teaching yoga to cancer patientsBy Faye Martins

How much impact does yoga have on the recovery of cancer patients? Yoga is an art form that is greatly appreciated for its positive effects on the body. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are each enhanced through the practice of yoga and other holistic methods. Yoga is a calm and relaxing method of strengthening the body and ridding it of toxins, making it an ideal exercise for patients who have long-term or terminal illnesses. Cancer is a disease that is growing rapidly in today’s world, but few know the benefits of yoga to cancer patients.


The illness itself is not the only thing that negatively affects cancer patients; the majority of treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, also have long-term detrimental effects. While the symptoms and signs of the disease can be terrible and debilitating, the treatments can be just as harsh on the body. It is important for these patients to find ways to alleviate some of their pain, without medication and more potentially painful treatments, as these things can sometimes be more harmful than helpful, when considering a long-term period of illness.

Metastatic, malignant cancer cells are not the only toxins circulating in the bodies of cancer patients. The remnants of treatment can remain in the body for long periods of time and may produce illness later. Yoga increases blood flow without increasing blood pressure, and gentle poses will assist in balancing metabolic processes and increasing the activity of the lymphatic system, beginning the elimination of these toxins from the system. The slow movements and deep, therapeutic breathing increase oxygen flow in the body, allowing for further toxin removal.


Not only are there physical benefits to teaching yoga to patients recovering from cancer, but the mental and emotional benefits are great. Yoga has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress, alleviate migraines, and relieves tension throughout the entire body. Anxiety and tension have been linked directly to immunosuppressant effects, and by reducing these feelings in the body, patients are increasing their body’s own natural defense against illness, including cancer.

The beginning lessons may be difficult for some cancer patients, particularly if their body has succumbed to the illness greatly, but the benefits of yoga are worth the initial rough start. The deep breathing exercises (pranayama) are also an important aspect of teaching yoga to cancer patients. As time progresses, patients will find that regular, restorative yoga exercises helps them cleanse their bodies and gives them a sense of comfort and ease, washing away their anxieties and worries.

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