In the ancient Sanskrit texts of India, "yoga" is defined as the union of the body and mind. The idea that we can use the mind to observe, reflect and connect to the body gives us the power to discover our own inner strengths.
Yoga helps us listen, support and give our body comfort. In the art of yoga, the body and mind find balance and harmony to create a sense of our well-being. When tension is released, energy can flow more easily in the body and allows a sense of well-being and strength – a balance of body, mind and spirit. Yoga can be used to stimulate, calm, relax, replenish, create clarity, increase strength and give us greater flexibility.
What does a yoga practice involve?
Anyone at any age can begin a yoga practice. There are hundreds of postures (positions) and steps that can be done. Breathing and posture exercises are performed in soft, comfortable and stretchable clothing. The exercises can be modified according to an individual's needs and the feedback of one's own body. An experienced teacher helps the student to adapt to the postures. Some of the postures are designed for specific organs of the body such as the heart, the lungs or the kidneys. Other poses are designed to exercise muscle, nerve and glands in the body. Many positions are for an overall effect.
What has been proven?
Yoga relieves some of the effects of chronic stress and as a result, may strengthen the immune system. On the physical level, yoga increases energy and strength. For many practitioners, ordinary aches and pains are relieved. Yoga may be effective in counteracting depression by stimulating the brain's production of serotonin. It may help to calm the mind and to allow for more peaceful sleep. Most importantly, yoga teaches one the sense to listen, go inside, reflect, respect and be mindful of the body. Through mindfulness we improve our clarity which allows us to function to our highest potential.
Special points to remember
- Always consult with your physician before beginning any type of exercise program.
- By making this information available, neither the Patient Family Education Council nor Dana-Farber Cancer Institute makes any recommendations, promises, or guarantees the effectiveness of this complementary therapy. For any serious condition please contact your doctor before trying any new therapy. If you do decide to try this modality of therapy, please inform your doctor or nurse so all practitioners can work together to help you in the healing process.