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Yoga for Cancer

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient mind-body health system. It began in India more than 5,000 years ago. It has been used in the U.S. since the 1800s. Yoga uses slow movement, precise posture, meditation, and breathing exercises to reach a relaxed state.

Can yoga help people with cancer?

Yoga may help some people with cancer. As part of your cancer treatment plan, it may:

  • Create a sense of well-being

  • Improve quality of life

  • Provide relaxation

  • Reduce stress

Yoga may help ease some symptoms linked with cancer. But scientific evidence does not support yoga as an effective treatment for cancer or any other disease.

How does yoga work?

Yoga classes may be offered at a cancer center, as an adult education class, or in health clubs and community centers near you. Also, you may consider using an instructional book, online video, or DVD to learn correct yoga exercises and techniques.

While each yoga program is unique, some of the basic methods are the same. They include:

  • A yoga meditation session that takes about 20 minutes to 1 hour

  • Sitting in an upright position, performing slow, gentle movements, and taking slow, deep breaths that cause the stomach to swell

  • Guided relaxation, meditation, chanting or thinking of a meaningful word or phrase, or visualization

Are there any possible problems or complications linked to yoga?

To date, no scientific evidence shows that yoga can affect cancer or any other disease. There are some things to consider before you start:

  • The basic goal of yoga is not to push yourself beyond your limits. Yoga involves moving the body into unique positions. Some may be hard for a person with cancer.

  • There are many different kinds of yoga. Ask for details about the style you're interested in. Also, be sure to practice yoga with a well-trained instructor.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about yoga. Ask if there are any special precautions you need to take. You can also ask if they can advise a yoga style or instructor.

Yoga, as part of your cancer treatment plan, can be pleasant and productive. It should not replace the care and treatment provided by your cancer care team.

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