Most people consider yoga to be mostly a weight loss and maintenance program, but the fact is that this ancient mind-body health system can work wonders for cancer patients. This fairly recent trend of including yoga in a holistic cancer treatment package owing to its therapeutic properties, is being well-received the world over with proven results.
Perhaps even worse than the physical discomfort of a cancer patient, is the effect the disease has on their emotional and mental being. Dealing with a life-altering situation coupled with so much negativity cancer brings in, it is only natural that most patients often go into anxiety mode and are highly stressed out.
This is where Yoga comes in. Tending mainly to improve the psychological well-being of the patient, the results also showed its physiological benefits.
As per a study conducted at the University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, 61 women who had undergone a breast cancer surgery were divided into two test groups. One group was given the regular cancer treatment, the other in addition to this, was also put in a twice-a-week yoga program. After the six weeks test period, it was reported that the second group who had participated in the yoga program had showed a better recovery rate and an improved overall sense of well-being.
How Can Yoga Help With Cancer
Yoga speeds recovery – While the placebo effect cannot really qualify as modern-day medicine, but it definitely aids the efficacy of medicines and therapy. The very basic proposition from which yoga stems is that the mind and body can be aligned to become one, which is why an imbalance in one would have an adverse effect on the other. Since yoga brings in tranquility of the mind, its effects can be seen on the physical recovery process too.
Yoga helps to cope with the situation– Any mindfulness-based therapeutic program such as yoga would have a drastic effect on someone who suffers from chronic stress and anxiety. Dealing with cancer and chemotherapy is one of the most stressful times in the life of a cancer patient. The body goes through a lot of changes, from fatigue to hair loss, and these changes affect the patient not only on a physical but more on an emotional and mental level. Through yoga asanas and approved breathing techniques, cancer patients find it a lot easier to release the tension and let go of the stress and constant rumination.
In fact, not just patients even cancer survivors are being recommended by doctors to enroll in specific yoga classes. Maybe the worst is already over but it is reported that for most breast cancer survivors, the horrors of the past still linger on and they often cocoon themselves away from the world. Furthermore, the discomfort does not entirely end with having beaten cancer, the body is still weak and the mind weaker. Practicing yoga would then help them to condition their minds to make peace with the past and move on with renewed vigor.
Yoga is also for the body– In terms of the physical benefits, yoga practitioners generally only rave about the weight loss or management part. But truth be told, yoga has some profound effects on the body in the form of controlling blood pressure, metabolism, body temperature, breathing, and even skin resistance.
Such benefits greatly help cancer patients and also give a boost to routine medical treatment. Although some attribute the change to being purely pseudo scientific, still the positive effects cannot be ignored.
Is Yoga For Cancer Any Different Than Regular Yoga
While the basic principle of yoga remains the same, today there are various different versions and interpretation adopted by yogis. Each of these versions is more of an addition made to the original concept of yoga.
For cancer patients and survivors, there are patient or group-specific types of yoga sessions. Since the body of a cancer survivor goes through a lot throughout therapy, it then becomes necessary to ensure that the asanas and pranayama does not cause any discomfort or exert the body too much. Tailor-made gentle yoga helps to get rid of all the toxin build up from the treatment too, in addition to dissipating tension, stress and anxiety.
Yoga for cancer goes beyond the conventional asanas and breathing techniques. Doubling up as a group therapy session, clinics and yoga centers combine positive self-help therapies such as group discussion, one-on-one counseling, and even partner projects where two patients who have gone through similar scenarios are put together to help each other emotionally.
Although, there is no concrete scientific proof that yoga does help cancer patients and survivors. However, going by the positive effects of yoga in general and empirical observations in patients, it is safe to assume that yoga does to a great extent help patients to deal with the disease both during and after.