Let us look at what scientific studies say about the role of yoga, meditation, and pranayam in treating cancer.
Adjunct treatments include relaxation therapies such as meditation, hypnosis, yoga, art, music, tai chi, and qi gong (Elkins et al., 2010). Fatigue in cancer survivors disrupts normal functioning and quality of life. Nonpharmacologic approaches are being tried to provide relief (Bower et al., 2014).
Ayurveda and TCM emphasize the ability of the body to self-heal. It is now understood that the neural system is constantly going through a cycle of death and renewal. Neurons die, and new neural connections are created. Kandel, the neuropsychiatrist awarded the Nobel Prize in 1990, found that if we do not use neural connections, they begin to shrink and die. We do appear to have the ability to reshape our brains.
Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book—You Are the Placebo—presents numerous case studies on the self-healing ability of the brain (Dispenza, 2014)
Yoga and meditation are emerging as popular nonpharmacologic support treatments in cancer treatment and management. Yoga helps calm the mind and is said to liberate it from suffering.
The reviews showed consistent benefits in improved psychological functioning, reduction in stress symptoms, enhanced feeling of well-being (Ott et al., 2006). A meaningful change was observed in cancer patients who were given meditation sessions (Foley et al., 2010).
Nine studies conducted on cancer patients and survivors showed modest improvements in sleep quality, mood, stress, cancer-related distress, cancer-related symptoms, and overall quality of life (Bower et al., 2005). Breast cancer patients who practiced yoga showed some positive results (Smith et al., 2009; Mustian et al., 2010).
Yoga practices by cancer survivors 65 years and older helped reduce cancer-related physical and mental fatigue and reduced side effects (Sprod et al., 2015). A 7-week yoga program by breast cancer survivors showed improved quality of life and physical parameters (Culos-Reed et al., 2004). Beneficial effects of yoga were observed in patients who had not been exposed to chemotherapy (Moadel et al., 2007).
In the future, this form of health management in which discipline, physical exercises, breathing, and mediation play a part will continue to attract the attention of researchers. As evidence of its efficacy emerges, this has the potential of becoming a separate wellness management stream on its own.
Reading references from my books: