Last month I attended an ocology training at MD Anderson in Houston. I'm not a doctor, and this wasn't an actual medical conference. It was the 4th Annual Oncology Training for Yoga Teachers.
The major presenters are some of the giants in the research of the benefits of yoga asana, pranayama and meditation for patients undergoing treatment for cancer. Alejandro Chaoul, PhD, Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, and Dr. Richard T. Lee, MD are among several doctors and scientists in the Integrative Medicine arena who have been involved in recent clinical studies about yoga and cancer.
Their findings have been published in medical journals and within the yoga community around the world. Here is a summary of what they are discovering based upon their current research:
1) Chronic stress shortens the telomeres in cells and causes aging, leaving the cells susceptible to a host of conditions and diseases, especially cancer.
2) MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) techniques, such as yoga asana, breathwork, and meditation, help mood, depression, anger, sleep quality, and fatigue.
3) Secondary Lymphedema (a result of the removal of lymph nodes during surgery) can be relieved through movement, isometric exercises, and breathwork - [the major components of a yoga practice, my observation].
I'll be expanding on these studies in future writings, along with other topics including guidelines for safety, communication with medical staff, laughter yoga, teacher ethics, yoga postures and breathing techniques, meditation techniques, and the Indian model for cancer care.
For now, I'll leave you with these quotes from two of the presenters:
Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, Professor and Program Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson: "Cancer patients need yoga more than any person on this planet."
Dr. Ki Shin, MD, Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, says "We'll all be doing yoga in the future".
I'm one of the co-founders of Yoga Bridge. Yoga Bridge addresses the needs of people in any stage of cancer diagnosis/ recovery through the healing practice of yoga in a supportive and nurturing environment.