By Dr. Sandeep Nayak
As with many types of therapies, one of the main reasons why people with cancer use yoga is because it makes them feel good. Yoga teachers promote it as a natural way to help you relax and cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Generally, it can help to lift your mood and enhance wellbeing. Many patients that I see enquire with me if they could do regular yoga and my answer is always affirmative.
Some people with cancer who have used yoga say that it helps calm their mind so that they can cope better with their cancer and its treatment. Others say that it helps to reduce symptoms and side effects such as pain, tiredness, sleep problems and depression. Yoga can sometimes help you to move around more quickly and easily after surgery for cancer.
However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that yoga can cure or prevent any type of cancer. But there are some studies that suggest that it might help people with cancer to sleep better and cope with anxiety.
Some studies have found that yoga helps reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue and stress for some patients. And it improved the quality of sleep, mood and spiritual wellbeing for some people. Authors have said that overall yoga may be associated with some positive effects on psychological wellbeing for people with cancer.
In 2012, researchers carried out another review of studies that looked at the physical and psychosocial benefits of yoga for people with cancer. 13 research trials were included. In patients with breast cancer the reviewers said that they found that yoga helped to reduce distress, anxiety, depression and tiredness (fatigue). It also helped to improve quality of life, emotional wellbeing and social wellbeing.
Some other studies seem to show that yoga may be able to reduce hot flushes in women with breast cancer. Several other studies are currently looking at whether yoga can help to reduce the physical and emotional side effects of living with cancer or its treatment.
Yoga, as a form of exercise can help a cancer patient in maintaining the level of health that is required for going through the cancer treatment successfully. The same continued after treatment could help by improving overall wellbeing.