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Conversations from the Mat

Easy Yoga Poses for Someone with Mesothelioma by Faith Franz

Yogawoman - Friday, March 15, 2013

Mesothelioma patients may feel wary of taking their first yoga class, worrying that they will be asked to put their feet behind their head or support their bodyweight on their arms. 

While these advanced poses may be accessible to long-time yoga practitioners, they are not reflective of the average poses held in a beginner’s yoga class.

Introductory yoga classes – which are typically most appropriate for mesothelioma patients – focus less on pushing the body to its physical limits and more on simply moving, breathing and healing. These classes incorporate a few dozen postures that gently stretch the body without over-taxing the muscles.

Some of the most popular yoga poses in a gentle yoga class include:

  • Child’s pose
  • Seated twist
  • Downward Dog
  • Cobra
  • Standing Forward Bend

Students will learn the poses fairly quickly in their first few yoga classes. It’s easy to follow along with the postures in a group of people. The yoga instructor is always available to help beginners figure out the proper alignment for the pose.

Poses are designed to feel good. If any pose feels like it is putting an unnecessary strain on your body, students are encouraged to leave the pose and settle into child’s pose to rest. 

Benefits of Yoga Poses

Each yoga pose – referred to as “asana” in traditional Sanskrit – is designed to stimulate, stretch or loosen up a different part of the body. Practiced regularly, the poses can actually help alleviate mesothelioma symptoms.

Chest pain and difficulty breathing can both be alleviated by chest-opening poses, which include upward dog, bridge pose and supine spinal twist. Nausea – which mesothelioma patients often experience during chemotherapy – can be reduced by holding reclined hero pose. Mountain pose can also heal digestive issues that often accompany chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Mental benefits can also stem from a regular yoga practice. Anxiety and depression can be effectively treated by certain yoga poses, such as seated forward bend and savasana. Many people find that stress melts away when holding salutation seal, a seated pose with the hands held together in front of the heart, which is often accompanied by a short period of quiet meditation.

Author bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.

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