6 ways cancer patients can benefit from yoga

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When battling cancer, the symptoms of the disease and the side effects of treatment can be overwhelming. But many cancer patients and survivors are finding that practicing yoga can help combat the physical discomfort of cancer and cancer treatment. Here are 6 ways yoga can benefit cancer patients and survivors.

1.  Yoga lowers stress. Yoga promotes stretching of the muscles and allows more oxygen into the body, lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Yoga also helps you focus on and control your breathing, which lowers anxiety and depression and improves your overall quality of life.

2.  Yoga improves your immune system. Yoga helps keep lymph, a clear fluid produced by the lymphatic system, moving throughout the body. Lymph helps to clear out the dead cancer cells, detoxify the body and maintain immune system function. Yoga can also help with lymphedema, an accumulation of lymph in the body’s soft tissues that causes swelling in the limbs.

3.  Yoga relieves pain. Yoga releases endorphins, “feel-good” hormones that can act as a pain reliever and a happiness booster. Endorphins help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being.

4.  Yoga increases mindfulness. Yoga helps you slow down and become more in tune with your body. The deep breathing associated with yoga can increase body awareness, allowing you to figure out what your body needs, allowing you to take better care of yourself.

5.  Yoga improves flexibility and balance. The slow, deliberate movements associated with yoga help you develop core strength, increase coordination and decrease your risk of falling. 

6.  Yoga can help build community. Practicing yoga with other cancer patients and survivors can help you find others with similar experiences to support you on your cancer journey. 

The Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Port Huron is partnering with Port Huron Yoga to offer gentle/chair yoga for cancer patients. The four-week session takes place at noon on Wednesdays, September 7-28, at Port Huron Yoga, located at 2333 Gratiot Avenue in Port Huron. All cancer patients, whether in active treatment or remission, and a support person is invited to join the class. You’ll learn mindfulness techniques, body awareness positions to minimize pain and how to create more openness with your body and heart. Spacing is limited and proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is required before the first session. 

This program is provided at no charge through the Betty Kearns Cancer Fund at McLaren Port Huron. 

Registration is required to attend. To register, please call the oncology social worker at 810-989-1006.