Yoga for Cancer

For Beyond 50's "Natural Healing" talks, listen to an interview with Tari Prinster.  She is the founder of yoga4cancer and the Retreat Project and a breast cancer survivor.  She'll talk about her unique brand of yoga - gentle and restorative methods - that has been taught to thousands: 53 traditional yoga poses to address common side effects of cancer and 9 practice sequences for varying stages of treatment and recovery.  Prinster will explain how yoga can be used to manage treatment side effects, strengthen the immune system, avoid lymphedema, decrease anxiety, reduce pain, and help the body repair damage caused by the cancer and conventional treatments.  She'll also reveal the latest research that supports the physical and psychological benefits of yoga as an aid to recovery and in reducing the risk of recurrence. 

"Yoga, like cancer, changes bodies and minds."
- Tari Prinster

Ten Benefits of Yoga for Cancer Survivors

Benefit 1: Yoga Detoxifies the Body - Many cancer patients deal with a compromised immune system after undergoing radical treatments from chemotherapy, radiation, or taking hormones.  Yoga can address this issue by enhancing cardiovascular and lymphatic drainage - increasing blood and lymph flow helps to detoxify the harmful toxins from the cells that are suppressing immune function.  This is done through various yoga postures that work with gravity, encourage flow of bodily fluids, and compression of internal organs. 

Benefit 2: Yoga Strengthens the Body - A side effect of cancer from the treatment  can cause damage on a cellular and organ level, like with bone cells to cause bone thinning and a weakening of the heart.  A way to rebuild strength gently and gradually is through specific yoga postures that encourage the building of bone and heart muscle.

Benefit 3: Yoga Increases Range of Motion and Flexibility - Cancer surgeries and treatments often create scar tissue around the muscles and joints.  Yoga can not only help with improving flexibility, but also increase range of motion in areas of stiffness and pain around muscles and joints.

Benefit 4: Yoga Keeps the Spine Strong - Breast cancer survivors need back strength after going through axillary node surgeries or breast reconstruction that causes scarring that can restrict movement of the upper body.  Yoga is well known for correcting posture to have better alignment and movement; provide enough space for the organs to work together; and aid in detoxification.

Benefit 5: Yoga Strengthens the Immune System - Cancer patients are encouraged to be hyper-vigilant about  dealing with a compromised immune system.  Medical research has found that yoga can encourage the gene expression of lymphocytes (cancer-fighting cells) of the immune system.  As immunity improves, the other interrelated systems of the body benefit as well.

Benefit 6: Yoga Helps Manage Weight Gain - A common side effect from cancer treatments is weight gain.  To manage this, yoga's active practice can address the metabolic and psychological stresses from obesity.

Benefit 7: Yoga Helps Manage Pain - Patients often experience pain before, during and after cancer.  Yoga is also well known to help reduce and provide relief from the aches and pains that are oftentimes side effects from the treatment of cancer and not from the cancer itself.

Benefit 8: Yoga Helps Manage Fear and Anxiety - This is done by calming the nervous system through yoga postures and various breathing techniques to improve the mood and quality of sleep.

Benefit 9: Yoga Enhances Body Image - Cancer survivors who feel shame or embarrassment from being disfigured can do yoga to feel good from within and let go of stressful thoughts about their body. 

Benefit 10: Yoga Enhances Empowerment and Well-Being - Cancer patients dealing with prolonged internal stress from the traumas of their condition can experience inner peace, calm, and a sense of purpose from regular practice of yoga.


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