Cancer patients battling all types of this illness from the aggressive forms like mesothelioma to more treatable, early stage cancers are all facing similar physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms are caused by tumors and their effects on the body, but also by the treatments used to fight them. Traditional treatments are important, but more patients need to be aware that there are complementary practices that can help them feel better while fighting cancer. These include yoga, and it’s amazing what this ancient practice can do for someone battling this terrible illness:
Yoga invigorates and reduces fatigue. Fatigue is a common symptom of cancers of all types and treatments like chemotherapy. Living through rounds of chemotherapy can cause a bone-weary fatigue that makes doing anything a major uphill battle. If a cancer patient can get up and try yoga, though, it can make a real impact on energy levels. Researchers have investigated this and found that patients practicing yoga regularly report less fatigue than those that do not.
Yoga reduces stress hormones. Cancer causes stress; there is no doubt about that. From the moment a patient gets that diagnosis to fully realizing what it means and then going through rounds of treatment, living with this disease is scary and stressful. Studies have found that yoga can actually reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. For cancer patients this means finding relaxation and calm in a sea of uncertainty and anxiety.
Yoga boosts mood. Along with stress, cancer patients are at risk for experiencing mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Yoga is a proven mood booster because it reduces stress, but also because it can give anyone, including cancer patients, a healthy coping mechanism for negative emotions. The focus on the body and mind helps to redirect these bad feelings and bring about a sense of calm and peace that lasts beyond the yoga session.
Yoga helps control some side effects of cancer treatment. Stress, fatigue, and depression are not the only negative things that cancer patients experience on their journeys. Treatments cause a lot of side effect, most commonly pain, fatigue, and nausea. Yoga is known to reduce pain, possibly by increasing a person’s tolerance to it, but may also help reduce nausea and other symptoms that plague cancer patients and make life less enjoyable. There are many positive and amazing benefits of yoga that cancer patients will experience if they give it a try. It is important to remember, though, that most of these patients have physical limitations. If you are battling cancer you probably cannot complete a typical yoga class, but the good news is that yoga is highly adaptable. For example, there are restorative yoga classes—sometimes held at hospitals or medical centers—and these use gentle, modified movements and a focus on breathing and mindfulness to help all kinds of patients find relief from illness. Any cancer patient who can get out of bed and whose doctor has given the ok should consider trying gentle, modified yoga to get all of these amazing benefits.
Further reading on Yoga for Mesothelioma Patients can be found here