Yoga is an ancient lifestyle practice that uses a series of movements and poses (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation to allow a deeper connection to Self. The word yoga means “to join” or “union.”
Yoga focuses on joining the Body, Mind, Breath and Spirit together in harmony and focus, without mental distractions.
Yoga has been practised for thousands of years. Strict followers of the discipline observe a number of beliefs and practices, including ethics, dietary guidelines and spirituality.
Yoga can help people living with cancer relieve their anxiety and depression. It’s also been shown to increase a sense of spiritual well-being and may also potentially help with fatigue or sleeping problems.
Yoga is great for children with cancer because it is one of the integrative therapies that could involve both patients and their loved ones in a more hands-on approach.
Yoga also allows the Child with Cancer around 45 minutes away from their illness; time to once again be the child they are meant to be, and not a cancer patient. Yoga can also benefit the mother/caregiver as they are also given the freedom to be a playful and carefree for a while and to enjoy being with the child in almost normal circumstances, as opposed to being a full-time carer.
A History of the Medical Use of Yoga
Yoga started over 5,000 years ago in India and is now very popular in Western countries.
It is a whole body philosophy, involving working with breathing (pranayama), stretching exercises, postures (asanas) and meditation.
These create harmony between your mind, body and spirit and help clear and calm your mind.
Yoga teachers promote yoga as a way of staying healthy and preventing illness.
They claim that the postures will stimulate your nervous system, make your muscles and joints more flexible, and relax your mind and body.
Yoga as a Complementary Therapy
There is no evidence at this time that yoga can treat cancer itself. Research has shown that yoga can be used to help improve high blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, metabolism and body temperature.
Yoga can improve your strength, mobility, bone health, cardiovascular health, breathing pattern and other physiological systems and decrease pain. Mentally, yoga can enhance well-being, lower your stress response, help manage your pain experience and help you feel more relaxed. People who practice yoga believe that it helps enhance their quality of life.
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 who have used yoga say that it helps calm their mind so that they can
cope better with their cancer and its treatment. Others say that it helps to reduce symptoms and side effects such as pain, tiredness, sleep problems and depression.
Several major cancer centers have yoga programs as part of their treatment programs. These centers include Stanford Cancer Center, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
In addition, the National Cancer Institute gave M. D. Anderson Cancer Center a $4.5 million grant in April to research adding yoga to breast cancer treatment programs.
The researchers will measure and track the levels of stress hormones in participants as well and monitor their sleep.
The best types of yoga for cancer patients and survivors are those that focus on breathing and gentle postures. Mustain developed a special yoga program just for cancer patients Called YOCAS®, (Yoga for Cancer Survivors); it is a blend of Hatha and restorative yoga postures as well as breathing exercises.
Yoga can sometimes help you to move around more quickly and easily after surgery for cancer.
Read more about how Yoga is administered, Possible Side-effects and Risks etc., on our static Complementary & Alternative Therapies page, Yoga
Please note that the Little Fighters Cancer Trust shares information regarding various types of cancer treatments on this blog merely for informational use. LFCT does not endorse or promote any specific cancer treatments – we believe that the public should be informed but that the option is theirs to take as to what treatments are to be used.
Always consult your medical practitioner prior to taking any other medication, natural or otherwise.