As a yoga teacher and daughter of a cancer survivor, I collaborated with my mother to create a yoga class that could provide an accessible and uplifting experience for any stage of cancer; for those newly diagnosed, receiving treatment, or in remission. Available online so it is easily accessible to all, my Yoga for Cancer Survivors class is a healing combination of yoga postures, deep breathing, and meditation designed to support all stages of cancer coping and recovery.
Here are some of the benefits of yoga for cancer survivors:
Yoga can strengthen the immune system by reducing stress.
Practicing yoga can ease the stress and strain associated with the struggle of cancer by inviting you to quiet your mind, release negative emotions, and find rest. Research has shown that deep breathing can significantly decrease stress by subconsciously tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system to help you relax. Reducing stress can strengthen your immune system to promote healing on the path of recovery. During the Yoga for Cancer Survivors class, participants will be guided through deep breathing exercises as they hold each yoga posture in order to achieve a state of deep relaxation.
Yoga can alleviate muscle soreness and strengthen bones.
The stress of cancer can cause musculoskeletal weakness, which contributes to overall soreness and pain. Practicing yoga postures helps gently restore strength and length to weak muscles while helping to increase bone density through weight bearing and balancing. Specifically, postures in this Yoga for Cancer Survivors class such as Spinal Balance and Cat/Cow Breathing serve to strengthen your innermost spinal muscles to help alleviate back pain. In addition, postures such as Half Moon Pose and Supported Back Bend help to lengthen tight spinal and frontal muscle groups to promote better posture and an increased sense of well-being.
Yoga can help decrease nausea and pain.
Clinical research continues to show that yoga can help decrease nausea and help manage fatigue during and after cancer treatment. Deep breathing can decrease nausea by bringing more oxygen to your brain and shifting the focus away from the nausea and in into the conscious act of breathing. As you practice a yoga posture, you release natural endorphins and progressively relax your muscles, which can help you cope with nausea and discomfort.
The goal of my Yoga for Cancer Survivors class is to provide an opportunity for all cancer survivors to feel a sense of power and strength. Once you learn the correct alignment of each posture, you can practice any posture in the series at any time based on your needs. Repeated yoga practice will yield the greatest benefits and catapult you into a space of peace, healing, and empowerment.
You can download or stream this class at YogaDownload.com. Proceeds from this class go to the American Cancer Society.