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Alternative Medicine: Try Yoga for Cancer Stress Relief

separator When you’re being treated for cancer, the stress can be overwhelming. Even when the treatment’s over, there’s often the lingering stress and worry about whether you’re going to stay healthy. For many people who’ve had cancer and who have recovered from cancer, yoga can offer great stress relief.

Getting your immune system healthy is one thing you want to focus on for sure when you’re dealing with cancer. But the stress of cancer itself can be hard on your immune system. Yoga practice, on the other hand, can create a sense of relaxation and well-being. Simply holding a stretch and focusing on your breath is calming and soothing.

Studies have shown that yoga can help with high blood pressure, breathing problems, mood problems, stress-related disorders, pain management and a host of other conditions. If you have cancer, it would be especially helpful to take a yoga class that’s designed for people with cancer or other illnesses. These kinds of classes are more likely to focus on the relaxation and deep breathing aspects of yoga, not on getting into difficult postures and holding them for as long as you can. And if you’re at a point in your cancer treatment where you feel too tired to actually do yoga, you may get some benefit just by attending the class and listening to the soothing words of the instructor.

Nobody will tell you that yoga classes make tumors shrink. But taking part in a relaxing activity may be just the thing to help you create a sense of well-being during a challenging time in your life. And who knows—you may come to enjoy yoga so much that you’ll want to make it a lifelong practice.

K. Pelletier, The Best Alternative Medicine, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York, 2000.
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