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July 16, 2020 | 2 minute read

How Can Yoga Contribute to Healthy Survivorship?

If you are a cancer survivor/thriver looking for ways to become self-empowered and take an active role in your cancer journey, yoga may be the perfect solution.

Although yoga is a wonderful way to be physically active, as listed in AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations, it has a lot more to offer. Yoga can also help support you in dealing with the physiological and psychological distress of cancer and treatments as well as making healthy dietary decisions, contributing to an overall plan for healthy survivorship.

Research shows that mind-body practices, such as yoga, have a positive effect on many systems in the body, improve quality of life, reduce the effects of distress (which decreases inflammation thereby boosting the immune system) and create fundamental changes in the functioning of the brain leading to positive clinical outcomes.

What is Yoga & Yoga Therapy?

The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means “to yoke, join or unite” the body and mind so we remain attentive to our actions and stay present in each moment.

Yoga is a movement-based, mind-body practice that typically combines physical postures or movements (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana). Practices can be gentle or strong and may include just one or all three of these techniques. Yoga Therapy is individualized and supports the student in creating self-awareness and self-transformation through making healthy lifestyle choices on a daily basis that move them towards improved health and well-being.

Healthy lifestyle choices that lead to healthy survivorship can be found in AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations.

Where Do I Start?

If you are interested in trying out yoga, check with your local hospitals and cancer support centers as many currently offer online yoga classes geared towards those going through cancer. For example, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center has a beginners YouTube video that will guide you through a yoga flow designed for all levels and abilities. Please consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program.

Navigating life after a cancer diagnosis is challenging, but practicing yoga is one way to take an active role in your cancer journey. If you are looking for more guidance on healthy lifestyle behaviors, check out AICR’s free iTHRIVE program, an educational tool that offers an integrative approach to health. This online program lets survivors create personalized, physician-approved wellness plans, and turns scientific information into fun, actionable activities.

Resources 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428557/
  2. https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.iayt.org/resource/resmgr/docs_articles/iaytdef_yogatherapy_ed_stand.pdf
  3. https://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/ 

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