Morning Mix


Dr. Bitner talks about the power of Yoga and Tai Chi

Posted at 12:30 PM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 12:30:23-04

Are you one of those people who scrunch your nose at the thought of trying Yoga or Tai Chi? Even nationally recognized menopause specialist, Dr. Diana Bitner, admits that she also had hesitations. However, well into doing Yoga now for quite sometime, she said it's been wonderful for her health. Did you know that Yoga actually goes back thousands of years?

For our Women Talk Wednesday segment, Dr. Bitner brought along instructor Denise Karsen, who teaches Yoga at Lemmen Holten Cancer Pavilion. Yoga is great for someone going through cancer treatment or even recovering from surgery. It can be fast-moving between poses or more of a practice session with a series of poses lasting longer each time, with a focus on breathing and deep stretches.

Yoga is not a religion, but a health practice, Bitner explained. It has many benefits from physical to psychological and emotional.

Mental Benefits

  • Improved focus
  • Clarity of thought
  • A calm and relaxed mind
  • More patience and understanding
  • Less susceptibility to stress
  • Balanced approach to conflict

Physical Benefits

  • Improved immune system
  • Greater flexibility
  • Postural awareness
  • More effective use of the body/better balance
  • Increased energy
  • Less stress-induced pains

How specifically does it help cancer patients? Chemotherapy can cause a woman to go into premature menopause and increase all the symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep issues, mood changes and joint pain. Yoga can help them sleep and feel less anxious, along with helping with the pain.

Tai Chi is more of a "moving meditation" in which participants perform a series of slow, graceful motions that often resemble movements in nature. People will concentrate on their deep breathing and precise posture, which helps to relax the mind and strengthen the body.

Recent studies have shown that Tai Chi enhances the immune system and relieves pain, anxiety and stress n cancer patients and survivors. Research is ongoing.

Cancer patients can take part in Restorative Yoga Classes on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30p.m. to 6:30p.m. at Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion. To register, call 616.486.6180.

To set up an appointment with Dr. Bitner or her menopause specialist team, call 616.267.8520. Her office is located at 3800 Lake Michigan Dr. NW Suite A. Make sure to visit her blog at