A Brief Yoga Tutorial for Cancer Patients and Care Partners

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Topics include: Exercise and Fitness

People don’t have to do difficult poses or meditate for long periods of time feel the benefits of yoga. Whether you are in treatment, beyond, or supporting someone on their journey, yoga can help bring inner peace and well-being. During this short, guided practice designed for cancer patients and care partners, certified yoga therapist Raquel Jex Forsgren leads the panel into a deeply relaxing state by increasing awareness, incorporating light movements, calming the mind and using specialized breathing techniques. Patient Power Co-founder and care partner Esther Schorr also shares her experience integrating yoga practice into her life and why she wishes she did it sooner. Watch now to see if you can sense the difference.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene Corporation, Genentech, Helsinn and Novartis for their support. 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

There are so many different things we can do with yoga, the postures, the breathing, the imagery, as Dr. Subbiah talked about, and deep relaxation, which multiple studies have shown that can actually reset and rebalance someone's nervous system.  So talk about mind?body and being able to control that yourself.  

So if you'd like to go you through a few techniques now we can do that.  What I would do is invite all of you who are viewing the program to do it with us and see if you can sense the difference in just a few minutes of doing some of these very simple practices, and then what you can do after this is recorded come back to this video and watch the practice again and just implement these, like Andrew said, a little bit on your own.  

So what I'll ask all of you to do, even those of you that are on—joining us with Andrew—and Dr. Subbiah, you can do it as well—I'd like all of you to feel really comfortable, just to sit in your chair or if you're watching this in your bed lying on your back, just wherever you are I want you to just simply close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing that.  And immediately feel the surface of whatever it is that's supporting you, the chair, the bed, see if you can sink into it, even 5 percent more than you were initially. 

Wherever your hands are, feel the bottoms of your hands, maybe the bottoms of your feet, your toes, your heels.  Just feel the body itself.  Now notice your breathing and don't judge it, just notice what it's doing, if it's nice and slow and fluid as you inhale and exhale or shorter little breaths or sticky or clunky in any way.  Don't analyze it.  Don't go into any thinking other than just noticing.  

Begin to expand your muscles in your ribs as you take your next inhale.  Just think about expanding your ribs out just a little bit more, taking two more nice, slow inhales and exhales.  And I want you to bring to mind one thing you're really grateful for today. One thing.  The next before we move on, bring to mind a goal, an intention. It could be how you want to feel for the rest of the day, emotionally or physically.  How do you want to feel or what do you need?  Beautiful.  

Softly begin to open your eyes and bring your hands right in front of your heart with your palms placed together.  We're going to do just a few movements of our arms so that you can see what it's like to connect movement, your body and mind and breath together, and also thinking about lung cancer just something that helps expand the lungs and just activate all of those muscles themselves that need to be nourished.  

So as you inhale just open your arms like a cactus or goal post.  And you'll need to adjust this.  If you have had surgery along the central plate, take it nice and easy, just open, inhaling.  As you exhale bring your arms together, touching your palms together, elbows and forearms.  Inhale, open the arms again.  Exhale, closing the arms together.  Just take two more only moving with your own breath.  And closing.  One more time just like that, beautifully opening and relaxing.  And releasing the palms back down on your hands.  

Close your eyes one more time. I want you to notice if anything has changed within your body, your mind or your emotions, and there's nothing wrong if nothing's shifted.  I just want you to notice.  And softly blink open your eyes again because I want to show you and have you go through with me one of the best anxiety-reducing breathing techniques that can be done. It's published in the literature. 

It's called alternate nostril breathing.  You can do this while you're waiting at the doctor's office for results, if you starting to feel panicky or anxious, when you're inside an MRI machine or a CT scan, when you are just waking up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts and you can't seem to shut them off.  So you'll take two fingers, sometimes it's the outer fingers. But sometimes with arthritis in older hands it's a little tougher, so I like to use two fingers, you're going to bring them up to your nose, and you'll be closing off one nostril at a time.  And I want you to breathe normally and naturally, okay.  So this isn't anything forced.  

Close off the right nostril first, and just delicately push it.  You don't have to push it clear into your nose.  Just delicately push it.  Exhale all the way out the left side of the nostril.  Then inhale through the left nostril, exhale out the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, exhale out the right nostril.  We're going to do three more of these.  Inhale through the left, exhale out the right.  Inhale through the right and exhale a little longer out the left.  One last time.  Inhale through the left and exhale longer out the right side.  

Bring your hands back down to your lap and close your eyes again.  Take a nice normal, natural breath.  And I want you to notice what's different in your breathing, if anything. Just notice it.  Notice your heart beating.  Come back to that intention or that goal you set for yourself.  And softly blink open your eyes with a smile. I'm expecting all of you watching to be smiling even though I can't see you.  And Namaste.   

That's in a nutshell what I would say.  So that was about five minutes.  You tell me what you noticed.  How did you feel after doing it?   

Yes, that's the most common description.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on June 25, 2019