Research and studies have revealed the benefits of Yoga Therapy for those suffering from cancer to help reduce fatigue, pain, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and mood swings and improve flexibility, breathing and a much-needed sense of wellbeing.
What is Yoga?
Yoga originated in ancient Indian and provides a holistic approach of tending to yourself by connecting the physical, mental and emotional states of an individual. Ancient Yoga acharyas practiced Yoga to attain a deeper spiritual awareness and connection with the divine.
Yoga itself has many branches that include asanas or the physical posture, breathing exercises that harness the power of the breath, meditation techniques and relaxation.
As such Yoga Therapy that combines and emphasizes the therapeutic aspects of Yoga, is highly advisable for cancer patients, as it can help them deal with depression, anxiety, pain and sleeplessness.
According to a research paper titled ‘Integrating Yoga Therapy into Oncology Care’ published in the 2019 issue of Oncology Issues, chronic stress can promote cancer growth and progression. “The underlying mechanisms for the effects of chronic stress are complex and involve chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Multiple studies have demonstrated a correlation between yoga therapy and decreased stress in cancer patients. Yoga therapy has also been associated with decreased inflammation and reduction of many of the common symptoms found in the cancer patient population.”
Yoga Therapy for Cancer Survivors
The benefits of Yoga Therapy for people living with cancer include physical and mental wellness. In recent years Oncology departments in many hospitals have integrated Yoga therapy with post-cancer treatments resulting in an overall improvement in the quality of life. Some of the areas that Yoga therapy can help in are:
- Sleep and Insomnia: Yoga may help people suffering from cancer, or those going through treatment and recovery, get better sleep. Many patients find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. By learning techniques through Yoga therapy, they can hope to get a full night’s rest. Insomnia, in general, and particularly for those who are sick, not only increases fatigue but can have a domino effect on the body’s ability to heal and recover from the ravages of cancer.
- Fatigue: Yoga therapy has been seen to reduce fatigue that is related to cancer and cancer treatments.
- Anxiety: Yoga, through meditation, breathing, and relaxation, helps reduce overall anxiety and depression. This in turn helps in the healing process.
- Loss of Appetite: Aggressive cancer treatments and medicines often result in a loss of appetite for the sufferer. Here too, Yoga can help through an overall improvement in one’s sense of well-being, rigour, vitality and digestion.
- Pain: Cancer patients suffer from varying degrees of pain as a result of the cancer, and also as part of the treatment. Yoga therapy helps in improving pain tolerance levels. Patients can also hope to experience a reduction in pain through gentle but focused exercises targeting painful areas.
- Stress: The practice of Yoga in general has beneficial effects on blood cortisol levels, helping reduce its secretion and keeping stress at bay. Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted during stress and may play a role in the progression of cancer.
- Emotional Distress: As we mentioned at the start, Yoga combines the mind, body and spirit. This holistic approach helps in better management of emotional distress. One of the main goals of Yoga is to help the practitioner weather all circumstances and always maintain a balanced outlook to life.
- Physical Benefits: Yoga can help improve flexibility, strength, muscle tone and balance — all of which may be compromised when you undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and prolonged bedrest.
Take the Right Action
If you are suffering from cancer, or you have a loved one struggling to regain their health, enroll for Yoga therapy and see how restorative and therapeutic it proves to be. A word of caution: make sure you choose your teacher wisely.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s win this battle together … today.
For any questions and for all your yoga-related queries call @ 050 395 5613 or write to [email protected]