January 9, 2009
By SLOAN BREWSTER, The Middletown Press staff
MIDDLETOWN — Some ways to manage pain do not involve medication.
Yoga therapist Debra Campagna offers classes for cancer and other patients through Middlesex Hospital.
She uses massage techniques developed 4,000 years ago in India that were eventually exported to Thailand. Known as Thai massage, the ancient practice of gently manipulating the arms and legs enhances oxygen flow and brings about a state of relaxation, which can help people manage their pain, Campagna said.
“If the rest of the body can soften and relax, then the pain doesn’t become so important,” she said.
Campagna likes to start class with Thai massage and then, when students are relaxed and their muscles have softened, she begins a session using kripalu and integrated yoga.
The yoga session uses breath, movement and relaxation to relieve anxiety and move lymph fluid, which supports the immune system.
The gentle movements stretch and massage the areas of the lymphatic system — the inner groin, lower belly, upper chest and under the arms. Doing so is especially helpful when a person has undergone surgery to remove lymph nodes, such as in treatment for breast cancer.
“We move and stretch so that we’re massaging the lymphatic system,” Campagna said. “It’s kind of a self-massage when you’re moving and stretching with yoga.”