9 Ways Yoga Helps Cancer Patients During or After Treatment

Yoga to help cancer treatment

People from all over metro Detroit practicing yoga at the Botsford Cancer Center. Here they demonstrate the "downward-facing dog" which helps to stretch and strengthen the back.

According to recent studies, patients at all stages of health, including cancer survivors, can benefit from yoga. And the benefits are both physical and emotional.

In 2007, Duke University scientists studied women with metastatic breast cancer and confirmed the following benefits in participants:

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Reduced emotional distress related to cancer
  • Boost in daily invigoration
  • Improved sense of acceptance

A 2005 UCLA study found even more health benefits for cancer patients including:

  • Improved appetite
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved bowel habits
  • Feelings of peace and tranquility

After hearing about the remarkable results of these studies, we thought we’d do some of our own informal (and unscientific) research.  We asked attendees of our Yoga for Cancer class if they see any benefits.

Joyce, a caregiver who has several family members afflicted by cancer, said that not only does she see the benefits but her husband notices too.  He actually encourages her to keep going to class because he sees a difference in her stress levels.  She also said that after a yoga class, she doesn’t experience her arthritis pain for about three weeks. After about that long the pain starts to come back and she knows it’s time for yoga again.

Gladys, a 79 year old cancer survivor, says yoga “helps you relax and clear your mind of what you’re going through.”

No doubt, offering Yoga for Cancer in a group setting as we do at The Botsford Cancer Center gives patients a meaningful social opportunity and a chance to practice yoga with professional supervision.

Botsford’s Yoga for Cancer group, in partnership with Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit, meets every Tuesday @ 4:30 PM in the Cancer Center lobby (map).  It’s open to all cancer patients (not just Botsford patients) and their family members or companions at no cost. Everyone is welcome regardless of their physical ability or their mastery of yoga.  (That’s because yoga for cancer patients is gentle in comparison to yoga for the healthy population and students are encouraged to participate at a level they find comfortable).  No registration is required, so we hope you’ll stop in next week!

Have you seen results like these? We’d love to hear how yoga has helped you cope with or recover from cancer.  Please share your experience in the comments below.

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