The life of a cancer patient is extremely challenging with medical, psychological, social, and spiritual variables that contribute to not just physical destruction but also result in worry, exhaustion, sadness, and other unpleasant emotional disorders. While non-pharmacological therapies have been used to alleviate the pain, they have shown limited success. On the other hand, yoga therapy has increasingly demonstrated its benefits in treating cancer-related symptoms and improving patients’ wellbeing.
Yoga is a traditional practice, but recent studies have found that yoga has several health advantages, including those for cancer patients. It is a practice not just for the body but also for the mind. This practice holds several benefits to cancer patients at all stages. Specific postures and poses of yoga for cancer patients help in making a connection with thoughts, body, and spirit. Performing yoga helps you get in touch with your inner-self and increases strength and flexibility.
To know more about the benefits of yoga for cancer patients, read this article. We will discuss advantages along with the poses that you must practice for greater results.
Benefits Of Integrating Yoga With Cancer Care
Therapeutic activities like yoga have proved to complement medical treatment by healing the body, mind, and spirit. It helps in fighting the cancer battle by offering several benefits. Some of the major ones are mentioned below.
- Reduces Fatigue
Performing yoga helps in reducing fatigue. Several poses of yoga for cancer patients help with both physical and mental fatigue. It keeps you happy and relaxed throughout the day.
- Lowers Stress Level
Battling a life-threatening disease like cancer is definitely stressful. It affects the patient physically, emotionally, and mentally. However, performing yoga helps in dealing with all these aspects. It reduces the probability of getting "mood disturbance" by reducing pain and keeping you calm.
- Boosts Physical Functioning
Yoga has a direct relationship with physical functioning. Since cancer impacts the body and makes it difficult to perform daily activities, yoga, on the other hand, keeps the survivor limber and active without putting much pressure on their health.
- Manages Physical Side Effects
Practicing yoga for cancer patients helps manage the side effects that occur due to the treatment and strong medications. The treatment might include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. It reduces the pain and manages the loss of appetite. It improves well-being which results in better management of side effects.
- Improves Sleep Cycle
Sleep or insomnia is another common problem that people with cancer deal with. The stress and the side effects hamper the sleep cycle, leading to an increase in napping during the daytime, waking up too early, and difficulty falling asleep. However, yoga will help improve the efficiency and duration of sleep by healing you both from inside and outside.
- Assists in dealing with health problems
Yoga is one of the best-known practices for dealing with various health conditions. It lowers body pain, reduces blood pressure, improves strength, and more. While it helps with all the problems, you need to learn the right pose for a particular disease or problem.
- Enhances Quality Of Life
Along with the above-mentioned benefits, yoga helps deal with various mental health issues and reduces the chances of cancer recurrence. This ultimately results in better health, lifestyle, and quality of life. It reduces discomfort and disconnection and helps create a positive relationship with the body.
Poses Of Yoga For Cancer Patients
Now that you know the benefits of performing yoga for cancer patients let’s move to some of the best poses. Here are five yoga poses that are easy to perform and work well in keeping you happy and calm from inside. If you are starting out with the exercises, these poses will come in great help.
Viparita Karani or Legs up the Wall
Viparita Karani is one of the best poses of yoga for cancer patients that is a mix of both asana and mudra. It is a modern form of yoga practice that boosts energy, takes off pressure from the neck and spine, and enhances circulation. Here’s how to perform this exercise.
- Sit on the floor with legs up against the wall and bring your knees close to the chest.
- Keep your legs straight with shoulders and back sink into the floor.
- Bring the head and neck away and extend your arms out.
- Stay in the same position for about 5-10 minutes and relax.
- Release the pose and bend your knees.
Seated Spinal Twist
Another great pose of yoga for cancer patients is Seated Spinal Twist. Practicing this pose helps with digestion and nausea, one of the common problems faced during cancer. It works for the back, glutes, as well as improves flexibility.
- To perform this, sit upright with legs extended in front and hands resting.
- Now, bend your knees and come into a cross-legged position.
- Take a deep breath and exhale. While exhaling, twist your body and try to look over your right shoulder.
- At the time of twisting, keep your left hand on the right knee, and your right hand should be behind your back.
- Hold the pose and take deep breaths. Then, slowly release the pose.
- Repeat the same pose from the opposite side too.
Reclined Bound Angle
It is a classic pose of yoga for cancer patients as it helps reduce fatigue and stress. The majority of patients deal with mental health issues, and practicing this pose helps tremendously. Here are the steps that will guide you in performing it.
- Start by sitting on the floor and bringing your knees together in the front. The soles of your feet should be facing each other while knees should be bent and heels should point towards the groin.
- Now, lean backward slowly until your lower back is against the floor. While doing so, take support from the elbows.
- Take deep breaths and keep your arms out to your sides. Relax and close your eyes for a few minutes.
- Come out of the pose by drawing your knees together.
Balasana or Child Pose
Balasana is one of the most beneficial poses of yoga for cancer patients, especially for women diagnosed with breast cancer. This asana or pose stretches the hips, thighs, and back muscles while relaxing your chest muscles. Learn how you can perform it the right way.
- Start the exercise with all fours. Place your hands and knees on the mat.
- Now, spread your knees and keep the top of your feet on the floor. Bring your belly to the rest and relax your entire body. The belly should be between your thighs, and your forehead should be towards the floor.
- Take a deep breath and exhale. While doing so, lower your hips towards the heel and outstretch. Try to reach the arms forward.
- Keep your arms stretched out and breathe slowly. Make sure your hands are on the floor with palms facing downward and forehead towards the floor.
- Hold the pose for a few minutes and return to the relaxing position before performing it again.
This is, unarguably, the best pose of yoga for cancer patients. Several studies and evidence have shown that it has helped a number of cancer patients by reducing their stress, anxiety, and pain.
- To perform this exercise, sit down on your mat with crossed legs.
- Come into a comfortable position where you can feel your sitting bones coming in contact with the floor.
Now, lengthen your spine and slightly drop your chin to align your neck with your spine.
- Close your eyes, relax, and concentrate on your breath. Try to control your mind and keep it away from wandering. Even if you struggle, focus only on your breath.
- Stay in the same position for a few minutes and then slowly release the pose by relaxing your body and opening your eyes.
Under the doctor’s supervision, cancer survivors must incorporate yoga and low-impact exercise into their daily regime. Yoga for cancer patients helps in focusing on the mind and retaining flexibility. Practicing yoga is primarily aimed at minimizing treatment-related suffering and improving the quality of life. With so many great benefits, it has become increasingly popular among cancer patients.
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