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Harnessing the Healing Power: Yoga at Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital

On this International Yoga Day, let us explore yoga's benefits for cancer patients at Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.

In 2017, Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre introduced 'Bedside Yoga Therapy', which allows patients to practice yoga during their hospital stay, requiring minimal to zero mobility-based efforts. Patients are taught simple breathing techniques and mudras (hand gestures) during treatment in their wards. The importance of pranayama (breathing exercises) is also emphasised. The aim is to cultivate a positive attitude and help patients overcome anxious thought spirals.


During Chemotherapy sessions, patients are encouraged to practice mudras, asanas (yoga poses), and relaxation techniques at home for the initial days. Patients can sometimes experience fatigue and anxiety during cancer treatment. We encourage them to practice yoga to alleviate symptoms of fatigue and high anxiety levels. After six months, they are encouraged to attend regular yoga classes as they undergo emotional and physical disturbances during their intensive treatment. Similarly, patients undergoing radiation therapy find the motivation to perform asanas at the beginning of the sessions. However, as discomfort may increase towards the end of the therapy, they are taught relaxation mudras to find relief. The yoga practices are tailored to meet each patient's specific needs during their treatment.


Before surgery, patients are encouraged to practice mudras to reduce anxiety. After surgery, yoga mudras are recommended to aid in the healing process. During the recovery stage, once the healing period is over, patients are advised to engage in asanas, pranayama, acupressure, and meditation to boost their stamina. As patients recover, they are encouraged to attend weekly classes Tuesdays and Fridays in the hospital. Patients can also attend these classes virtually as it is relayed live on our Facebook page. These classes provide more detailed yoga techniques.


Patients regularly interact with experts from various fields on yoga, spirituality and philosophy. Notable individuals, such as Dr C N Manjunath (cardiologist at Jayadeva Hospital), Justice M N Venkatacheliyah, and Dr B N Gangadhar (Director of NIMHANS), have participated in these events/talks in the past.


Through these initiatives, Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre aims to support cancer patients on their road to recovery by harnessing the benefits of yoga and promoting overall well-being.


Nandini Shreesha, our esteemed yoga teacher and practitioner, shares invaluable advice to prioritise personal well-being.


Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, according to the principles of yoga, involves aligning oneself with nature. This includes rising with the sun, sleeping early, and having meals at consistent times. Upon waking early in the morning, you can walk in the beneficial morning sunlight. Adhering to the sun's position during meals aids in better digestion. While acknowledging natural cravings, it is advised not to suppress them entirely, particularly during the day when digestion is optimal.


When it comes to food, focusing on freshly cooked and easily digestible meals, especially in the evening, ensures a smoother morning routine. Before sleep, it is beneficial to avoid bright lights and electronic devices. In case of disturbed sleep or lack thereof, Yoga instructors recommend the Brahmari pranayama technique to calm the mind and improve sleep quality. Adequate rest is essential, so it is advisable to establish a routine of sleeping early and ensuring sufficient sleep. Daytime napping should be limited, and Yoga practitioners suggest engaging in yoga practice during the morning.


Making yoga a significant daily habit, similar to prioritising food and sleep, is essential. Continuity is vital to reap the benefits of yoga. At least 15 minutes daily must be dedicated to practising basic asanas, mudras, and pranayama. The yoga sessions should be extended and uninterrupted (Dheergha Kaala Nairantarya).


Being around positive and motivating people to maintain good health is crucial. Limiting screen time and avoiding consuming news or TV shows all day is helpful as they can negatively affect emotions.


To enhance your well-being and way of living, making yoga a part of your daily lifestyle is essential.


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