Yoga Seeks Balance In The Lives Of Cancer Patients

This is guest post by Jillian McKee ( )

Everyone has heard about the mental and physical health benefits of yoga. More and more health-conscious individuals are turning to yoga and meditation programs. But can yoga help cancer patients? The research suggests that it can.

In May 2011, Cancer Treatment Centers of America reported a study by the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The study examined the benefits of yoga for women undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer. The research found that women who used yoga had improved physical functioning and a better quality of life.

All types of yoga can have benefits for all kinds of cancer patients, including those with rare aggressive cancers like mesothelioma that is caused from asbestos exposure and other terminal illnesses. According to Carla Warneke, a yoga instructor at M. D. Anderson, the many benefits of yoga include increased balance and flexibility, improved circulation, an elevated mood, and better sleep.

According to Warneke, “People who do yoga also tend to adopt better eating habits and take better care of their bodies,” Warneke said. “And, living a healthy lifestyle can lead to cancer prevention.”

While most people think of yoga as exercise, the ancient Indian practice actually emphasizes oneness. It integrates the mind, body, and soul. More cancer doctors today are recognizing the benefits of yoga, recommending it as complementary therapy alongside conventional medical treatment.

There is a yoga style for every personality, and cancer patients should try different styles to see what works best for them. Ashtanga yoga, also known as power yoga, is an athletic style of yoga. With its aerobic pace, it provides a good cardiovascular workout. Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, strengthens the body through challenging postures. It promotes sweating and muscle relaxation, and gets the heart pumping.

Kundalini yoga is a meditative style of yoga. It focuses on breathing and chanting, providing increased flexibility and mental clarity. Hatha yoga, which includes many different styles, is typically a gentle style of yoga. It is a good choice for cancer patients, especially those for whom intense physical activity is not recommended.

No type of yoga is better than another, because all types stress balance of the mind, body, and emotions. Cancer patients should talk to their doctor before starting a yoga program. A yoga instructor can help them find a yoga style suitable for their type of cancer or method of treatment.