There’s a very good reason why most cancer centers offer yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice of breathing, postures, movements and meditation, woven together to create balance, strength, relaxation, calm and clarity.
Cancer patients benefit in several ways from a yoga practice - physically, emotionally and spiritually. Yoga movement increases circulation, strengthens muscles and improves balance. It helps release toxins caused by stress and medication. Yogic breathing detoxifies the lungs, increases lung capacity, clears the mind and creates energy. Meditation decreases heart rate, blood pressure and tension while allowing the brain to enter the alpha state, the optimal state of relaxation when the body’s immune function is at its best.
I began studying yoga years ago before cancer was a part of my life. It improved my flexibility and helped me decompress after a long day at the office or a cross-country flight. But I didn’t understand the full benefits of following a spiritually based practice until my body was broken from multiple surgeries and countless drug therapies. Studying Deepak Chopra’s mind-body-spirit principles pointed me to the discovery of yoga as a life force capable healing and sustaining and embracing my life.
According to Chopra, "any reason for practicing yoga is a good reason. Enhancing flexibility and releasing stress are as noble a purpose as the awakening of spirituality. This is the great gift of yoga – it serves and nourishes us at every level of our being and spontaneously contributes to greater well being in all domains of life."
Yoga and meditation now flow like a river through my life, nourishing my soul, feeding my spirit and coaxing life into these old bones. I drink peace into my heart and calm into my thoughts, making my journey healthier and profoundly happier because of my practice.