The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “ Yuj,” which means to unite. It is an ancient practice that originated in India. Yoga for cancer patients helps to unite your mind, body and inner self together for a better well-being. It involves the use of practices (sadhanas) like, various poses (asanas), meditation (dhyana) and breathing exercises (pranayama), which helps to achieve a deeper connection with yourself, providing you many health benefits.
Yoga has shown remarkable health benefits as an additive therapy in the treatment of cancer. It helps in managing a few of the cancer symptoms, the adverse effects of the ongoing treatment/drugs, and improves overall quality of life.
Using various sadhanas or Yoga for cancer patients, one may achieve a peaceful mind and healthier body. It fights back the stress, depression, or anxiety associated with the disease. It helps the mind-body to maintain an excellent physical and emotional balance(2).
The word “cancer” is associated with both physical as well as psychological issues for an individual diagnosed with it.
Introducing yoga for cancer patients in such a phase of life helps in improving the quality of life, deals with adverse effects of the treatment, and strikes a healthy balance between your mind and body(3).
• Yoga for cancer patients helps to lower fatigue and pain by following relaxation exercises such as Sudarshan kriya
• Improves sleep disturbance
• Helps to gain back the normal appetite, which is essential to deal with the side effects of the ongoing treatment
• Helps in reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
• By practicing breathing exercises like Bhastrika, Ujjayi, and Kapalabhati pranayama, it helps in calming your mind and acts against depression and anxiety.
• Reduces anxiety
• May lower risk of recurrence by reducing fat cells in the body as it avoids obesity, which is a risk factor for cancer (4).
To start with yoga, it is best first to consult your treating doctor and discuss the benefit of the program for you.
There are many hospitals, wellness clinics, and yoga for cancer patients centers that have expert yoga teachers who can tailor the asanas/exercise according to the needs of an individual.
One may also perform it at home with the help of supervision from a yoga teacher.
Try taking a minimum of 4 weeks to 12 weeks program with at least two supervised classes per week (3).
One session could last for 60-90 minutes.
1. Lie down straight on the floor/mat
2. Stretch out your hands sideways
3. Bend your knees and keep them together
4. Turn your knees to either side
5. Try touching them to the floor while keeping your spine straight and head turned to the other side.
6. Repeat and keep alternating sides
• Individuals with bone cancer should avoid yoga for cancer.
• Individuals in whom the cancer has spread to the bones.
• Individuals with lung conditions such as pneumothorax or pleural effusion, which may get aggravated with breathing exercises
• History of recent abdominal surgery
• Drink plenty of water or keep yourself hydrated
• Stop if any posture causes pain or unbearable discomfort
• Let your instructor know about all your health issues
• Don’t try yoga yourself without proper supervision
• Be empty stomach for at least 2 hours before performing yoga
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