What is Yoga?
Yoga means « Union » in Sanskrit. It is a discipline that was founded in India hundreds of years ago and which aims to unify the body and mind through gentle movements and meditation. It is important to remember that Yoga will not directly heal cancer, but it can help you get through this tough time.
Yoga allows you to find a sort of inner peace through relaxation and concentration. It also allows you to stay flexible and feel lighter, providing the sensation of inner well-being. It is also a good form of exercise during chemotherapy as it is gentle on the body.
Yoga during Cancer
No posture or movement is forbidden. It is important to listen to your body and know when to stop. You shouldn’t force yourself if the positions seem too complicated, if you are out of breath or simply if you are not feeling up to it. Your Yoga session should be a pleasurable moment. If you decide to sign up for a Yoga class, it is best to inform your teacher about your health situation.
Which Type of Yoga is Best for Me?
Several types of Yoga exist:
Hatha Yoga: We recommend this traditional Yoga during your treatments. It is very complete as it combines a range of posture exercises (Asana), stretches and breathing exercises that soften and relax the body. These movements focus on the body’s position and alignment of the vertebrae.
Each movement should be made gently and never forced. Breathing is key as it will help you get the most out of your movements (inhale, hold, exhale, hold). Mediation (Dhyana) is also important, it allows you to let go and clear your mind. It can be done by all levels of physical fitness.
Ashtanga Yoga: Very dynamic, the movements are fluid and constant. This type of Yoga is mostly for sports people or people in good health as it requires a good level of endurance.
Kundalini Yoga: Hidden behind its efficient postures is a large amount of reflection and finding inner peace. A large part is dedicated to meditation, accompanied by chanting (mantras). It is mostly for people who are more experienced in Yoga.
Power Yoga: Mostly focused on a series of movements and postures, rather than meditation. It is a modernised version of Yoga.
Yoga Nidra: Through meditation and relaxation, it aims to put the mind in a state of semi-consciousness, separating oneself from their surrounding environment.
Yoga that should be Avoided:
Hot Yoga (Bikram): The sessions are conducted in 40°C (104°F) heat and involve a series of 26 intense postures.
Iyengar Yoga: It requires a good level of physical fitness.
What happens in a Yoga class?
It usually starts with 5 minutes of lying on the floor to calm your respiration. It is just like a warm up that you would find in other sports. Afterwards, you will do a series of movements and postures while you are sitting down, standing up or lying on the floor. The session will finish with breathing exercises.
How often should Yoga be practiced?
It is generally recommended to do 3 hours a week. You can start with 1 hour per week and multiply the sessions each week, but only if you have the energy and feel up to it. No planning is required, you can choose to do two 1 ½ hour sessions per week or spread them out with 30 minutes each day.
Whatever you do, do not force yourself, do any movements that you don’t feel capable doing or any movement that you don’t want to do.
We hope this yoga advice has been useful. Please find below 2 video examples of Hatha Yoga for beginners: