Yoga as Complementary Therapy

Yoga is not an alternative to cancer treatment- it cannot ‘cure’ or treat any kind of cancer- but it may help relieve some of its symptoms, improve mood and quality of life when integrated into ongoing standard treatment.

Our immune system responds to our feelings, and it could do with less of the stress, anxiety, and depression caused by cancer’s touch. Although it is hard to imagine making friends with an enemy, the illness the patient has been called upon to fight, this is the attitude we need. Yoga and meditation has helped many patients inculcate it. Yoga consists of gentle, low-impact exercises that can be easily adapted to each person’s needs. Its practice is centered around the breath, making it especially effective in “opening the chest” in patients of lung cancer. In turning our attention inward, meditation activates a sense of awe and wonder at the present moment: slowly, we start to become more mindful of our responses, and learn to take control of them. We eat in greater peace, and slowly, learn to treat food as medicine.

According to a recent study conducted by the Tata Memorial Hospital, inclusion of yoga in the treatment of breast cancer resulted in a 15% improvement in disease-free survival (DFS) and 14% in overall survival. It has also been found to prevent the development of lymphedema in survivors of breast cancer, which occurs when too much lymph collects in any area of the body. Diaphragmatic breathing, as taught in yogic practice, increases venous and lymphatic circulation, thus preventing lymph from collecting.
But here, one size doesn’t fit all. As simple and soothing as it may be, yoga can also have side-effects such as nerve damage and stroke, when done improperly or in excess. You need to have the programme tailored according to your own needs and follow it only to the extent your body allows.

Therefore, make sure to:

Consult your doctor;
ask how yoga can be integrated into,
your ongoing standard treatment
Learn with a certified yoga practitioner
Inform your practitioner about your medical condition, in detail
If any posture or exercise feels or begins to feel strenuous at any point, stop immediately

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