The health benefits of yoga are many and well-documented. Yoga is well-known to be an excellent way of maintaining fitness, flexibility, core strength, and is a way of de-stressing.

What to expect at a Yoga class

The atmosphere of a yoga class is calm, non-competitive and supportive. Your yoga teacher will guide you through simple poses, or asanas, letting you take things at your pace. It is important not to push too far and cause yourself injury.

You need only the simplest equipment: a yoga mat, some loose or stretchy clothing, and perhaps a blanket to keep you warm during the relaxation at the end of the session.

Yoga exercises or poses are enhanced by attention to your breathing: usually you will be instructed to inhale while going into a pose, exhale, then take another breath while holding the pose, exhale again and as you do so you try to move a little bit further into the stretch. This discipline of breathing is calming, and you will find that your confidence soon increases.

Health benefits of Yoga include

  • Flexibility

Flexibility and core strength are improved, and sufferers from back problems often find their pain is alleviated.

  • Digestion

Yoga poses are thought to help digestive problems: indigestion and constipation are both relieved by practising certain poses.

  • Lowering blood pressure

The meditative aspect of yoga is a proven way to lower high blood pressure. The heart beat is also slowed and strengthened.

  • Lymph system

Practising the yoga asanas enhances the lymphatic flow through the body, helping to clear away any toxins, for example, those that accumulate during cancer therapy.

  • Therapy for cancer patients

Insurance companies providing cancer cover often include yoga on the list of recommended therapies for patients who are recovering from a gruelling course of chemotherapy. The thing patients fighting cancer often find most difficult to cope with is the fatigue and debilitating discomfort caused by cancer treatments: both the scar-tissue caused by surgery and nausea caused by gruelling courses of chemotherapy can impact on their quality of life. Cancer patients may be anxious and find it difficult to get enough sleep: many patients say that their yoga classes, which are geared to meet their particular needs, are a life-saver.

As interest in a more holistic approach to healing grows, yoga for cancer patients is becoming a popular therapy. As well as the health benefits outlined above, the greatest advantage for many patients is the sense of unity, well-being and inner peace that yoga can bring.