What Yoga Has Taught Us About Treating Cancer

What Yoga Has Taught Us About Treating CancerTo someone who isn’t familiar with the practice of anti-aging yoga, a downward dog is just an awkward stretch and a seated meditation is just sitting with your eyes closed; however, there’s more to this anti-aging fitness exercise than meets the eye. Yoga is known as an anti-aging practice with several valuable health benefits.

Anti-aging yoga is known to improve flexibility, strength, and balance on the physical side. From a mental perspective, a regular anti-aging yoga practice can help improve your concentration, memory, and other components of cognitive and brain health.

There are emotional benefits to anti-aging yoga as well. Many health and wellness experts consider the practice to be the ultimate stress management technique, and it seems the science experts agree.

Scientific research suggests that yoga can help improve the life of breast cancer patients. Successful physiological stress management during cancer treatment is very essential for coping with anxiety, depression, and reducing cancer symptoms, according to a recent study from the National Cancer Institute. There are several past studies that suggest that psychological stress can lead to tumor growth and increase the risk of the illness spreading to other areas of the body—anti-aging yoga can significantly help to reduce that risk.

The recent study followed 191 women who have undergone radiation therapy. For a month and a half during the radiation treatment, the women would receive three anti-aging yoga sessions or simple stretching exercises. There was also a group that didn’t participate in either of the anti-aging fitness activities.

The women who practiced anti-aging yoga during cancer treatment enhanced their ability to engage in daily activities. The meditation and relaxing techniques associated with anti-aging yoga improved the patients’ general health and reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It was reported that the yoga and stretching groups noticed a reduction in fatigue, while the yoga group experienced greater physical function and overall health.

Breast cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and radiation treatment are commonly known to lead to stress, fatigue, and inflammation. There was another study from Ohio State University that found that a regular yoga practice for a six-month period could lower inflammation by 20% and fatigue by 57%.

What Yoga Has Taught Us About Treating CancerOn the most basic level, light anti-aging fitness exercises, such as anti-aging yoga, help breast cancer patients cope with the disease. For women living with breast cancer, it’s advised to find yoga instructors with experience teaching cancer patients. Gentler variations of anti-aging yoga, such as hatha yoga, gentle flow, or restorative classes will allow the patients to relax and bring peace to the mind, while getting much-needed physical exercise.

Breast cancer aside, practicing anti-aging yoga can improve emotional and mental health for virtually anyone.

Anti-Aging Yoga for Depression, Anxiety, and Mental/Physical Fatigue

Anti-aging yoga, meditation, and other stress management techniques have been studied since the 1970s. Yoga is known to modulate the stress response systems in the body by reducing any perceived anxiety or stress from the person. With anti-aging yoga putting people in a calm state, heart rate and blood pressure both drop, and respiration is also relieved.

A 2005 German study examined women who believed they were “emotionally distressed,” but who participated in 90-minute yoga classes twice a week over a three-month period. At the conclusion of the study, the women experienced improvements from depression, perceived level of stress, feelings of anxiety, energy level, and fatigue, as well as better overall health and wellness. Overall well-being improved by 65%, depression by 50%, and anxiety by 30%. Anti-aging yoga also helped resolve physical pains, such as headaches, back pain, and poor sleep quality.

There have been several other studies on the effects of anti-aging yoga for mental illness. The results found that along with reducing depression and sleep problems, the exercise also benefited patients with schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The specific anti-aging yoga poses linked to reduced depression and anxiety includes lotus position (sitting mediation), bridge pose, fish pose, the cat and cow postures, locust pose, upward-facing dog, child’s pose, and corpse pose (savasana).

There are even studies showing that, like anti-aging yoga, other modalities, such as acupuncture, can effectively relieve the psychological stress from breast cancer treatments, as well as other mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and physical and mental fatigue—consider practicing alternative anti-aging fitness programs like tai chi or qigong.

Whether you’re looking for a way to ease the pain from a disease like cancer, or are just looking for simple stress management techniques to live a healthier life, any therapeutic technique, including anti-aging yoga, is extremely beneficial.

Sources:
“10 Yoga Poses to Fight Depression and Anxiety,” Halogen web site; http://halogentv.com/articles/10-yoga-poses-to-fight-depression-and-anxiety/, last accessed April 2, 2014.
Doheny, K., “Yoga May Help Breast Cancer Patients,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20140304/yoga-may-help-breast-cancer-patients-during-radiation-therapy, last accessed April 2, 2014.
Mahesh, R., “Practising Yoga during Breast Cancer Treatments Helps Improve Quality of Life,” International Business Times web site, March 5, 2014; http://www.ibtimes.co.in/articles/541799/20140305/yoga-meditation-breast-cancer-treatment-fatigue-stress.htm.
Pedersen, T., “Yoga Helps Relieve Depression, Sleep Problems,” PsychCentral web site, January 26, 2013; http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/01/27/yoga-helps-relieve-depression-sleep-problems/50815.html.
“Yoga for anxiety and depression,” Harvard Health Publications web site; http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2009/April/Yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression, last accessed April 2, 2014.


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