Thursday, April 5, 2012

Guest Post: Benefits of Yoga for Mesothelioma Patients

Benefits of Yoga for Mesothelioma Patients

Om – Shanti, Shanti, Shanti…
This Sanskrit chant, which is intended to invite peace to the mind, speech and body, is often recited at the end of yoga classes. While its message can speak to any yoga practitioner, its benefits are twofold for cancer patients, such as mesothelioma patients looking for healing through their yoga practice.
Yoga’s benefits are physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual for some practitioners who wish to connect with their personal faith during practice.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
The series of poses, such as a Forward Bend and Downward Dog, provide patients with a gentle exercise regimen that can help them sleep better and feel more energetic when treatments such as radiation therapy cause fatigue. Spending several minutes practicing yoga can also help stimulate the appetite if it is difficult to eat.
Other physical benefits of yoga include:
• Improved cardiovascular health
• Regulates blood pressure
• Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to promote a relaxed body and mind
Mental Benefits of Yoga
Yoga can help ease the mind.
Mesothelioma patients especially can benefit from the peace and restoration found on the yoga mat as they face an emotional diagnosis.
During the final pose of a yoga class, known as Savasana, patients are typically invited to quietly relax and meditate for several minutes – a technique that has been found to help many mesothelioma patients cope with anxiety, stress or fear related to their disease.
Not sure what to focus on during meditation? Try:
• Thinking positive thoughts about your body’s ability to heal itself
• Sending healing thoughts to the part of your body where the cancer developed
• Reassuring yourself that upcoming treatment sessions will go well
• Imaging your favorite color or a bright white light permeating every cell of your body with healing light
Even simply clearing your mind and allowing it to think less – or worry less – about anything at all will be beneficial during your time of meditation.
Yoga for Mesothelioma Patients
Because mesothelioma does make strenuous exercise difficult, patients may benefit the most from easy styles of yoga such as gentle yoga or yin yoga classes. More advanced yoga classes – such as power yoga or Bikram yoga – may be too demanding on the body.
During a class, if mesothelioma symptoms intensify and you find it difficult to breathe, simply relax into Child’s Pose. This resting pose, where you kneel on the floor with knees together and your torso resting on your thighs with your arms extending in front of you or alongside your body, can give you time to regain and connect with your breath.

Author bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.