Role of Yoga in cancer patients 1

Yoga has been considered as a great way to maintain fitness and to gain flexibility. It has been observed over the years that Yoga has been successful to treat and control many diseases.

Keeping in mind these benefits, Yoga is now being celebrated every year. It is celebrated every year, ever since the United Nations General Assembly declared 21 June as International Yoga Day.

There are several types of yoga. They all aim to help you relax by using breathing exercises, different body postures and relaxation techniques. 

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise for body and mind. It aims to improve strength, flexibility and breathing through a series of postures and movements. It is a whole body philosophy that started over 5,000 years ago in India.

Yoga aims to create harmony between your mind, body and spirit to help you feel calmer. It is promoted as a way of staying healthy and preventing illness.

There are about 80 main postures that you can do standing, kneeling, sitting or lying down. There are several different styles of yoga including: Hatha, Iyengar and Ashtanga yoga.

Why people with cancer use yoga…

As with many types of complementary therapy one of the main reasons that people with cancer use yoga is because it makes them feel good.

Yoga teachers promote it as a natural way to help you relax and cope with stress, anxiety and depression.

Generally, it can help to lift your mood and enhance well being.

Some people with cancer say it helps calm their mind so that they can cope better with their cancer and its treatment. Others say it helps to reduce symptoms and side effects such as pain, tiredness, sleep problems and depression.

Yoga can sometimes help you to move around more quickly and easily after surgery for cancer.

Research into yoga in cancer care

There is no scientific evidence to prove that yoga can cure or prevent any type of cancer. But some studies suggest that it might help people with cancer cope with symptoms and side effects.

In March 2010 a review of studies into yoga for patients with cancer was published. It included 10 trials.

It found that yoga could help to reduce anxiety, depression, tiredness (fatigue) and stress for some patients. And it improved the quality of sleep, mood and spiritual well being for some people.

We found that yoga was more effective than no therapy in improving quality of life and reducing fatigue and sleep disturbances. We also found that yoga was better for reducing depression, anxiety and fatigue in women when compared with psychosocial or educational interventions such as counselling. We are fairly certain that these observed results are probably true. Yoga might be as effective as exercise in improving quality of life and reducing fatigue; we do not have enough data to be sure. Studies have poorly reported risks of yoga. However, we found no evidence of serious risks of yoga among women with a diagnosis of breast cancer. No studies have assessed effects of yoga in women given a diagnosis of breast cancer more than five years ago.

Another observation in a study

In adults with mild-to-moderate major depression, an 8-week hatha yoga intervention resulted in statistically and clinically significant reductions in depression severity.

How Yoga Helps Cancer Patients and Cancer Survivors

Cancer patients who practice yoga as therapy during their treatment often refer to their yoga practice as a life-saver. The healing power of yoga helps both cancer patients and cancer survivors. No matter how sick from treatments and no matter how little energy, many find that the one thing that would bring relief were a gentle set of therapeutic yoga poses geared for cancer patients.

When battling cancer, the worst part is not just the symptoms of the disease itself, but often the discomfort and debilitating fatigue brought on from cancer treatments. Whether faced with the scar-tissue of surgery or ongoing nausea and weakness from chemotherapy or radiation, cancer patients endure a long road of physical trials.

But as many cancer patients and cancer survivors are discovering, there are ways to strengthen their bodies and deal with the uncomfortable side-effects of treatment, both during and after treatment. As the interest in more holistic approaches to healing is growing, yoga therapy for cancer patients and cancer survivors is emerging as one of the more successful methods for combating the physical discomfort of cancer and cancer treatment.

Yoga for Cancer

How does yoga help relieve the suffering that cancer all too often brings with it? Gentle yoga poses for cancer patients can work magic on many levels.

1. Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Cancer Patients

In addition to removing toxins, yoga for cancer can help dissipate tension and anxiety and enable cancer patients to settle into a greater sense of ease and well-being.  Stress depresses the body’s natural immune function, which may be one of the reasons that there is evidence that people who practice yoga for cancer have greater recovery rates.

2. Yoga as Exercise for Cancer Patients

Regular exercise also has been shown to stimulate the body’s natural anti-cancer defenses. However, few cancer patients or cancer survivors feel up to the task of engaging in a ‘regular’ exercise regimen. Many find that yoga as therapy for cancer provides an ideal, balanced form of whole-body exercise. It’s no wonder that more and more doctors have begun to recommend yoga as exercise for cancer patients and cancer survivors.

3. Yoga as Holistic Healing for Cancer Patients

For those enduring chemotherapy and radiation, yoga for cancer provides a means to strengthen the body, boost the immune system, and produce a much-sought-after feeling of well-being. For those recovering from surgery, such as that for breast cancer, yoga can help restore motion and flexibility in a gentle, balanced manner.

Yoga for cancer survivors and patients also provides an internal anchor of calm. Many practicing yoga therapy have discovered an interesting, subtle benefit, an increased awareness of a great, internal stillness and sense of unity. They’ve found, at the most fundamental level of their own consciousness, a sense of true health and vitality that spills over into other aspects of life.

Summary

  • In conclusion, research has demonstrated that yoga interventions can improve psychological distress, QOL, physical function, and some biological outcomes among adults receiving cancer treatment.
  •  However, the potential for yoga to benefit people with cancer may not have been fully captured yet. Yoga theoretically extends beyond the elements that most studies include (i.e., movement, breathing, meditation).
  • Its broader philosophy and approach may influence healthful living as a whole (i.e., food choices, exercise, life purpose, relationships).
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