Yoga, an unsung warrior against cancer
With today's constant media scares, plot holes filled medical dramas and half-baked internet rumours about everything being filled with carcinogens the thought of cancer has spared no one and fills all with anxiety. Almost everyone knows someone or at least knows of someone with a story of cancer. What is more disturbing is the fact that while humans have made such incredible medical advancement, there is still no cure for cancer without what is essentially poisoning oneself with chemotherapy. How many times have we heard people say, “Only if there was a pill to prevent cancer, I would take it everyday.”
We often hear people going through a cancer scare as if the world has come to an end and there is absolutely no solution or at least preventive measure. Well, it is not as bad as we think. It’s just that our fast paced life has left us little time to get a healthy life.
Yoga as a preventive and therapeutic measure
Running, swimming, walking are definitely important and a great way to stay fit. But, think about it; you run for one hour and then get stressed out emotionally for the remaining 23 hours.
So, is there a way to help us lead a completely balanced and healthy lifestyle? Yes and that’s where yoga comes in.
Yoga helps us to insulate our body and mind from stressful situations and environments; and, the key to achieve that is through conscious breathing throughout the day. It is in our human nature to either temporarily stop breathing or breathe less during stressful situations and since we live in a world of stressful situations all around, most of the people have shallow breathing that negatively impacts our internal organs. This helps the cancerous cells in our body to overpower our immune system.
If Yoga is practiced as a lifestyle, there is no logical or scientific reason for anyone getting cancer. And, even then in the fight against cancer, Yoga is an tool. There are so many cases where people have beaten cancer with yoga.
Stories of two cancer survivors
I personally know two extraordinary women who I am proud to call my yoga students and they are living demonstrations, of the power of yoga against cancer.
Ranjana Joshi , a young mother (living in Oman), was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 when she had discovered a lump and a scar during a routine check-up. On March 19th, 2008, Ranjana rushed to India and got operated on March 21st. After the surgery, she underwent six painful cycles of chemotherapy that had made her immune system so weak and made her depressed. And, then during one particular bad month of radiation therapy, the radiation had created so much of imbalance in her hormones that even with tablets and other medication her hormones could not be stabilized and she suffered side effects such as headache, giddiness and been told by the same doctors that she was now more vulnerable to cancer in her uterus due to these side effects.
Ranjana says ”In 2008 I started with hormone therapy, after completion of chemotherapy treatments. The hormone therapy affected my uterus. Early 2010 I started yoga as therapy with Prema Nagesh and then I started feeling much better physically and emotionally.
by 2011, the doctors said I could stop taking Tamoxifin tablets for hormone therapy as my hormones were becoming balanced and after that within 2 months of regular practice of yoga my uterus size reduced from 11 cm to 8 cms and my hormones had completely stabilized and I started getting sensation back in my left armpit and also developed strength in my hand which had become weak during chemotherapy.
I had then began practicing tougher asanas like Chakrasana and Shirshasana and also increased the numbers of Suryanamaskar I did daily and then one day I finished 216 Surya namaskars without a break.”
“I was so thrilled with myself that I started to share my experience with all, especially about how my experience of doing 108 or more Suryanamskar felt like undergoing chemotherapy treatment without any side effects because so much prana (energy) was being generated in me and these cancer cells won’t survive in a body with high Prana. I was practicing pranayama (yogic breathing exercise) very regularly and never missed even a single day which boosted my emotional strength as well. I further went ahead with a teacher training course with My Teacher Prema Nagesh and I now I teach yoga and share my first hand experiences with all especially women. My teacher is very proud of me that yoga has made me evolve in to new human being with a positive attitude.”
Yoga Practice by Ranjana Joshi - Timelines
Benefits: Strengthens the back and core muscles and also inversion helps to increase circulation towards the core and other glands.
Meditation for self-healing ,increases the power to heal and develops optimism (placebo effect)
Consult a dietician before you start any specific diet and Ranjana has very bland Saatvic (vegetarian) diet always.
Remember that most of all it was her dedication, hard work and faith in Yoga which helped her fight against cancer and to maintain her health. She has followed all the asanas in sequence as instructed.
visit our youtube link on Ranjana Joshi.
visit our youtube link on Ranjana Joshi.
(Details of all the above postures are in the yogatherapy4all.com)
Sandhya, a middle aged mother who lives in United States. Sandhya was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2013.
“While living in Memphis, Tennessee, I was an active person participating in all activities at Temple and in the community. Being a teetotaller, non smoker, with no history of cancer in my family, I never thought I would face this day. I was at the local grocery store when my doctor called with his findings. I was immediately admitted to the hospital and underwent 8 cycles of intense chemotherapy. I was left fatigued with no strength and would fall often fall sick with an infection. After 8 months of treatment, I was in remission and was sent home. then after a year, my cancer had relapsed and I underwent a Bone Marrow Transplant. Before the transplant, I had underwent 11 cycles of radiation and 4 cycles of chemotherapy.
All this treatment took a heavy toll on my body. I was weak; resigned to a wheelchair, unable to do anything on my own.
And when I thought I was recovering, I started having difficulty in breathing and had to be admitted in the ICU on a ventilator where i underwent treatment for lung infection for about a month after I went through physiotherapy and also required speech therapy and needed special services to relearn to eat and drink on my own.
This is when I was introduced to Prema Ji's Trained teacher Praveen Rodrigo (who has opened vyaniti yoga in canada) through my friend. Praveen consulted Premaji and she guided me to start simple, different breathing techniques like
Initially, I could hardly do these seemingly simple for two minutes a day. My lung capacity was only 25% and was constantly under a doctor’s care. I made slow progress and increased Anuloma Viloma exercise to 15 minutes every hour. This helped me get back my lost energy.
The best feeling I ever got was during this time was when I went for a follow up and had shocked my doctor with my improvement. I was overjoyed to see the shock on the doctor’s face when the doctor placed the stethoscope on my chest to check my lungs. Usually, he would ask me to take a deep breath to check my lungs and the doctor knew that it hurts me to just take one long breath. But, instead I was breathing freely without pain!! The doctor was pleasantly surprised and said “I don’t care what you did. Just keep doing it.” And, that was the day when I began to truly believed in Yoga. Since then, I have increased the duration for pranayama. A great news came to me two months later when the doctor said that there is no sign of cancer in my scan after which I asked him to reduce the medication, for which the doctor reluctantly agreed. Then again, a month later, when I went for a check up I was told there was no sign of cancer.
By God's grace and Premaji’s continued support and encouragement, I now don’t have any lung issues or breathing problems anymore. After eight months of doing Anulom Viloma, Premaji guided me into doing Kapalbhaati and I will recommend Pranayama to one and all. I not only feel energetic but also feel alert and also have improved memory power. Please do yoga under a guru’s guidance and enjoy the positive changes.”
Now, Sandhya has gained the confidence that she can beat cancer. She is still under recovery and is still not completely healthy yet but with her commitment, I am sure she will return to her full strength and start applying for her old job in no time.
Pranayama is the simple exercise which makes a sick person stand up, an angry/short tempered person to melt down and a depressed person to develop an self-confidence by being positive and develop a “never give up” attitude.
Important - Pranayamas or breathing techniques which both Ranjana Joshi and Sandhya practiced are :
I hope this message will inspire people to consider yoga as a means to fight cancer. Also, if you can lead a yogic life, you will get the opportunity to celebrate life and lead a happy, stress-free life. And, you can be confident that cancer will never knock at your door.
If you or anyone else needs guidance in yoga to fight cancer, please write to us at email@example.com