Relaxation Exercises: Yoga

Cancer treatment can be an intensely demanding time for patients as appointments, tests, and treatments become the ‘new normal’ for sometimes weeks and often months.

According to the National Cancer Institute, many people with cancer have found that doing relaxation techniques or imagery exercise has helped them cope with pain and stress during treatment and recovery.

Helen Forristal, Director of Nursing at the Marie Keating Foundation says that, “cancer from diagnosis to treatment and after treatment can be a stressful time for patients.  It is important for patient’s to take time to relax and to take a breather from the busy schedule that they have become accustomed to. For some patients gentle breathing exercises help them relax as they wait for treatments or test results, for others, having a calm mind and body can help them mentally come to terms with a cancer diagnosis”.

Coping with Cancer Through Yoga

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India.Yoga connects both the mind and  body through moving meditations and exercises.

There is no scientific evidence to prove that yoga can cure or prevent any type of cancer, but, some studies suggest that people living with cancer that practice yoga can experience a sense of relaxation and calmness. Some  people with cancer have found that yoga has helped them cope with their symptoms and side effects.

On an emotional level, yoga helps people with cancer reconnect with their body after undergoing various treatments; chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery. The breathing and movements have also been known to ease stress and allow participants to connect to their inner selves on and off the mat.  Practicing yoga can also help improve a person’s emotional stability and endurance during cancer treatment and ultimately.

Before starting yoga, it’s important to talk with your doctor and consider the following:

  • It is important to practice proper techniques with a licensed yoga instructor starting out.  A lot of hospitals and treatment centers offer yoga classes.
  • What type of yoga is best for you? Some types of yoga, like ‘hot yoga,’ can be physically demanding in a humid environment. It is important to keep in mind your physical comfort level.