Free Yoga Video! Yoga for Cancer Survivors: Keys to Improving Wellbeing

High angle view of the senior woman maintaining balance, making prayer gesture, sitting at the mat, meditating. Yoga for Cancer Survivors & wellbeing concept.

As detection and treatment modalities improve, more and more people are surviving cancer or living with it long-term

Over 16 million Americans currently live with the aftermaths of cancer, while an estimated additional 373,000 people will be cancer survivors by 2030. The numbers keep rising. 

However, survivors often face significant after-effects impacting quality of life. What many people are not aware of is just how long the effects of cancer linger after the treatment has ended. 

Most survivors are forced to deal with long-term effects not just from the cancer itself but from the treatments they have undergone. Toxic treatments like chemotherapy drugs, radiation, and surgery, as well as pain, fatigue, nerve damage, lymphedema, and many other issues, can linger for years. 

Additionally, many cancer survivors grapple with increased anxiety, depression, and fear of recurrence, and they may struggle to resume work and family life after treatment. Over a third of them characterize their health as fair or poor years down the line.  

Unfortunately, this vast population often falls through the cracks of the traditional medical system, says yoga for cancer specialist Vicky Fox, a yoga teacher who specializes in addressing these overlooked issues in the cancer survivor population. 

THE EMPOWERED CANCER SURVIVOR: HOW YOGA CAN HELP GUIDE YOUR JOURNEY

“Yoga offers great potential to enhance the quality of life for cancer survivors,” notes Fox. “Yoga can help address a surprising range of physical and emotional side effects of cancer and its treatments in the short and long term.”

Above all, yoga can help people come to terms with the tremendous life challenges they have faced, she notes.

“Life just hit them with something overwhelmingly big,” she notes.  “And you never go back. People go back to a new normal. But you don’t ever go back to the way things were because you just had a life-changing experience.”

Not surprisingly, dealing with stress and anxiety is one of the main challenges among those diagnosed with and treated for cancer. 

This is where yoga can make a big difference, notes Fox. 

“Yoga’s tools for body awareness, movement, breathing, relaxation, and community support can dramatically aid wellbeing for those touched by cancer,” says Fox. “Yoga offers techniques to treat the whole person. It can empower survivors with tools for self-care as they learn to thrive in their ‘new normal.’”

Yoga techniques like breathing exercises and meditation can be particularly useful to help reduce stress and anxiety, notes Fox. 

“I always say your breath is free of charge. You take it everywhere you go. It’s such a wonderful tool to have.”

 

Yoga Can Help Improve Lymphatic Health in Cancer Survivors

Yoga is also uniquely equipped to address many lingering physical effects of cancer treatments, particularly issues with the lymphatic system. 

A common problem for cancer survivors is dealing with the aftereffects of surgery and radiation, which often damage the lymphatic system and restrict fluid flows, leading to painful swelling (lymphedema)

In her yoga teaching, Fox uses specific yoga postures, breathing techniques, and sequences that help stimulate lymphatic drainage, often providing temporary but significant relief. These yoga poses also gently build strength and flexibility, where surgery has led to scarring, nerve damage, and restricted mobility. This allows survivors to better perform daily tasks that may have become difficult or exhausting.

“Yoga is empowering for cancer survivors, because it gives you back some control at maybe a time when most people feel like their life is out of your control,” notes Fox. “I want to move people from feeling like a patient to realize that there are things they can do to self-regulate and improve well-being.”

Yoga Can Help Cancer Survivors Deal with Cancer-Related Fatigue

1 Top view of the beautiful mature woman laying at the yoga mat and relaxing at home. Calming life and rest concept for cancer su

Cancer-related fatigue is extremely common among cancer survivors, resulting both from the disease process itself and its invasive treatments. 

Paradoxically, research shows staying active best combats fatigue and preserves precious muscle mass. Fox notes that a regular yoga practice with gentle movement and brief, accessible exercise “snacks” throughout the day can help keep survivors engaged and mobile at a maintainable level.

“A gentle yoga practice is a very accessible exercise approach, which allows survivors to implement tangible tools to soothe symptoms and claim authority over their own healing,” notes Fox. “The aim is to empower survivors as their own best teachers, listening inward, moving at their own pace, and honoring their body’s unique needs.”

Research increasingly links physical movement of any kind with better cancer outcomes, notes Fox. Beyond that, yoga radiates benefits into the emotional, spiritual, and social dimensions of well-being, which are too often overlooked in conventional cancer care models.

Her mission is to tend to the whole person using the whole-person medicine of yoga to help those touched by cancer live more fully.

THE EMPOWERED CANCER SURVIVOR: HOW YOGA CAN HELP GUIDE YOUR JOURNEY

Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D., C-IAYT, is the founder and President of YogaUOnline. She is a lead trainer in YogaUOnline’s Yoga Wellness Educator program, an RYT-300 Yoga Alliance-approved training that focuses on giving teachers the skills they need to offer wellness courses and work with older beginners.

Eva is a trained yoga therapist at the 1,000 hour level as well trained bodyworker at the 500-hour level. She is the co-author of several books, including Light Years Younger with Dr. David J. Goldberg.

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