5 Ways Yoga Helps Keep Cancer at Bay

5 Ways Yoga Helps Keep Cancer at Bay

About half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States will face cancer during their lifetime. What can we do about it? Hoping to not get cancer is not a plan. Blaming yourself after a diagnosis or recurrence is not a plan. Adding yoga to your daily routine—that’s a plan!

An ever-increasing body of research shows that yoga lowers cancer risk in everyone. Here are five reasons why yoga should be in everyone’s cancer-prevention plan.

Yoga boosts immunity. Not a claim! Research shows the best defense against cancer or cancer recurrence is a strong immune system. Coupled with other research showing yoga increased circulation of our natural cancer-fighting immune cells and meditation improves immune function, it is fact!

Yoga detoxifies the body. Dumping dead cells, toxins, rogue cancer cells, or other pathogens is a job of the lymphatic system—the body’s plumbing and trash-removal service. Yoga increases lymphatic flow using breathing techniques and postures. The heart muscle circulates blood, similarly, yoga uses muscles to “squeeze and massage” internal organs, guiding toxins into the lymphatic system and out of the body.

If stress is a mental toxin, then yoga detoxifies the mind as well. Breathing quiets our thoughts and restorative yoga is the antidote to stress.

Yoga builds bones. How are strong bones linked to cancer prevention? The connection: bones house our bone marrow where new red and white blood cells are constantly being produced. White blood cells form our natural cancer-fighting immune cells. Good reason to keep the house strong.

For 60 years we have known that weight-bearing exercise builds bone. Loren Fishman, MD, researched yoga for osteoporosis showing 85 percent improvement in yoga practitioners over control groups. Besides making bones healthier, yoga is safer, cheaper, and more fun than gym weight-lifting.

Yoga is weight management. Obesity is clearly linked with an increased risk of several cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends 300 minutes per week because exercise reduces obesity and cancer risk.

A yoga as weight management study showed that yoga had a more positive impact on obesity and depression than aerobic exercise. Active forms of yoga burn calories. It is safe, physically accessible, welcoming, improves self-esteem, one's ability to function normally, and ultimately inspires consistent exercise for weight management.

Yoga reduces stress. Research shows that yoga teaches positive ways to manage stress. Studied as a relaxation technique, yoga improvements cortisol levels that sky-rocket under stress or depression. Feeling stressed? Go do yoga.

These sample my favorite yoga benefits to reduce cancer risks. Of course, there are other steps to take – like don’t smoke, wear sunblock and eat healthy. Yoga helps manage toxins in and challenges to your body over a lifetime. But, yoga also helps define life on our own terms. It creates a balance between body and mind. Ultimately, it could save your life.

Tari Prinster, author of Yoga for Cancer is a cancer survivor, master yoga teacher, and creator of Yoga4Cancer (y4c) methodology using contemporary research on cancer and yoga. Yoga for Cancer by Tari Prinster © 2014 Healing Arts Press. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International.

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