Glencoe native promotes the healing power of yoga
Who: Laura Kupperman
Known for: Yoga therapy for those affected by cancer
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:03AM
GLENCOE — After being diagnosed with breast cancer almost 10 years ago, 46-year-old Glencoe native Laura Kupperman turned to yoga therapy to help heal her physical and emotional pain.
Now cancer-free and living in Boulder, Colo., Kupperman is on a mission to help other cancer patients and survivors discover the healing powers of a unique type of yoga therapy tailored to the needs of those with cancer.
Kupperman recently launched a course designed to educate yoga teachers on a specific therapy designed for cancer patients called “Yoga for Survivors Teacher Intensive,” and is traveling around teaching the course in an effort to bring the therapy to as many communities as possible.
Kupperman, a New Trier High School graduate who earned her master’s degree at Stanford, has been practicing yoga since 1995 and teaching classes since 2002. She was diagnosed with cancer shortly after her wedding in 2003, and underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and a bilateral mastectomy.
She continued practicing yoga during her treatment, and discovered specific postures helped her symptoms. For example, one posture would help her sleep at night, another would reduce nausea and others would help relieve physical pain.
When she went to cancer support groups and listened to other patients discuss the painful symptoms they were experiencing, Kupperman realized she wasn’t having the same symptoms.
“I thought if yoga is helping me this much then why shouldn’t it help others too?” Kupperman said. “I decided this was the path I was going to pursue, and although I didn’t ask for the hand I’d been dealt I was going to make the best of it.”
After being declared cancer-free in 2005, Kupperman was inspired to help others with cancer discover the healing power of yoga therapy and decided to take a rigorous 1,000-hour yoga therapy certification program.
Now a professional yoga therapist, Kupperman founded the Yoga for Survivors Program in 2005, and since then has been teaching yoga therapy classes to cancer patients.
“Looking back to when I had cancer, yoga was my lifeline at that time,” Kupperman said. “It helped me feel better physically, relax mentally and connect to and understand what was going on with my body.”
The therapy Kupperman uses is different than a traditional yoga class because she creates individualized sessions adjusted to the needs of each client.
Word about Kupperman’s Yoga for Survivors Program spread quickly, and it didn’t take long for her to realize there was a need for cancer-patient-centered yoga therapy.
“I started getting inquiries on my website from people from all over the world,” Kupperman said. “I figured the best way I could help them was to start this program.”
Kupperman is traveling throughout the U.S. to teach other yoga teachers about the therapy so they can practice it in their own communities. The 140-hour course includes a 50-hour intensive training session with Kupperman followed by an individual internship period that is completed within one year.
Focused on getting more yoga classes out there so other cancer survivors can share the same benefits, Kupperman’s goal is to give other yoga teachers a strong foundation so they can confidently teach yoga to survivors of any type of cancer.
Her prerequisites for her students are completion of a 200-hour yoga teacher training program, one year or more of regular teaching experience and they must be passionate about working with cancer survivors.
One of the first stops on her tour will be the North Shore area, when she will teach the program at Yogaview in Wilmette from Sept. 6-9 and 14-16. Kupperman was last in the area June 19 when she taught an evening workshop to local yoga teachers.
Deb Wineman, a Glencoe resident and yoga teacher at Yogaview, enjoyed Kupperman’s workshop so much that she plans to attend the September program.
“I’m 44, and cancer is becoming increasingly more common in my age group,” Wineman said. “I thought it would be a really great idea to expand on what I already know about yoga and help people who are undergoing treatment.”
Although Kupperman is cancer-free, she said she will always have her cancer diagnosis hanging over her head, and that yoga is the No. 1 thing that helps her stay connected to her body and relax.
“If we can create something to help survivors feel better and have less anxiety, it will change the way they experience their illness,” Kupperman said.
For more information on Laura Kupperman or her classes in Wilmette this fall, go to http:// laurakupperman.com/.