Yoga and cancer patients
Cancer is probably the most feared disease of our modern world and for a good reason. In 2012,
an estimated 14.1 million new cases of cancer occurred worldwide 1 . However, cancer enters in the
preventable category of disease because it is mostly linked with our lifestyle habits. In deed,
cancer development is influenced by factors we have control on like diet, stress level,
environment, physical activity routine, sleep, etc.
Even though yoga can be a powerful tool of prevention, in this essay I will present the benefits of a
practice for people suffering from the illness. I divide the benefits in 3 types, namely physical,
psychological, spiritual and I present a precise exercise for each category.
On the physical level
Undergoing treatment for curing cancer can be very tiring and comes with a lot of side effects like
fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance and nausea. Yoga as been proven to help cope with those issues.
For example, ujjayi pranayama can be really helpful to induce relaxation and fall asleep more
easily. To practice ujjayi breathing, sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Breath in deeply by
your nose and slowly exhale by your nose while slightly contracting your throat like if you wanted
to fog a mirror or create the ocean sound.
Also, a gentle regular practice of sun salutation can boost your level of energy by stimulating your
metabolism as well as stimulating your circulatory system and therefore helping with the
evacuation of toxins. More simply, the mere combination of downward facing dog and child pose
can be beneficial. As an example, it can be favourable for breast cancer patients because it can
contribute in reducing arms swelling by stretching and opening the chest and shoulders areas. To
perform this sequence, simply start kneeling on your mat, hips on your heels, forehead on the mat
and hands forward. Inhale, come on all fours and tock your toes under, exhale engage your core
and lift your hips up. Keep your back straight by bending your knees if needed, try to press your
belly on your thighs and lifting the tale bone up. Eventually work on extending your knees and
pressing the heels down on the mat. Stay for a few deep breaths and come back into child pose to
On the psychological level
Finding calm and stillness in any asana or taking time to settle down and focus on your breathing
is undeniably beneficial for your mental health. Of course, it allows you to deeply relax and
release stress or fears. Meditation, either active (asanas, walking) or passive (sitting, yoga nidra),
contributes to “slowing” down your brain waves or in other words, your electric brain frequency.
1 Cancer research UK, world wide cancer statistics, 2012, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-
For example, if you feel very anxious, agitated or you have a lot of thoughts, you are most likely in
a gamma wave state. Meditation or holding a calming asana for a few minutes can then help you
to switch down to a lower frequency state, like alpha waves, and therefore make you feel more
peaceful, grounded with clear thoughts and positive emotions. Try tree pose, a relatively easy
standing balancing pose that will force you to calm down, focus on your body and your breath
instead of negative emotions or thoughts. To perform tree pose, shift your weight on one straight
leg, then lift the other foot from the mat and place it either on your inner calf, inner lower or
upper thigh. Keep your lifted knee open to the side with both hips facing forward, belly slightly in,
shoulders relax and hands in prayer position either in front of your heart or over your head for
more challenge. Keep you core engaged, your gaze on a fixed point and your standing leg straight.
Hold for a few deep breaths and do the same with your other leg. Make sure your face is relax,
your ego and mind quiet.
On the spiritual level
Put very simply, yoga can help coping with the anxiety or stress caused by a life threatening illness
by changing your perception of life and death. By growing his or her higher consciousness,
spirituality and faith in ‘’god’’, one can really be relieved from the fear of death. In deed,
meditating on the idea of a supreme energy/soul, from where we all come from and where we are
all going back to after death, can bring a different perspective. Perspective is everything. Opening
your mind to the idea of the eternity of your soul, the existence of a place of liberation and
unconditional love instead of fearing death as an end, can transform the way you experience life
and death. So a possible exercise to allow you to explore your higher self and universal
consciousness would be an easy chakra meditation or pranayama while sitting or laying in a
comfortable position. For example, try sitting in Padmasana or lotus pose, a cross-legged position
with both feet on your opposite thigh. Rest your hands on your knees with the tips of your index
and thumb together and other fingers pointing down. Lengthen your spine and deeply breathe in
and out your nose. Bring your awareness to the point between your eye brows also known as third
eye, seat of your Ajna chakra. This is the center where wisdom and intuition develop. By
activating and opening this chakra, you can experience a higher consciousness and connect with
the cosmic energy. By taping in this energy, you can really develop an awareness of “a higher
existence” and meet with your soul which is eternal. Continue this meditation for as long as you
want. Come back to this exercise anytime you need to relax, let go of anxiety or elevate your soul
to unconditional love and faith in a “life after ”.
Here is just a glimpse of all the possible benefits of yoga for patients with cancer. Any asana,
pranayama or meditation technique can be adapted to the goal, health condition or mental state
of a person. Healthy, on the path of building a better health or fighting an illness, anyone can gain
form an adapted yoga practice. This is one of the million reason yoga is such a powerful discipline
and needs to be taught and loved by more and more people in the world
Über die Autorin:
Jennifer kommt aus Amerika und war Teil der 200 Stunden Yogalehrer Ausbildung in Indien im September 2018. Ihr Interesse und Leidenschaft für Yoga entwickelte sich während ihres Jobs im Bereich Finanzverwaltung. Als eine Freundin an Krebs erkrankte, gab ihr Yoga Kraft und mentale Balance. Sie lernte sehr viel durch Bücher und Studien, und entschied Anfang diesen Jahres nach Indien zu reisen. In Zukunft plant sie ihren 9-to-5-Job zu kündigen und ihr eigenes Yoga-Studio zu eröffnen.
Yogalehrer Ausbildung in Indien
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In diesem Blog, findest du spannende Tipps und Erfahrungsberichte zum Thema Yoga, Gesundheit, Indien und mehr.
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