Yoga For Cancer

  • by IMAGE

Sighle McDonnell practices yoga in Core Yoga, Glasthule, in Sandycove and Stillorgan. In October 2010 she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She explored and used Yoga techniques to deal with the many side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, also keeping a Video Diary of the sessions as a way of empowering the process and taking ownership of her own recovery . Her restorative yoga classes in her blog set out to share an honest account of "how it is" during Chemo and Radiation. Sighle is recovered now, but the blog continues to attract attention. This piece was lifted from it, written by a guest blogger, Jillian McKee.

Much has been said about the importance of the ability to "be present" in life. Yoga definitely helps increase this capacity. In fact, it is difficult not to "be present" in one's body while engaged in the practice of yoga. Many of the poses require focused attention, concentration and balance, which encourages keeping one's awareness in the here and now. This practice then naturally carries over into the rest of life, even when the practitioner is not engaged in yoga. The regular practice of yoga improves one's overall flexibility, balance and concentration. It also lowers stress levels and promotes a calm, balanced, centered feeling. In a nutshell, the practice of yoga promotes a deep and sustained feeling of inner peace in body, mind and spirit.

Yoga has proven extremely valuable and helpful in fighting and overcoming cancer. There is no doubt that yoga improves quality of life during cancer treatment, even in terminal cancers such as mesothelioma. In some cases, it can even raise mesothelioma life expectancy.? In addition to promoting healing, it can also minimize the stress and side effects of chemo and radiation. A gentle yoga practice during cancer treatment helps the body to process and alleviate toxins more efficiently, improves circulation, lowers pain levels and also reduces anxiety and depression.

A recent article on the ABC News website referenced a study funded by the National Cancer Institute's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They reported that yoga dramatically helped to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments in patients, particularly insomnia and fatigue. From the article:


"Sleep disturbances and fatigue are an enormously burdensome problem among cancer survivors... In the trial, 410 patients who had completed cancer therapy were split into two groups: one that participated in a four-week-long, twice-weekly yoga program, and one that did not. Compared to how they felt beforehand, the survivors who participated in the yoga program afterward reported improvements in sleep quality and fatigue. Yoga participants also used less sleep medication than they did before the program, while non-yoga participants actually increased their use of sleep medication. Patients were enthusiastic about the classes, and 86 percent attended more than half the sessions.?

To read more of Sighle's blog posts and entries go to

For information on her yoga classes go to?

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