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Role of Yoga in Cancer Patients - Benefits and Effects

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Yoga can help reduce cancer symptoms, like anxiety and depression. Read the article below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Shakti Mishra

Published At March 17, 2023
Reviewed AtAugust 28, 2023

Introduction:

Yoga is a practice that is made up of three elements which are asanas or physical poses, breathing techniques, and meditation which includes mindful exercises. Yoga helps reduce stress, anxiety, and tension and increases the mind's and body's flexibility. Yoga helps both physically and mentally in people who have cancer. Yoga helps reduce the side effects of cancer treatment and the disease. Fatigue and weakness related to cancer are very common and connected to physical, emotional, and mental health. It can be present in people before or after cancer treatment. Yoga helps in reducing the fatigue associated with cancer.

How Does Yoga Help in Cancer?

Yoga helps increase mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression present in the individual due to any type of disease, including cancer.

  • Decreases cancer-related fatigue and weakness.

  • Improves sleep cycle.

  • Help in the recovery from surgical treatment due to cancer.

  • Decreases anxiety, stress, and depression.

  • Improves physical function.

  • Decrease the risk of cancer recurrence.

  • Decreases side effects associated with cancer treatments.

  • Helps strengthen the neuromuscular system.

What Are the Benefits of Yoga in Cancer Patients?

The benefits of yoga in patients with cancer include the following -

  • Yoga Improves Bone Health - Certain cancer or treatment for cancer can cause bone weakening, resulting in an increased risk of breakage or fracture. Simple yoga asanas help to get strength back to the bone in a supportive way. Most yoga poses help strengthen the bone, like standing poses can give strength to the leg bones, pelvis, and spine. The poses performed on the hands and knees can strengthen the bones in the arms. They can also increase the strength and flexibility of the spine, thereby increasing overall comfort.

  • Yoga Increases the Immune System Response - Yoga will help increase the immune system response in cancer patients, thereby creating better health by improving immunity. The lymphatic system contains fluid in the body when infection or disease is present to fight against them. Certain yoga poses help move the lymph fluid toward the chest and thoracic duct. This will create the lymphatic fluid to drain down to different parts of the body. Yoga will help flush the lymphatic fluid throughout the body to improve immunity and give better health.

  • Yoga Decreases Depression and Stress - Yoga helps reduce anxiety, stress, and depression and improves the quality of life. Focusing on meditation and breathing techniques will reduce fear and anxiety by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. This will help in relaxation and improve sleep, thereby increasing mood.

  • Yoga Role in Muscle Strengthening - Yogasana helps in improving or strengthening the muscles. Yoga focuses on the relaxation response and movement or stillness in a specific posture that will strengthen the muscles. Various yoga poses can increase the range of motion, flexibility, and strength of the muscles. Yoga can be performed before, during, or after cancer treatment to build muscle strength and flexibility.

What Are the Effects of Yoga on Patients Who Have Cancer?

Yoga can reduce the physical pain and side effects caused by the different types of cancer treatment, including surgical therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Different types of stretches and breathing techniques can reduce the pain and stiffness of muscles present in the body. The yoga poses that focus on the abdomen muscles can reduce digestive problems like loss of appetite, chemotherapy-induced vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and constipation. Yoga poses can also improve the ability to sleep, increasing the ability to function and improve the quality of life. Yoga will help build a positive relationship with the body and mind by reducing discomfort.

Which Are the Yoga Poses That Are Helpful in Cancer Patients?

The yoga poses that are helpful in cancer patients include the following -

  • Seated Spinal Twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana - Sit straight on the floor with both legs stretched. Bend the right leg and keep the heel of the right leg beside the left hip. Take the left leg over the right knee and place the right hand on the left knee and the left hand behind the hip. If the right leg cannot be bent beside the hip, it can be placed straight. Twist and turn the waist, neck, and body to the left side and look above the left shoulder. Keep the spine straight and hold in this position for a few seconds. Release and return to the original position and repeat these steps on the opposite side. These poses help in improving digestion and reducing gastrointestinal problems. This pose increases oxygen supply to the lungs by opening the chest muscles.

  • Legs up the Wall or Viparita Karani - Sit straight on the floor by keeping the leg against the wall. Lie down on the floor and keep the leg and lower portion of the body facing against the wall. Place back and leg touching the wall. Keep both hands stretched outward perpendicular to the body and the spine erect. Relax and take deep breaths. Return to the normal position.

  • Reclined Bound Angle or Supta Baddha Konasana - Sit straight on the floor by stretching the leg straight. Slowly bring the feet together with soles facing each other by bending the knees. The heels should be facing inwards. Slowly lie back on the floor, supporting with the help of the hands. Relax and lie on the floor for a few minutes while keeping the arms stretched out beside the body. Return to the normal position.

  • Lotus Pose or Padmasana - Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position by keeping the spine straight and perpendicular to the floor. Slowly drop the chin towards the neck, breathe deeply, and focus on breathing.

  • The One Leg Posture or Ekapadasana - Stand straight on the floor, keeping the feet together and hand beside the body. Lift the left leg laterally and keep the sole of the left foot against the right thigh, the heel should be close to the upper part, and the toes must be pointing downwards. Balance the body weight. Slowly raise the palms upwards towards the chest area and close to each other. Breathe normally and maintain in this position for a few seconds. Return to the normal position and repeat the steps on the opposite side.

Conclusion:

Yoga has many advantages for people who have cancer. After cancer diagnosis, most people have increased anxiety and depression, sleeplessness, fatigue, difficulty focusing, etc. With the help of yoga, there is a reduction in psychological stress like anxiety and depression. Meditation and breathing techniques allow them to focus their mind and become calm.

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Shakti Mishra
Shakti Mishra

Nutritionist

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