Sometimes, the subjects we teach in a Yoga class make us feel much better about what we do. When one decides to become a Yoga instructor, he or she usually does not appreciate the complete package of benefits one gains from meditating. With age comes appreciation, and sometimes wisdom grows from within. So, if you are a Yoga instructor, please remember that everything you present in classes is a valuable life skill. The new Yoga practitioners do usually not appreciate meditation and pranayama, but they are of extreme value.
The mere thought of cancer causes most of us to tense up, and undergoing tests is even more traumatic. If you have never been through it, imagine how scary a diagnosis must be, and that is only the beginning. Surgery, treatments, and uncertainty often lead to anxiety, depression, and negative emotions, which also affect the outcomes of all chronic diseases.
How Does Meditation Help Cancer Patients?
Clinical studies show that meditation is an effective complementary therapy in the fight against cancer. Not only does it reduce discomfort and improve mood, but also evidence suggests that it boosts immunity and possibly improves prognosis. This is likely due to its effect on the autonomic nervous system.
Responsible for involuntary actions such as breathing, sweating, heartbeat, and digestion, the autonomic nervous system serves two functions. One part, the sympathetic nervous system, prepares the body for emergencies by increasing heart rate and restricting blood flow. The other part, known as the parasympathetic nervous system, slows heart rate, increases blood flow, and releases beneficial digestive enzymes.
As a result, meditation reduces toxic cortisol levels and boosts the release of feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream. It also increases the level of activity in the regions of the brain associated with positive emotions and compassion.
How Do Students Learn to Meditate?
There are many different kinds of meditation. For anyone who is dealing with cancer, there are many options. Many people like learning from meditation or Yoga teachers in private or public sessions. Those who want to practice with others who are dealing with cancer may prefer specialized classes offered at many medical centers. For those who want to meditate at home or alone, the following techniques are good choices:
• Guided meditations are available as both digital downloads and CDs, and some are designed especially for cancer patients.
• Breath awareness meditation brings the focus inward, returning attention to each individual breath when the mind wanders.
• Moving meditations, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong, offer active options for restless practitioners. They also prepare the mind and body for other kinds of meditation.
• Mantra meditation concentrates on particular vibrations or phrases, such as the "AUM" sound or a mindfulness affirmation, such as: "May I be at peace."
The demand for Yoga and meditation in oncology departments is growing. As research confirms the benefits of meditation for the management and recovery of cancer, its practice will likely become a part of standard medical care. Who knows where the future will lead us? Meditation is part of every Yoga teacher training course. Perhaps meditation has been under appreciated recently, but its future as an adjunct therapy looks very bright.
© Copyright 2012 - Aura Wellness Center - Publications Division. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, has written many books on the subject of Yoga. He is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. He has been a certified Master Yoga Teacher since 1995. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/