Yoga is a form of low-impact exercise that involves the practice of precise posture and deep breathing to promote meditation and relaxation. In treating cancer, yoga has been proven to improve quality of life by alleviating some side effects of treatment, such as depression, insomnia, pain, fatigue and anxiety.
The yoga program at Fox Chase began three years ago in the Women’s Cancer Center as a pilot program, based on the work of our occupational therapy team in treating lymphedema patients. Today, our yoga program is run by our psychiatry department.
Fox Chase offers a chair-based yoga class for cancer patients and their families and caregivers taught by a certified yoga instructor who specializes in a gentle yoga regimen specialized for cancer patients that accommodates the abilities and limitations of each participant. The class emphasizes the stress reduction aspects of yoga through breathing techniques, meditation, deep relaxation and mental imagery to help guide participants to a state of peaceful awareness.
No previous yoga experience is required to take our class, and scholarships are available.
How does yoga help?
Yoga techniques affect the body by quieting down the sympathetic nervous system, which accounts for the “fight or flight” process, and engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells the body that it can relax.
Yoga has been proven to elicit the “relaxation response,” a term coined by Harvard Medical School researcher Herbert Benson to describe a phenomenon in which the following physiological changes take place:
- Metabolism decreases
- Heart rate slows
- Muscle tension reduces
- Breathing rate slows
- Blood pressure drops
- Chemicals associated with stress, such as cortisol and adrenalin, are reduced
To register for a yoga class, or to find out more information, contact the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Department of Psychiatry at 215-214-3940.