Guest post by Jillian McKee: blog author of Center Yourself
Anybody who has had any experience with yoga can explain how they feel after a good session of stretching, breathing, and meditating. Most will say they feel calm, energized, and have an overall feeling of well-being. Doctors are taking note of the effect yoga can have and are recommending their cancer patients to give yoga a try.
Though yoga cannot cure cancer, it is noted by the American Cancer Society to "enhance quality of life for some patients with cancer." Yoga has been shown through studies to reduce or relieve symptoms of various diseases or conditions, like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center led a study several years ago focusing on women who had had surgery for breast cancer. The sixty-one women in the study were each undergoing a six week radiation treatment. Half of the women participated in a yoga class twice a week; the others did not. The women who practiced yoga during their radiation treatment period felt that they were in better health than they were previously. They were also less tired during the day. Some cancer patients have reported an increased flexibility where surgeries had previously limited mobility. The breathing exercises in yoga have also helped some patients to calm themselves more easily and sleep better. Though the physical improvements from a consistent yoga routine have shown improvement in the overall health of the body, there hasn't been any measurable improvement in depression or anxiety in patients.
Yoga can help more than just women recovering from breast cancer: those recovering from mesothelioma have found that they have an increased life expectancy by practicing yoga.
One theory behind how yoga helps cancer patients is that tumors feed on stress. By taking time to relax and meditate through yoga, the body is able to unwind and send a type of positive energy toward the tumors, depriving them of what they need. With no stress to feed off of, the tumors die and the cancer is gone. Though this is not proven, many feel the results.
Yoga has great potential to help improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Though it is not a cure, it can certainly help aid recovering cancer patients in strengthening their bodies and regaining their health. However, it is always important to discuss practicing yoga with a doctor before beginning a program.