Yoga has many different benefits for anyone who is practicing it. It has been proven to have benefits for sleep, relaxation, back pain and more. Yoga can be able to lower one’s blood pressure and help one deal with stressful situations. For me personally, yoga has been able to help with anxiety and panic attacks because of the yoga breathing techniques. In a study done at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas found that patients doing yoga were able to fall asleep faster, sleep better and longer, and used fewer sleep medications as opposed to not doing yoga. Cancer causes an unbelievable amount of stress both side effects from treatments and the psychological aspect: yoga can actually alleviate it.
Yoga combines different aspects of exercise that all cancer patients need: gentle and non-invasive exercise, focused breathing, and meditation. It has been found that the stretching and poses in yoga can patients with conditioning and will help manage fatigue. Because yoga has specific breathing technique, it can help patients focus their attention and fight off the depressive intrusive thoughts and focus more on relaxing. The breathing helps give patients the ability to focus on something other than the illness, and the meditation helps patients with the ability to focus their attention on something and clear their heads of every thought that may be entering into their minds. It sure helped with me.
Two wonderful breathing techniques that cancer patients can use are Sounding Breath, and Sufi Mother’s Breath. Sounding Breath is done laying on the ground in the corpse pose,letting all your limbs relax. Exhale completely and then slowly draw in your breath through the nose. As you inhale feel how your lungs and abdomen fill up. As you exhale contract your throat to make a slight hissing sound and completely exhale and empty your lungs. Let your breath be long and slow. Sufi Mother’s Breath is done while sitting, so patients can do this at any point. Exhale with a deep sigh in order to reset your diaphragm. Then breathe slowly through your nose for a count of 7, and hold your breath for a moment. Then for another count of 7 you exhale through your nose. Repeat this a few times, and this will help calm your spirit and relax your nerves.
There are postures that can be done sitting or laying on the ground, and every one of the postures can be adapted for patients with limited leg or arm mobility. Yoga is seen as incorporating mind, body and breathing, allowing those who practice it to learn how to really listen to their body and know what it needs. When you do the moves and your body begins to resist; you don’t push. As you breath you focus on the breaths and feeling your lungs fill with air. You feel the benefits in your body and at the same time, feel more relaxed and enabling your body to calm down and rest when it is time to sleep. The meditations and focusing of attention helps focus our attention off of the bad depressive thoughts and onto better things.
People who participated in various studies such as the one done at the M.D Anderson Cancer Center reported being able to do physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs and lifting groceries a lot better than they had without doing the yoga. Yoga gives us more energy and allows us to do the simple daily activities that going through cancer treatments can take away from us. Personally I found that doing yoga helped me deal with the fatigue and sickness associated with side effects from the chemotherapy. I had more energy and was able to eat more without getting nauseous.
People who have problems with balance should skip the balancing poses like the tree pose. Part of the Tibetan yoga is the idea that it can strip the toxins from the lymph system as well as detoxes the body. It feels refreshing to have your body detoxed especially after having chemotherapy drugs pumping through your veins. Some of the moves, and focused attention helps balance the hemispheres of the brain which allows you to think clearer and increases your ability to integrate your thoughts better. The moves also help bring oxygen to different organs of the body. It is said that would help with weight lose and again improves the way you breathe. Yoga can even help with your posture and keeping your muscles toned and oxygenated. People including myself who have tried yoga during cancer treatments have experienced less fatigue and find it easier to fall asleep at night and are able to stay awake during the day.
Yoga can enable cancer patients the chance to learn how to focus their thoughts on someone other than the fatigue, pain and fears related to the cancer. It can help our bodies relax and detoxify to help us calm ourselves before it is time to sleep. The techniques we learn through yoga can help us use them to help clear our thoughts and try to fall asleep at night and get the rest that we need to fight this cancer. Yoga is simple and easy to do for anyone of all ages and walks of life. For cancer patients it could help in numerous ways not just with sleeping, anxiety and detoxing the body. It can help keep us in shape and not allow our bodies to because stagnate from not doing anything. Exercise helps our bodies stay healthy. There is nothing to lose if you try it; but talk to your doctor first before trying anything.