Yoga combines exercise (postures, called asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation…a system that has been scientifically proven to:
- Reduce stress (and stress hormones), depression, pain, fatigue and insomnia
- Improve cardiovascular and physical fitness
- It may even slow aging (by increasing the activity of the anti-aging protein, telomerase)
*Many of these effects (aside from improving physical and cardiovascular fitness) can be obtained simply with meditation.
I’m a fan of recommending Yoga for my patients, as it is very accessible to most people. As a patient with cancer (or their caregiver), yoga can be done without requiring significant physical stamina, strength or flexibility…but you will need to find an appropriate style, instructor and class that suits your specific needs and limitations. To learn more, here’s a great guide.
A typical Yoga session can last between 20 minutes and an hour, and can be done in the comfort of your home or in a group class. Looking for a yoga class near you? Check out this useful finder.
*Warning: If you are sick, dehydrated, or pregnant “Hot Yoga” (or “Bikram Yoga”) can be harmful. This form of Yoga is practiced in a very warm, humid room (usually between 95° and 105° F), which can lead to heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration in susceptible individuals. If you are undergoing radiation therapy, warm temperatures can exacerbate the skin inflammation from radiation (radiation dermatitis.) Discuss this with your physician before taking one of these classes.
Check out this series of free online videos, “Yoga for Cancer“, created by yoga instructor Denise Hopkins.