Gentle Recovery

How Yoga Can Support Your Recovery after Cancer Treatment

The Gentle Recovery Concept is very much grounded in yoga and its teachings; I believe yoga is a practice that offers people recovering from cancer so many benefits. Here are just a few of them;

1.Yoga helps manage fatigue

Fatigue is a common side effect for people being treated for cancer and unfortunately, can continue for some time after treatment has finished. Multiple studies have shown that practising yoga regularly can reduce the feeling of fatigue.  Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the answer to fatigue isn’t necessarily more rest; moving the body through a sequence of yoga poses, synchronised with the breath can draw fresh energy into the body and leave you feeling uplifted and energised. I also believe in the healing potential of Yoga Nidra (Psychic sleep), a guided relaxation technique that guides you into a deep state of relaxation by shifting the brain waves to a more restorative state, allowing the body to rest and heal. Learning to manage fatigue is also about learning to pace yourself and using other strategies, I can support you to help manage this troubling symptom with tips and expert advice.

2.Yoga helps reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety

Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer can be extremely traumatising; the shock of having a life-threatening disease can provoke a whole host of emotions: shock, numbness, disbelief, anger, fear of the future, to name but a few.  Especially when treatment is over, you can be left feeling anxious about the cancer coming back and become hypervigilant for signs of its return, noticing every little ache, pain, lump or bump, this is totally understandable and normal.  However, this continual stress and anxiety can take its toll on the body, triggering stress hormones and putting the nervous system into a perpetual state of ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode. Being in this state of stress can affect your sleep and your body’s natural ability to heal.  Yoga helps to balance and calm the nervous system using a combination of poses (asana), mindfulness, breathing techniques (pranayama) and relaxation, which all stimulate the ‘rest and digest’ part of the nervous system, enabling us to feel calmer.

I will also teach you techniques that you can use in times of heightened stress to help you stay in control and keep grounded.

3.Yoga helps to re-build bone, muscle strength and postural awareness.

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy not only attack cancerous cells but can also affect healthy bone and muscle cells causing them to weaken.

Periods of inactivity and more time spent resting due to cancer-related fatigue and other side-effects of treatment can cause further muscle wastage and bone loss. The 3 major muscle groups that tend to be affected are the core muscles (a group of important postural muscles), gluteus muscles (buttocks and hips) and the quadriceps (thigh muscles).  Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment can cause loss of bone density (osteoporosis) and bone volume (osteopenia).

Yoga is a great way to re-condition the body in a safe and gentle way. Low-impact, weight-bearing poses (where your bones are supporting your body weight), stimulate the production of new bone cells. Moving dynamically in and out of poses, and also in time, holding poses can increase muscle strength and tone. Within all yoga poses, sitting, standing, lying I focus on regaining core stability and postural awareness and poise.

 4.Yoga improves muscle flexibility and joint range of movement

Cancer surgery can leave you with reduced mobility particularly around the areas of surgery and radiotherapy where scar tissue and pain can be present. This, along with periods of inactivity, can leave you feeling stiff, weak and unable to go about your daily tasks with ease. It’s so important to regain functional movement throughout treatment so that you can continue with normal activities of daily living without pain or discomfort, such as reaching up to hang washing on the line etc. I teach yoga sequences that focuses on gently stretching tight muscles and releasing scar tissue that can help bring back mobility to these areas.

5.Yoga helps you take back a sense of control of your physical and mental well-being

Treatment and surgery can take a huge mental and physical toll. It is also very common to feel disempowered after most-likely months of having treatments done to you. Your life has most-likely been taken-over by medical appointments and having to make huge decisions about your treatments. Yoga can help you take back some control of your body and mind because it promotes physical and emotional wellbeing, empowering you with a self-care practice that can nourish you from the inside out.

If you, or someone you know would like expert support in their rehabilitation after a cancer diagnosis then please do contact me India Gooderham


India Gooderham

India Gooderham’s background is as a Specialist Physiotherapist working in oncology and palliative care in the UK. She is now working as a Cancer Exercise Specialist and Cancer Yoga teacher and is founder of ‘Gentle Recovery’, an online rehabilitation and wellness platform for people affected by cancer. Her mission is to serve, educate and empower people at any stage of their cancer journey through exercise, yoga and wellness online programmes and 1-2-1 online coaching.

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