(Last Updated on : 09-04-2013)
Cancer or 'malignant neoplasm' is a class of diseases in which a group of cells exhibit uncontrolled growth, attack and sometimes metastasis or spread to other locations in the body. These three malevolent properties of cancers distinguish them from benign tumors, which are self-limited, and do not overrun or spread. Most cancers form a tumor but some, like leukemia, do not. Cancer may affect people at all ages, even fetuses, but the risk for most varieties increases with age. Cancer is usually not curable and causes death of majority of sufferers. It can cause due to various factors like hereditary disorders, failure of immune system, hormonal imbalances, viral infection and so on.
There is no scientific theory that claims of curing Cancer. However, Yoga is a powerful tool for healing the individual suffering from Cancer; one should again remember that it does not claim of curing the disease. Yoga can help reinforce the immune system, thus soothe the mind and body of the patient. For people suffering from cancer, Yoga often proves to be a real source of empowerment. In yoga for Cancer, usually the body undergoes practices of physical postures or Yoga asanas that invigorate and balance all the systems within the body. These yoga postures have their effect on circulatory system, respiratory, digestive, nervous system, musculoskeletal, endocrine, reproductive and urogenital system as well.
Yoga practice in case of cancer is always patient specific, depending upon which parts of the body are affected, the type of cancer one is suffering from (or had), and the patient's physical abilities. The physical exercises and yoga asanas work in a number of ways on the internal organs and the integral systems of the body, especially the nervous system. Yoga practice also strengthens the joints, muscles and ligaments. Yoga affects the Cancer patient's breathing, posture, circulation, digestion, elimination, plus physical strength, stamina and flexibility. When practicing a particular asana, the Cancer patient must do what he / she can without exerting much pressure on the limbs and generating more pain. There may be some discomfort, but going to the point of sharp pain will not benefit the practitioner; rather it may worsen the situation. Often the asanas seem easier if the patient actually practices less and in a limited pattern.
The Yoga sessions for cancer help the cancer patient to cope with the traumas that come with the diagnosis of the disease and emotional changes come with shock, fear, anger, guilt, anxiety and grief to name a few. According to Yoga, the most effortless breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques go a long way in helping the patient deal with them. They can also be of significant help in dealing with the anxiety of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation as well. Practicing Pranayama, meditation and relaxation help in reliving tension. When the tension is released, energy can flow more easily throughout the body and allow patients to experience a sense of well-being and harmonises the body, mind, and spirit. The term Pranayama combines 'prana', breath, with 'yama', meaning extension or control, and describes a crucial practice in yoga. This "science of the breath" involves attention to inhalation, exhalation, and retention. If done properly, they can dissolve stress and emotional excitation, freeing the mind from anxiety.
Cancer is a broad complex of illnesses in which a weakened immune system cannot cope with the production of damaged cells. Of course yoga is not a "cure" for cancer but it can help to strengthen the immune system and encourage the inner healing forces. The person is in this condition can practice yoga asanas like Sukhasana, Parvtasana, Padmasana and others. It works in various ways like calming the nervous system and alleviating the stress and anxiety which lower immune functioning and hinder healing, improves respiration, releases tension and restores balance and calm through the breathing techniques. The meditative asanas are very effective in case of Cancer patients, since it develops the detachment and clarity that enables the individual to acknowledge and accept the realities of the situation and to cope with the fears. The cultural asanas help in clearing toxins, increases energy levels and enhances the functioning of the internal organs and systems. The simplest of yoga breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques can also help in managing the stress, anxiety and pain of cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Yoga offers efficient and practical tools with which one can help himself and mobilise the inner resources. Yoga is empowering because the person is doing something for his own self.
With the practices of concentration, (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana) which, a Cancer patient can focus and let go of nagging preoccupations. Asanas like the Balasana might be modified according to the patient. Asanas help to correct the vertebral column and they balance the muscular tone as well. Cancer is one of the biggest killers in the contemporary world. If detected in the earlier stage, the practice of Yoga brings a great change in the patient. Through meditation they develop enough peace within themselves and it helps the healing process. One should also practice Yoga Nidra with inner visualizations of regeneration of the body with proper resolves.
While practicing Yoga, the Cancer patients can connect more strongly to their body and begin to experience self-empowerment and well-being. Yoga brings about improved sleep pattern. As they breathe and meditate, their minds grow more clear and steady. The physical benefits of yoga seem quite obvious to a cancer patient. The range of motion, flexibility, strength, relaxation, and a sense of bodily well-being are enhanced by practicing these postures. But there is an additional, more mystical benefit of yoga for the Cancer patients.
- The Yoga asanas prescribed above should be strictly performed under the supervision of an experienced Yoga teacher.