Yoga Can Reduce the Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Every year, over 19 million people receive a cancer diagnosis across the world, and Australia ranks first when it comes to the country with the largest number of cancer patients. Worldwide, there are approximately 50 million cancer survivors. The most prevalent cancer at the moment is breast cancer, which accounts for 12.3% of all cancer cases worldwide, closely followed by lung cancer. A little-known risk factor for lung cancer is toxic exposure that occurred in the workplace or in the military. Over the last century, industrial workers and members of the military had been frequently exposed to plenty of hazardous agents that could lead to lung cancer, such as asbestos, cadmium, arsenic, uranium, and formaldehyde.
Chemotherapy is one of the most usual treatments for cancer, entailing the use of powerful medication, usually delivered intravenously, whose purpose is to destroy the fast-growing malignant cells in your body. More than 10 million cancer patients receive chemotherapy at present, including those who suffer from lung cancer. Lung cancer patients generally have to undergo chemotherapy every 3 to 4 weeks in order for the treatment to work.
However, while chemotherapy is often very effective in keeping cancer under control or even leading to the remission of the disease, the vast majority of patients experience bothersome side effects as a result of undergoing this treatment, including nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, memory and concentration problems, sleep disturbances, as well as psychological issues such as anxiety and depression. A great way to alleviate these distressing symptoms is by practicing yoga. Yoga can relieve both the physical and psychological side effects of chemotherapy, according to numerous medical studies. It can combat fatigue and increase strength and range of motion.
Lung cancer patients can greatly benefit from yoga, as it entails breathing techniques that can help relieve some of their symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and coughing. Deep breathing is one of these very useful techniques. Moreover, certain yoga poses support the respiratory system by expanding the lungs and creating the necessary space for proper breathing. Yoga also increases blood flow through the entire body, which facilitates the circulation of oxygen to the lungs.
A study conducted by the researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center showed that women who practiced yoga twice a week had more energy, less sleepiness, enhanced quality of life, and improved physical functioning in contrast to those who did not engage in yoga. There is a yoga pose meant to reduce the intensity of nearly every side effect of chemotherapy. The following article will explore how yoga and various yoga poses can alleviate certain symptoms cancer patients experience due to chemotherapy.
A whopping 70% to 80% of cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy have to deal with nausea and vomiting, as the drugs used during treatment are very powerful. While there are medications that can alleviate nausea and prevent vomiting, if you struggle with these symptoms as a result of chemotherapy, you may want to look into alternative therapies, such as yoga.
During yoga, blood circulation improves, which means that more oxygen is circulating through your body. The greater amount of oxygen will refresh and rejuvenate your system as a whole. If you engage in yoga on a regular basis, your imbalances will become regulated, and the toxins will be flushed out. As a result, your sensation of nausea will eventually be significantly reduced or even gone.
These are some of the most effective yoga poses to combat nausea caused by chemotherapy:
- reclining hero pose
- legs-up-the-wall pose
- bound angle pose
- gas release pose
- thunderbolt pose
- frog pose
- bridge pose
- cobblers pose
Yoga can also be a natural way to unwind if you experience a high level of stress in addition to nausea, which can worsen the latter. Because this ancient form of exercise combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, it will relax you, and it will also reduce stress. In turn, this may alleviate your abdominal discomfort. There are countless ways in which yoga helps relieve nausea in the long run, such as promoting gastrointestinal health, improving nervous functions, providing anti-inflammatory benefits, enhancing your immunity function, and boosting hormonal activities.
Even more common than nausea, fatigue is experienced by nearly every cancer patient who undergoes chemotherapy. If you also struggle with fatigue, you should avoid intense yoga classes, as they will make your symptoms worse since they are similar to aerobic or gymnastics classes that require a lot of physical effort. Instead, you should attend a yoga class with low to moderate intensity of exercise. Yoga is a natural energy booster, as it significantly reduces fatigue and increases the levels of cortisol, the hormone that regulates a wide range of crucial processes in your body.
