Cancer Patients Find Peace and Comfort through Yoga and Meditation, by Jillian S. McKee
Cancer Patients Find Peace And Comfort Through Yoga And Meditation
By Jillian S. McKee
According to “Cancer Watch,” the monthly news magazine of cancer research, something positive is happening to people touched by cancer. Medical studies show that cancer patients who participate in yoga, meditation, and other complementary therapy enjoy an improved quality of life. Cancer — and its conventional treatment of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy — is usually associated with considerable pain, nausea, stress, and impaired overall health. This is true for women with breast cancer, men with mesothelioma, and those with every other kind of malignancy.
Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, believes complementary therapy can help ameliorate the side effects of traditional cancer treatment. A 2005 study examined the integration of yoga into the treatment plans of breast cancer patients. Because yoga deals with the body and the mind, patients reaped both physical and emotional benefits.
Yoga Programs For Cancer Patients
Yoga programs for cancer treatment, such as the one in the M. D. Anderson study, include a number of different aspects. Loosening exercises, breathing exercises, yoga poses, alternate nostril breathing, deep relaxation technique, and meditation are all part of the program. Yoga programs for cancer patients emphasize breathing and relaxation exercises. They exclude certain yoga positions that would be difficult for patients, given their weakened conditions and range of motion. Restorative yoga, used in therapeutic settings, involves a variety of gentle poses including the cat pose, the cow pose, savasana, and supta baddha konasana. Blankets, bolsters, chairs, and other props help support the patient’s weight so almost anyone can participate.
Meditation For Cancer Patients
Researchers have also conducted studies of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). This complementary treatment includes meditation and gentle yoga positions. The research suggests MBSR can improve mood, stress levels, and feelings of fatigue in patients with various types of cancer. This is good news for people facing treatable melanoma, a dire mesothelioma prognosis, or late-stage malignancies. Meditation is extremely beneficial for the taxed bodies and distressed minds of cancer patients. The mind-body process of meditation uses concentration and reflection to relax the body and calm the mind. As reported by the American Cancer Society, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says meditation can reduce chronic pain, high blood pressure, anxiety, and stress associated with cancer. In addition, it improves immune function, increases mental efficiency, and raises self-awareness. All of these things contribute to peace, calm, and relaxation.
Further Study Of Yoga And Meditation
Given the positive findings in the M. D. Anderson study, the National Cancer Institute is funding a follow-up study comparing yoga and meditation to stretching exercises and standard medical care. The study will also look at heart rates and sleep quality in the lives of cancer patients.