About Irina Telyukova

When I was 24 years old, my grandmother was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. She lived in Moscow, and I - in Philadelphia. During one of my visits to Moscow, I got to spend some time on my own with her, while her caretaker took a break. I took grandma for walks, and we talked about her life and her mood; her feelings were “Why am I living? I don’t do sick, and I am ready to go.” During those visits, I had to give grandma her medications; one of the medications said on the package “Helping you live each day with joy”. This sentiment forcefully struck me as such a contradiction with what I saw in my grandmother’s mentality, influenced by factors both personal and cultural, as well as the seeming inability of the medical establishment around her to help her mentally and emotionally. Optimism was not a part of the cultural and emotional landscape in which she faced her illness. And I felt powerless - I wanted desperately to help my grandmother find a way to “live each day with joy”, but I could not fathom how to begin closing that gap.  

A few months later I began learning how to teach yoga, and several years after that, how to teach yoga for cancer recovery. I did not know this when I started, but my experiences with my grandmother during those days inspired my entire yoga journey, and my desire to help my students, particularly those who have just been diagnosed with cancer, find a way to live each day with joy, purpose, and beyond the diagnosis. I have been teaching for over 13 years now, and have taught and learned from hundreds of students, including dozens in cancer treatment, that this is not only possible, but it is available to everyone, regardless of their culture, location, stage or type of diagnosis.  

I am trained to teach in a variety of yoga styles, from alignment-based flow yoga, to Raja Yoga, which combines physical hatha (posture) yoga practices with inner practices of breath and meditation. I am separately certified in Yoga for Cancer Recovery, certified by Yoga Alliance at the Experienced Advanced Yoga Teacher level (RYT-500, E-RYT 200), and as a Continued Education provider for yoga teachers. I have worked with students privately and in groups, and have taught in settings ranging from yoga studios to homes, universities, clinics and hospitals. Since 2011, I have been volunteering as a yoga teacher, and now coordinate the volunteer yoga program, at Rady’s Childrens’ Hospital’s Hematology/Oncology wing, working with children with cancer, as well as their families, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I teach workshops and online programs customized for students in cancer treatment.  

Your mind holds incredible power: it can keep you anxious, or it can help you heal. By working with me in one of my programs, you will learn to make the choice for healing and the mind’s tremendous positive power every time you feel anxiety coming on, be it while going about your day or during a treatment. We supplement the mind practices with a range of yoga postures and breath practices, with varied intensity for days when you feel like being active, and for moments when you just want to find some calm without much movement. With these practices, you can counter the physical and emotional stresses of treatment by maintaining and building your physical strength, flexibility and balance. These are the tools that I wish I had known about when I took care of my grandmother. I have now shared them with many students,  have seen their incredible power, and I am so excited to be able to offer my teachings to you.