Why Yoga Therapy and Exercise Help in the Battle Against Cancer

While many types of yoga asanas classes can be quite vigorous, yoga for cancer based on the principles of yoga therapy is more gentle and suited for people fighting cancer or dealing with the aftereffects of cancer treatments.

Is it safe to practice yoga for cancer? While doctors once told cancer patients not to bother exercising while fighting cancer, new research indicates that exercise actually can help maintain health and comfort during the process. Even better, exercise can actually stimulate anti-cancer immune functions as well. So more recently, doctors have begun to advise cancer patients and cancer survivors that if they wish to sustain their health and quality of life, exercise is not just a good idea, it’s a must.

Naturally, not all types of exercise are equally suitable for cancer patients and cancer survivors. This is where yoga therapy comes in. Most people battling cancer feel no desire to run down to the gym or purchase fancy weight-training equipment. Exercise should never be a strain, and even more so if you’re battling cancer or dealing with the after effects of cancer treatments. In fact, exercise works best when it nourishes you, both physically and mentally. This might be one reason why more doctors are becoming open using yoga for both cancer patients and cancer survivors.

Therapeutic yoga breathing for cancer makes use of the relaxing and nourishing power of the breath to increase vitality in the body and induce a deep sense of peace and relaxation. Flexibility-enhancing, therapeutic yoga postures help cancer patients let go of tension and increase well-being. Restorative yoga for cancer patients, which entails long holdings of soothing and deeply relaxing yoga postures is one of the most common forms of yoga therapy for both cancer patients and cancer survivors.  In restorative yoga, the body’s respiratory and circulatory systems work to heal and nourish the whole physiology while the practitioner simply relaxes into the pose.

Yoga therapy helps cancer patients and cancer survivors because it increases the activity of macrophages, anti-cancer immune cells. In addition to this, group classes can help lift spirits and encourage regularity of practice. Studies have shown that regular exercise releases tension and decreases depression, two issues that many suffering or recovering from cancer are all too familiar with.

Where do you go to learn how to practice a suitable yoga program for cancer? , if you have the resources, your best bet is often to work with a teacher trained in yoga therapy. A skilled yoga therapist can help you determine which postures work for your body, which poses you enjoy the most, and how to modify postures to fit your need. The more enjoyable you find your yoga practice, the more likely you are to continue with it. And it is the regularity of practice over time that will boost your immune system, lift your spirits, and help restore your body to a strong, healthy state.

If you live in a large city, chances are that there might be a yoga therapist in your area working specifically with cancer patients and cancer survivors. If there are no yoga therapy resources in your area for cancer patients or cancer survivors, you can try out some of the regular yoga classes in your area.

The best yoga for cancer survivors tends to more gentle and restorative forms of yoga, because these give your body the deep rest it needs to heal itself. Some more restorative forms of yoga include Kripalu yoga and Svaroopa yoga classes.

Lastly, we recommend simply downloading a gentle yoga for cancer practice. You’ll find some of the gentle yoga practices for cancer survivors we recommend here.

These practices are deeply soothing and relaxing. But remember, every physiology is different to begin with, and going through the fight against cancer may make some poses additionally difficult. Don’t strain: take it easy and never push to the point of pain. If something doesn’t feel right, simply back off. When it comes to yoga for cancer, oftentimes doing less and trying less will actually make the posture easier.

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