5 Benefits of Yoga for Cancer Patients

April 26, 2017

Here is an article on YOGA and CANCER by Virgil Anderson

5 Benefits of Yoga for Cancer Patients

Cancer is a terrible disease. From the early stages of a cancer that can be cured to the later stages of an incurable type of cancer like mesothelioma, this illness is devastating. Living with it takes a toll on physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. If you are living with cancer and its treatments, you may be facing pain, depression, fatigue, and an inability to get up and face the coming day. One proven way to live better while living with cancer is to practice yoga with a trained, professional instructor. Here are just five of the ways in which yoga can help any cancer patient feel better:

1. Relieve pain. Yoga has been shown to reduce pain from a variety of sources. For a cancer patient the pain may be caused by tumors pressing on nerves or may be a side effect of treatment, like radiation or chemotherapy. Regardless of the source, cancer is painful. Research has found that regular yoga sessions reduce pain because it helps you tolerate it better. Practicing yoga could relieve your pain and your dependence on pain medications.

2. Boost mood. In addition to the physical pain you likely are also experiencing emotional pain as a result of living with cancer. Cancer patients are at a greater risk for stress, anxiety, and depression. Yoga can regulate those negative feelings and boost mood with regular practice. Several studies have found thatyoga modulates the stress response in the body, which helps practitioners to feel more relaxed and calm. Research also shows that yoga improves mood by reducing depression and anxiety, which may be the result of a boost in a certain type of brain chemical, called GABA.

3. Improve quality of life. Research has also found that cancer patients score higher on a quality-of-life survey when practicing yoga regularly. In one study, cancer patients were evaluated before and after an eight-week session of yoga classes and all showed greater quality of life after the session. The improvements in quality of life are likely due to a number of factors, from reduced pain and fatigue to simply being able to be active and social with other people, including other cancer patients.

4. Reduce fatigue. Cancer patients tend to feel fatigued, both because of the illness and as a side effect of treatments like chemotherapy. Fatigue prevents patients from being active and enjoying life, but yoga can help. Several studies have found that patients practicing yoga experience less fatigue than those that do not.

5. Increase activity and mobility. Another important way in which yoga can help cancer patients is simply by giving them a way to be more active. Pain, fatigue, and other symptoms may prevent a cancer patient from doing activities she might otherwise enjoy, but doing yoga can reduce these and get a patient moving again. Yoga helps increase flexibility and mobility and helps patients maintain or increase physical fitness, which contributes to overall wellbeing and ability to move and be active.

Yoga for cancer patients is a great exercise that can be modified and used gently to reduce pain and fatigue, to increase activity and fitness, and to boost mood and make life more enjoyable. If you are thinking of trying yoga as a cancer patient, talk to your doctor first and then look for an instructor who will understand your special needs.



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