The best yoga poses to alleviate fatigue are those that stimulate blood flow through the body and gently stretch the spine. They help fight tiredness and increase the feeling of vitality. Although you may think that drinking one or two cups of coffee will help your fatigue, this will only help temporarily, as exercise will help you get rid of your lethargy for a long time if you do it frequently. Some of the most effective yoga poses to alleviate fatigue are the following:
- half sun salutation
- camel pose
- triangle pose
- chair pose
- mountain pose
- cobra pose
- bow pose
- supine twist
- butterfly pose
A study from the journal BioPsychoSocial Medicine found that performing seated yoga for 20 minutes can help reduce chronic fatigue. Nevertheless, you should always perform yoga under the supervision of a trained professional, as you risk experiencing more unpleasant symptoms if you are doing it wrong or even injuring yourself. Only a yoga teacher can come up with a customized exercise plan for you that includes poses that are suitable and beneficial for you.
Memory and Concentration Problems
A 2016 study conducted by the researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles revealed that practicing yoga was associated with improved visuospatial memory, verbal memory, long-term memory, and neural connections in the brain. Furthermore, a 2014 study found that regular yoga practice enhances recall and working memory, as well as executive functioning. Lastly, in 2015, Dr. Neha Gothe, a Wayne State University professor, and Dr. Edward Mcauley, a University of Illinois professor, discovered that yoga was mostly linked to improvements in attention, processing speed, executive functioning, and memory.
Therefore, yoga improves cognition, as it involves the disciplining and training of the mind, which means that it stretches and strengthens the “muscles” of the brain, making you more alert and less likely to be forgetful. These are some of the best yoga poses to enhance your memory, cognitive function, and concentration:
- camel pose
- bridge pose
- corpse pose
- mountain pose
- chair pose
- tree pose
- eagle pose
- crane pose
- dancer pose
Since practicing yoga quiets your mind and keeps distracting thoughts, including negative ones, at bay, this form of exercise is bound to reduce the fluctuations of your mind and flush out the emotional clutter in your head. As a result, you will focus better on what you want to do. The ancient yogis also believed that practicing yoga is a very efficient way of improving your concentration, and according to recent studies, this proved to be true.
The Cancer Exercise Training Institute Offers Yoga Courses to Patients
As the founder and president of the Cancer Exercise Training Institute, 37-year-cancer survivor Andrea Leonard had a strong desire to have a significant impact on the lives of people who battle cancer. She is a cancer survivor herself and had the misfortune of having 23 family members diagnosed with cancer as well. Andrea found out she had thyroid cancer when she was only 18. She underwent a complete thyroidectomy and treatment with radioactive iodine. Because she was having a very difficult time coping with the side effects of her surgery and cancer treatment, Andrea decided to become a personal trainer with a focus on helping cancer survivors like her after having regained her own energy and physique. This is how the Cancer Exercise Training Institute came into being.
Today, the Cancer Exercise Training Institute offers numerous forms of exercise that are suitable for the needs of cancer patients who undergo treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, including yoga courses. One of the yoga programs you can sign up for is the Yoga Cancer Exercise Specialist, during which cancer patients will learn how to use yoga in a way that will allow them to reap all the great benefits of this amazing form of exercise. The program is designed specifically for cancer patients, as certain physical activities do more harm than good, and only a specialist like Andrea Leonard can create a yoga course that actually helps people with cancer with the side effects of their treatment.
In conclusion, if you struggle with cancer and experience the side effects of chemotherapy, which can be very unpleasant and prevent you from carrying out your everyday activities, we strongly encourage you to sign up for our yoga course, which, if you attend regularly, will rise up to your expectations. Your quality of life will be greater, and you will be able to enjoy the things that once brought you joy once again in the absence of chemotherapy side effects.
About the Author
For the past 25 years, Treven Pyles has been a part of the Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. team. The law firm, which is located in Birmingham, Alabama, specializes in toxic exposure. It has been providing legal assistance to people who developed cancer as a consequence of exposure to hazardous agents in the workplace or in the military since 1990. Treven Pyles is the Administrative Director of the law firm, being responsible for organizing complex operations involving people and information, as well as for planning and maintenance.