Yoga & Cancer

Yoga & Cancer




The sages of ancient India invented a unique technique of keeping the mind free and peaceful. This technique is documented in the yoga sutras of Patanjali. The yoga sutras are like the compilation of answers of an inquiring mind. It opens with the aphorism “Now begins the exposition of yoga.”

Yoga is a great practice to help you heal and recover faster. Yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body.  Daily practice of yoga provides many health benefits to your body such as boosting immunity, improving functions of all the organs, and maintaining a healthy weight. Yoga also provides several mental health benefits such as keeping stress and anxiety away.

Yoga is a science of right living and is intended to be incorporated into daily life. It works on all aspects of the person: the physical, vital, mental, emotional, psychic, and spiritual. Yoga is a means of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions. This is done through the practice of asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha, and meditation.





Importance of yoga in cancer

A study conducted at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in 2003 showed that for women with breast cancer, yoga has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve quality of sleep, physical vitality, and overall quality of life.

Yoga seems an obvious path for cancer patients and survivors coping with difficult treatments and their ongoing side effects. In fact, oncologists and cancer organizations are recommending yoga and exercise as part of a cancer survivors’ recovery and management plan.

Both the American Cancer Society and the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends between 150 – 320 minutes of yoga per week to speed recovery or defend against cancer occurrence and reoccurrence.

5 yoga poses you need to know

These 5 yoga poses are a good way to start your journey. Move slowly through each pose, remembering to breathe as you move. Pause after any pose you find challenging, especially if you are short of breath, and start again when your breathing returns to normal. The idea is to hold each pose for a few, slow breaths before moving on to the next one.



1. Suryanamaskar: also known as Sun salutation. It is one of the popular and common yoga practices around the world. It involves 12 different kinds of poses which focus on different parts of your body. Sun salutation has many benefits such as:


  •                         Increase blood circulation
  •                         Improves body posture
  •                         Balances body & mind


2. Bhujangasana: also known as Cobra pose, focuses on the back muscles, strengthening the spinal flexibility and stretching the chest, shoulders and abdomen.


  •                      Relieve lower back pain
  •                      Improve self-esteem
  •                      Improve sleep


3. Balasana:  also known as Child’s pose creates a moment of rest in your body. It stretches your back and muscles around the hips.


  •        Helps release lower back tension
  •        Increases blood circulation in the head
  •        Activate digestion


4. Uttanasana: Standing forward bend pose is a calming posture that lengthens the hamstring and activates the inner leg. This pose gives the body full stretch.


  • Helps improve posture
  • Increase hip flexibility
  • Relieves back stiffness


5. Marjaryasana : Also known as Cat Pose. This pose provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs. It increases the circulation of spinal fluid. It also stretches the back and neck.


  •  Increase circulation of spine fluid
  • Stretches the back and neck
  • Increases flexibility 




The practice of Pranayama:

Pranayama is the yogic practice of focusing on the breath.  It’s frequently practised with yoga postures. The goal of pranayama is to strengthen the connection between your body and mind. Daily practice of pranayama improves the capacity of the respiratory system immensely. Three types of pranayama you can include in your yoga routine


  1. Anuloma Viloma Pranayama: is one of the seven pranayama or breath exercises used in the practice of yoga. sit in Padmasana and rest your hands on your knees. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril, and inhale the oxygen as much as you can, this will fill your lungs with air. Remove your thumb from your right nostril, as you remove your thumb from the right nostril just exhale. When you exhale use your middle finger to close your left nostril then inhale with your right nostril and remove the thumb from the right nostril then exhale
  2. Bhastrika Pranayama: is a yoga breathing technique that helps pump more oxygen into the body. Sit in vajrasana position. Make a fist and fold your arms, placing them near your shoulders. Inhale deeply, raise your hands straight up and open your fists. Exhale slightly forcefully, bring your arms down next to your shoulders and close your fists.
  3.  Kapalbhati : is a breathing practice in yoga. It strengthens your chest, cleanses your abdominal organs, and energizes your circulatory and nervous systems. Close the eyes and relax the whole body. Inhale deeply through both nostrils, and expand the chest. Expel the breath with forceful contractions of the abdominal muscles and relax. Do not strain. Continue active/forceful exhalation and passive inhalation.


15-20 minutes of the above-mentioned asanas and pranayama will help you improve your quality of life. 

Before starting your journey with yoga you must consult your doctor first.  It is always recommended to learn this yoga from a certified yoga instructor. 

While practising yoga it's very important to wear comfortable clothes and inner wear. Please make sure to wear a cancer bra or prosthetic bra. You can always get this prosthetic bra for breast cancer and cancer bra pads on our website Get it delivered to your home 

Source: History of yoga documentary by Vishuddhi Films, Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Bihar School of Yoga &



Written by: Vidushi Agnihotri

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