Yoga As An Alternative Approach to Cancer Therapy

Yoga is one of the most widely used complementary and alternative medicine therapies to manage illness. The amount of research that is going into studying the beneficial effects for those living with cancer is simply overwhelming. From reducing nausea due to chemotherapy to lowering cortisol levels to improving quality of life, yoga has been proven to be an effective approach to cancer therapy.

Whether you believe that yoga can help heal cancer or not, it has, in the least, been shown to significantly improve the lives of those living with cancer. Its combination of gentle stretching, deep breathing and meditation encourage the body to relax, the mind to become calm and the nervous system to switch from the ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic state to the ‘calm and balanced’ parasympathetic state.

Yoga’s Beneficial Effects

Yoga improves quality of life, manages self-reported psychological distress, modulates circadian patterns of stress hormones, shows significant improvements in anxiety, depression, distress, and stress, improves psychosocial functioning, fatigue, and regulation of cortisol secretion, helps achieve relaxation and diminish stress, decreases hot-flash frequency, severity, and joint pain, improves mood, reduces inflammation and relieves chronic diseases.

How Many People are Doing Yoga?

According to a 2008 study in the United States, 15.8 million U.S. adults practice yoga. One significant trend to emerge from the study is the use of yoga as medical therapy; according to the study, nearly 14 million Americans say that a doctor or therapist has recommended yoga for them. In addition, nearly half of all adults agree that yoga would be beneficial if they were undergoing treatment for a medical condition. Research studies have found yoga to become beneficial for people with a wide variety of health conditions, including: coronary disease, cancer, arthritis, eating disorders and chronic pain.

Are Cancer Societies Recommending Yoga?

In a systematic analysis of the websites of leading cancer centers in the United States, of 41 centers, 12 (29%) did not have functional websites with regard to information related to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The most common CAM approaches mentioned were: acupuncture (59%), meditation/nutrition/spiritual support/yoga (56% for each), massage therapy (54%), and music therapy (51%). Twenty-two (54%) mentioned at least one ongoing research opportunity, and 19 (46%) provided links to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website.

Great Yoga Classes for Cancer Therapy

The style of yoga that has been shown to significantly benefit those living with cancer are gentle, soothing and relaxing. Examples include restorative, yin and gentle hatha. Here are a few that you can try on our site:

Restorative Yoga: Letting Go Through Stillness and Stretch
Difficulty: Beginner
Teacher: David Procyshyn
Duration: 36 mins 8 secs
Equipment: Strap, Bolster

Yin Yoga: Sinking Into Stillness
Difficulty: Beginner
Teacher: Anastasia Hangemanole
Duration: 60 mins 42 secs
Equipment: Block, Bolster

A Deep Release for the Hips, Hamstrings and Lower Back
Difficulty: Beginner
Teacher: David Procyshyn
Duration: 47 mins 32 secs
Equipment: Strap


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