Learn more about the uses of yoga for cancer patients, and its synergistic effects in chemotherapy and radiation
What is Yoga?
Yoga originated in India around 5000 years ago. The term is derived from Sanskrit word “Yuj”; it means to unite and to integrate. Yoga is a body of knowledge; it’s a whole-body philosophy. It is all about harmonizing the body and mind, and to unite the physical with mental and spiritual. Yoga is a synchronization of various breathing techniques, postures, stretching and meditation. It helps in providing harmony between mind, body, and soul.
Yogis promote yoga as a way of staying healthy and preventing diseases and illness and relieve stress that our everyday lives bring upon us. They claim that the postures will stimulate the nervous system, make the muscles and joints more flexible, and relax mind and body. The exercises combined with breathing improve our oxygen and blood supply. In turn, this helps our circulation and breathing, which promotes general good health. There are several different styles of yoga including Hatha Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, and Astanga yoga. Some are quite strenuous, while others are gentler and focus more on meditation and breathing.
Practicing Yoga for cancer patients is known to be of great benefit to their psychological, physical and emotional health and well-being.
How Does Yoga Work?
Yoga works on the mind body and soul. Practicing yoga consists of different poses and imagery that aids in strengthening the connection between mind and body, through various breathing techniques. Specific yoga poses and postures help to train the body. These poses focus on the effort that is required to move the energy through the body, the stretch helps strengthen the muscle and are beneficial for any musculoskeletal injuries. Yoga also keeps the mind-body connection strong and helps individuals who practice yoga to increase focus and concentration. Yoga uses controlled breathing as a way to merge the mind, body, and spirit. It is believed that this will control the energy flow in our body. Several research studies suggest that yogic practices such as inhalation techniques, can significantly increase vagal tone and improve symptoms of a variety of conditions, including diabetes, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. It slows down heart rate, calms the mind, and leads to a deep, inner calm and sense of relaxation. Yoga for cancer patients has been shown to ease emotional and physical pain and better resilience to fight cancer.
Where is Yoga Found?
Due to wide acceptance of yoga practices through all the cultures and societies, it’s easy to find a yoga class, yoga is offered as one to one sessions with the yogi teachers as well as in the form of class or group sessions. Yoga is provided by several for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Yoga is offered in wide variety of surroundings from classes occurring in parks and spas to the gym and home sessions. Yoga for cancer patients is offered in some hospitals as well as a part of complementary cancer therapy and rehabilitation program for cancer survivors.
Advantages of Yoga with Different Types of Cancer
Yoga has been proven quite beneficial for patients battling with cancer or trying to recover from cancer treatments. Most of the cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment suffer from psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety. Undergoing rigorous and invasive treatment for cancer puts enormous strain on the patient. Research has revealed that yogic breathing, defined as a manipulation of breath movement, has been shown to affect positively immune function, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress-related disorders. Yoga also has a mood-boosting effect, releasing endorphins and elevating the mood, hence helping deal with depression in cancer patients.
One of the most taxing side effects of cancer and its treatment is dealing with the pain, and yoga for cancer patients helps to overcome this pain, in elevating their mood, and in increasing the threshold for pain. It is physically helpful for the management of pain experienced during treatment. Research has shown that women who practice yoga during rehabilitation have low scores for pain and stress. A small individual study in the USA in 2012 found that yoga reduced fatigue in women with breast cancer. Some studies seem to show that yoga may be able to reduce hot flushes in women with breast cancer. One small trial showed that people with lymphoma had fewer sleep disturbances, fell asleep more quickly, and slept for longer after a seven-week yoga program.
Does Yoga Enhance the Effect of Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the form of treatment for cancer, although effective chemotherapy has several side effects like nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, and pain. Yoga for cancer patient helps relieve the side effects of chemotherapy. Restorative yoga is quite beneficial during chemotherapy the breathing exercises in yoga can even be practiced during chemo infusion. Yoga helps reduce stress and increases the quality of life in cancer patients. It also enhances psychological health of cancer patients and results in good mood and spiritual well-being. Research also indicates that people who practice yoga sleep better.
Does Yoga Enhance the Effects of Radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy is another form of cancer therapy that includes delivering radiation to the parts of the body affected with cancer. Radiation therapy has several side effects, and yoga has been shown to promote compliance and active approach to treatment during and after radiation therapy cycle. The results of randomized trials focusing on breast cancer women undergoing radiotherapy indicate that yoga for cancer patients relieved stress improved these patients quality of life, and the rigor of practicing yoga helped these patients cope with the transition of getting back to their normal life.
Can Yoga Reduce the Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation?
Chemo and radiation therapy are the mainstays of cancer treatment. However, they do have considerable side effects, due to these side effects cancer patients have decreased the quality of life and take a longer period to return to their normal activities. Yoga for cancer patients practiced during and after treatment helps patients cope up with the side effects, by aiding in connecting mind body and soul and thus decreasing their rehabilitation period. The stretches that constitute the yoga pose also helps exercise their body, keeping it healthy.
What Influence Does Yoga Have on the Immune System?
Yoga is a great but gentle way to boost and support the immune system on the day to day basis. Yoga helps lower stress hormones level; stress hormones compromise the immune system, stimulating the movement of lymphatic and releasing toxins from the body while breathing methods strengthen lungs and respiratory tract and bringing plentiful oxygen to vital organs. Practicing yoga for cancer patients has been shown to improve immunity
Does Yoga Increase Quality of Life and Survival Rate?
Several studies have proven that yoga for cancer patients increases the quality of life. During and after treatment, practicing yoga has also been linked to low cortisol levels, a hormone which is related to poor survival in breast cancer patients, thus yoga, when practiced as a complementary treatment, has been shown to have a positive effect on survival rates as well.
Learn more about “Natural ways of cancer treatment” on our website.
Dr. Adem Gunes has built the world’s largest database of scientifically tested natural substances with proven effects in cancer treatments. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chief Physician of ProLife Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and played a key role in the establishment of the research laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the first Austrian hyperthermia center. Now, Dr. Adem works closely with cancer patients from around the world (including Germany, Thailand, Dubai) to recommend them a complementary cancer clinic or to create a personalized care plan for patients to follow at