I came across this article recently:

Yoga improves cancer-related fatigue, lowers inflammation, research finds 

The article links to a trio of recent research papers, two around yoga and cancer, one around physical activity and cancer.

The research is no great surprise to those of us in the Yoga Therapy world, but its good to see a wider body of science getting behind how Yoga can help us with health and well-being.

Yoga – or any exercise – will never prevent a cancer, nor cure it.  However used appropriately Yoga will help with cancer, in a variety of ways, such as improved toleration of drugs and treatment; reduction in inflammation; a quicker recovery from surgeries.  Of course Yoga’s benefits are not unique here, any light physical activity will help, however where Yoga wins out is beyond the physical, Yoga can help with the health of our physiology – principally the Nervous System –  and our spiritual outlook.

A stable and well tuned Nervous System will help us in so many ways – better adaptation to stress; better immune response; better resilience; to name but a few,. 

Surprisingly – or maybe not – our spiritual outlook helps.  Positive spiritual beliefs, whatever they may be, are a factor in well-being, so much so that as an extension to the often used BioPsychoSocial (BPS) model of well-being, some people use a BioPsychoSocialSpiritual (BPSS) model.

As always the devil is the detail.  Yoga for Cancer Recovery would need to be delivered in a small group or individual setting, by an experienced Yoga Teacher or Yoga Therapist, and should be a rounded, graded practice, erring on the side of less is more – for most people its not the time for strong physical Yoga Asana (poses).  Restorative and Yin Asana, along with Pranayama (breath work) and some internal enquiry is likely to be the suitable approach.

Finally, in the UK the Cancer Act 1939 rightly places restrictions on people advertising cures for cancer.  Yoga is to help, not treat, in such situations.