The symptoms of mesothelioma, such as chest pain and difficulty breathing, are hard enough to deal with. While there are various treatments that can alleviate these problems, they may come with side effects. Both radiation and chemotherapy are associated with fatigue, while surgery can leave some patients with residual pain. Furthermore, the stress of living with a malignant disease can cause sleepless nights and emotional distress.
Just because mesothelioma can cause respiratory difficulties and cancer therapy comes with side effects does not mean that you have to accept all of this as the new normal. It is important to talk to your doctor, who can help you improve and maintain an optimal quality of life. He or she may even recommend complementary or alternative forms of medicine in addition to your standard mesothelioma regimen.
When it comes to mood and stress management, you may also find that yoga is especially beneficial.
More than 5,000 years of relaxation
People may think of yoga as a form of exercise that turns limber 20-somethings into pretzels. As trendy as yoga is, you can hardly call it a fad, especially considering the fact that it’s been practiced for more than 5,000 years.
And yoga is not just a form of exercise. It is a multidimensional mind-body regimen that has a philosophy based on the concept of prana, which practitioners describe as the life force. A well-rounded yoga routine will simultaneously address meditation, ethical standards, a healthy diet and physical movement. That may explain why the practice is called yoga, which is a Sanskrit word that means “union.”
The ultimate goal of yoga is the attainment of pure awareness, known as Samadhi. This is achieved through meditation, breath control and deliberate movements into postures known as asanas.
Yoga first gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1880s, following the English translation of an ancient book that described the practice’s philosophy and exercises.
The benefits of yoga for mesothelioma patients
A disease as physically and mentally draining as mesothelioma may make patients weary of any physical activity, but exercise is still important to pencil in. Luckily, yoga is a non-aerobic workout that can help people maintain their strength and increase relaxation.
One team of scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles decided to review the medical literature that described the impact of yoga on the lives of cancer patients.
“Nine studies conducted with cancer patients and survivors yielded modest improvements in sleep quality, mood, stress, cancer-related distress, cancer-related symptoms, and overall quality of life,” the researchers wrote in the journal Cancer Control. “Studies conducted in other patient populations and healthy individuals have shown beneficial effects on psychological and somatic symptoms, as well as other aspects of physical function.”
How to find the right instructor
If yoga sounds like something you would like to try, remember that the regimen is meant to complement standard medical techniques and treatments. Be sure to discuss your interest with your doctors first. They can help you decide what level of physical activity is appropriate.
Some medical providers facilities offer referrals to yoga classes and may even have some programs on-site. If you prefer or need to look for your own teacher, there are several ways to make sure you are working with someone who is qualified. Look for instructors who are affiliated with organizations such as the Yoga Alliance or the International Association of Yoga Therapists, both of which have developed standards for training teachers.
Also, before you begin any regimen, be sure to discuss your health situation with any prospective teacher. Make sure that he or she knows how to accommodate any limitations you may have and modify any exercises accordingly.