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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Yoga Helps the Body Cope with Cancer

Sep 03, 2015 04:05PM

Individuals with a cancer diagnosis face stress in many forms. The emotional stress of the news, the physical stress of the disease on the body and the pressure of managing personal relationships during this time can put the body’s sympathetic nervous system (SNS) into overdrive, causing difficulty with sleep, digestion, elimination, growth, repair and cell reproduction. Yoga acts as a counterbalance to this stress, allowing individuals to relax, breathe, meditate and clear the mind.

Practicing yoga alters the chemistry of the body. The blood pressure and heart rate go down and students feel more relaxed, clear-headed and self-assured. These are all hormonal changes triggered by the increase in the production of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin that yoga encourages. Endorphins help reduce anxiety and tension and serve as natural painkillers. Dopamine controls blood pressure, insulin production and neural functioning and serotonin helps with sleep.

Yoga also helps to lower cortisol levels in the body, helping relieve inflammation. The gentle pressure on the bones that yoga provides also helps the body combat osteoporosis, a common problem for cancer patients and survivors.

In addition to stress reduction, yoga and exercise help to tone to the muscles and develop the strength needed for functional movement when disease, surgery or treatment creates an imbalance. The energy of the asanas and the improved balance provides a sense of accomplishment that stays with yoga practitioners long after they leave the mat.

When properly done, a yoga practice can help promote a positive outcome and provide a better quality of life.

Source: Lin Goldkrantz, Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist, registered yoga teacher, certified personal trainer and holistic nutritionist. For more information, email [email protected].

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