Yoga Practices for Cancer Survivors

Health and Wellness

by | Mar 14, 2021

For most of us, a diagnosis of cancer is like being handed a death warrant. As we face a long-drawn out and rigorous treatment plan we are likely to brush aside the palliative benefits of Yoga.

So let’s take a closer look at how Yoga practices can help increase the life expectancy of cancer survivors and those still battling the disease.

Yoga therapy includes various asanas (poses), meditation and breathing techniques that go a long way towards reducing pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression, thus improving the quality of life.

Yoga practices are intended to stimulate glands and organs to function optimally. This in turn helps create a sense of well-being, a heightened sense of awareness that is both physical and meditative.

Many yoga asanas and breathing techniques have been modified to suit individuals — both those suffering and those who have successfully beaten back the disease — depending on the type and stage of cancer, the area affected and the needs of the person.

Let us take a quick glance at a few of them.

 Best Yoga practices for cancer survivors

Anulom Vilom or Alternate Nostril Breathing: Alternate Nostril Breathing helps reduce feelings of anxiety and worry by balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It involves closing the left nostril with your index finger, and breathing through the right, and repeating the process, this time closing the right and breathing through the left. This forms one cycle. Individuals are encouraged to repeat the cycle 4-6 times.

Marjariasana or Cat pose: This asana is designed to closely coordinate breathing with movement through an extension of the leg and spine. Begin by balancing your body on your hands and knees — palms spread out on your mat directly under your shoulders, and knees directly under your hip points.

Exhale deeply and curve the spine upward to create a dome with your back. Then inhale, drop your spine towards the floor and gaze up. This cycle can be repeated several times. Be careful to integrate your inhalations and exhalations with the movement of your spine.

Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclined Cobbler’s Pose:  This simple Yoga pose is designed to relax the whole body, releasing tension and lifting the spirits. Lie on your back and drop your arms on either side of your head. Bring your knees up, your feet resting flat on the floor. Now open out your knees while the soles of your feet face each other, forming a triangle. Close your eyes and breath slowly and mindfully. Maintain the pose for as long as you are comfortable.

Savasana or the Corpse Pose: Every Yoga routine concludes with Savasana as it helps in calming the body — particularly the nervous and respiratory systems — encouraging a stillness of the mind. Lie down on your back with your legs spread slightly apart and your arms beside you and slightly away from your body. Close your eyes. Then simply inhale and exhale slowly and completely. Repeat and gently, with each breath, bring your inhalations and exhalations back to normal.

Based on the individual and his or her range of motion, Yoga instructors can modify these poses. Hence it’s always advisable for cancer patients and survivors to practice Yoga under the guidance of expert yoga teachers. Once they have understood the proper technique and how to integrate the breath with the pose, they can continue their practice at home. As always a consistent Yoga practice is required to see favorable results.

Remember, if you are suffering from cancer, you don’t have to face it alone. Besides friends and family, seek the help of an expert Yoga therapist to guide you with breathing, meditative and other yoga techniques. It is sure to help bring some comfort in this tough phase of life.







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