Yoga and Cancer

Helping to Make Those Affected Feel Better 

We all strive to live a more active, healthy, and fulfilling lifestyle. This desire applies to us whether we are currently healthy or recovering from an illness such as cancer. Sadly, treatments for many illnesses are as toxic to the body as the illness itself. Yet yoga has been shown to support our goals for a healthy lifestyle and to help reduce the symptoms and side effects of cancer, including pain, fatigue, sleep problems and depression

There are many styles and forms of yoga practice: restorative yoga, hot yoga, vinyasa yoga, gentle yoga, yin yoga, and ashtanga yoga to name just a few. Different styles of yoga have multiple benefits. Choosing the style that will be beneficial to your needs depends upon your circumstances. Before beginning any form of exercise or health plan, it is important to speak with your doctor to confirm your readiness to do so.

Engaging in a hot yoga class offers many benefits that may lead to a more active, healthy, and fulfilling lifestyle.  According to a recent report on Healthline.com, some of these benefits include improved flexibility, the ability to burn more calories, stronger bone density, improved cardiovascular health, and reduction in blood glucose levels. Hot yoga also helps reduce stress and depression.

Many of the benefits described above also apply if you are undergoing treatment for cancer. Once your oncologist gives you the go ahead to try yoga, speak with your instructor to find the style of yoga that will best support your mind, body, and spirit. Yoga integrates the whole body for optimum health.

A report from the National Institute of Health states that yoga, when used in conjunction with conventional medical treatment, may be helpful in relieving some symptoms linked to cancer. Recent studies of women who had breast cancer revealed that doing yoga helped improve their quality of life. Furthermore, it may also relieve symptoms of migraine headaches, asthma, diabetes, drug addiction, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

For individuals battling cancer, yoga does more than build strength and improve flexibility. It addresses toxicities resulting from cancer and its treatment protocol.  Such toxicities include anxiety, distress, mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, and muscular pain. Yoga may even help with memory. 

If you are receiving medical care for cancer, or any other illness, you should consider which style of yoga will best enhance your healing process. Hot yoga, which is briefly mentioned above, may or may not be the best style. Instead another form of yoga, such as restorative yoga, yin yoga, or gentle yoga, may be more appropriate while you are undergoing treatment.  Again, you should consult with your doctor and you should seek a yoga studio that offers guidance and solid instruction. Your yoga studio can provide the encouragement and environment to enhance the healing process. Additionally, you should speak with your instructor about your concerns and needs. The instructor should be trained in the style of yoga you are seeking and should engage frequently in continuing education.

Liba Spyros
About Liba Spyros 1 Article
Liba Spyros is the co-owner of Transform Power Yoga in Haymarket. Prior to beginning her yoga practice, Liba was a professional ballerina who studied at the School of American Ballet and danced at the Houston Ballet. She also studied Pilates under Romana Kryzanowska who was certified by Joseph Pilates. Transform Power Yoga is located 15111 Washington Street, Suite 109, Haymarket, and can be contacted by phone 703-753-2977 or via their website www.TransformPYoga.com.

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