast cancer

Yogini rosa Retreat, cancer

13 jul 2017 by Monique Castiglione

A personal story from Monique Castiglione, who used her experience of cancer to help and support others through special retreats and the Yogini rosa Foundation.

Please read below about how you can nominate someone for a scholarship to attend a Yogini rosa retreat, supported by Esther Ekhart and EkhartYoga

I was 28 years old when I first heard that I had breast cancer. It hit me in the face. What next? After research in hospital I started the treatment. Operations, chemotherapy and radiation followed. I went through it, I did it, I fought because I had no other choice... 

After the treatment, my yoga practice really helped me to deal with the physical and mental effects of the disease and the treatment. At the time I wanted to do something for young cancer patients and survivors. I thought of organising a nice holiday for people who went through the same process. An organisation was set up, but it wasn't put into action.

Together with my partner, who stood by me all the time, we gradually moved on. We stepped up onto the career ladder and were surprised (despite 5 years of hormone therapy) to have a beautiful daughter. 

Then, 18 years later, I heard for the second time I had breast cancer - but now I had a five-year old daughter! That was a different story. Again, I didn’t have any other choice but to fight. I survived, but this time my mind went into overdrive. I was exhausted and feeling negative about almost everything. It was a tough point in my life.

Mindfulness and yoga for cancer patients

Fortunately, a special mindfulness program for cancer patients crossed my path. That was a blessing and a life-changing moment as it helped me to get out of the negative spiral. This experience encouraged me to deepen my yoga practice. I started my first yoga teacher training course, a second and third training followed quickly afterwards.

The last few years have been about deepening my practice, understanding anatomy, eating healthier food, practising mindfulness and meditation. This journey has helped me to see and to accept what the cancer and the treatment did to my body and mind. It also helped me to discover who I really am and understand what I wanted to do. 

This journey has helped me to see and to accept what the cancer and the treatment did to my body and mind. It also helped me to discover who I really am and understand what I wanted to do.

Returning to strength and sharing this with others

This mixture of yoga and mindfulness is something that I wanted to share with others. I want women like me (a yogini) – diagnosed with breast cancer (rosa) – to return to their strength. With the help of a retreat full of yoga, mindfulness, massages, healthy food and the natural healing aspect of like-minded people together in a safe place surrounded by nature, I wish for these women to find themselves again; to find out who they really are, rather than 'the woman with breast cancer’ and accept the effects of the disease. 

I want women like me  – diagnosed with breast cancer (rosa) – to return to their strength. I wish for these women to find themselves again, to find out who they really are rather than 'the woman with breast cancer’.

Yogini rosa Retreats - nominate someone for a scholarship

My partner and I decided to finish what we began to create 18 years ago - a special retreat for women who have been affected by breast cancer. And so Yogini rosa Retreats was born.

Yogini rosa Retreats are designed for women who are confronted with breast cancer. Over the course of 7 days, we offer activities, workshops and treatments specially designed to help your body and mind cope with the effects of the disease. Spending time with other women on the same journey can bring a different understanding, strength and energy, and can be hugely beneficial in the process of dealing with breast cancer. 

The retreat is organised by an expert team of women and is supported by volunteers - some of whom have experienced the effects of the disease and the treatment themselves. We host the Yogini rosa Retreats in a beautiful finca called Mandala de Masca, set within 6 hectares of nature on the island of Tenerife. We also welcome yogis from all over the world for regular retreats.

We have been blessed with the support of the many new friends and yoga teachers who use the Mandala de Masca retreat center as the location for their own retreats. The income these retreats generates directly supports the work of the Yogini rosa Foundation and covers some of its fixed costs.

The Yogini rosa Foundation

We started the Yogini rosa Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to raise funds to provide full or partial scholarships for women to take part in a Yogini rosa Retreat. Another important task for the Yogini rosa Foundation is to connect with women who could benefit from the experience of a Yogini rosa Retreat.

How Esther Ekhart became involved as an Ambassador

Esther was touched by the intention of the Yogini rosa Foundation and the retreats. She wanted to support the initiative and is running an intensive yoga and meditation retreat with us in October 2017 which will support the Foundation.

When Esther visited us in Tenerife, new plans were born and she decided to become an ambassador of the Yogini rosa Foundation. The scope and size of Esther’s network will be instrumental to reach out to more women across internationally, to let them know of the existence of the special Yogini rosa Retreats, dedicated to support them after their experience of breast cancer.

With Esther as Ambassador we believe we are also better equipped to reach out to other new partners inside and outside the yoga world. To enable the foundation to support and empower as many women as we can through our special and dedicated retreats.

Esther says -
I was drawn to Monique and her cause because, whilst listening to her story one night over dinner, I realised again what yoga can do for people. I also realised that this could easily be me, or my sisters, or loved ones - and I would love to be able to help them cope with having cancer and its after-effects with yoga and meditation. So being able to help Monique reach more women who could benefit from the retreats she organises really appealed to me.

How you can help the Yogini rosa Foundation

1 Nominate someone (or yourself) for the retreat scholarship

With the support and the income from Esther's regular retreats, Yogina rosa will grant a special scholarship to a woman from the EkhartYoga family to join the Yogini rose Retreat 25th October to 1st November in Tenerife. Are you - or do you know - a yogini that could benefit from the experience and could use some extra support to attend a Yogini rosa Retreat? Click here and find out how it works. 

2 Spread the word about the Foundation

Please like and share the Yogini rosa Facebook page to help us to spread the word to women who may benefit from these retreat scholarships.

If you want to learn more about a Yogini rosa Retreat or if you want to support the initiative, please go to the Yogini rosa website

Find Monique and Yogini rosa on Facebook @yoginirosa or @Mandala de Masca

Esther's workshops and retreats

Visit Esther Ekhart's Teacher page to find out more about the Intensive Yoga and Meditation retreat which will support the Foundation's work and see all her other workshops and recent classes.

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