By Sharon McGuire
500 RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher with 500+ hours of yoga training)
The following restorative yoga poses and breath practices are an excellent way to begin exploring how yoga can support your journey with cancer. As with any yoga practice, hear my words, but listen to your body. If any of these instructions bring a source of pain, modify the instructions, or do not do the pose.
Lying down meditation supports the immune system and allows the body to release good hormones: Lying on the floor on your back you may want to support your knees with a pillow or rolled up blanket or towel. if laying on the floor is not comfortable, finding a comfortable seated position in a chair will work as well. Use blankets or pillows to support any part of the body that may need it. The goal is to be completely relaxed.Rest your hands gently on your abdomen or chest whatever feels the most comfortable. Closing your eyes or having a soft gaze so you are not focused on any one thing, begin to bring your attention to the breath. Notice how the chest and abdomen rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. Continue to notice any sensations that may arise in the body as you continue to focus on the breath.Without effort, slowly begin to lengthen your exhalation so it takes the breath longer to leave the body than it did to come in. Continue for a few breaths and then allow the breath to return to normal.
Seated spinal twist supports the digestive system: Sitting on the floor with the legs crossed or stretched out in front of you. Breathe deeply and feel your sit bones connected to the floor. Inhale, and as you exhale slowly twist the torso to the right, placing your left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind the back looking over the right shoulder. Hold the pose for three deep breaths, return to the center position and repeat on the left. Do 3-5 rounds on each side.
Reclined bound-angle pose helps to reduce stress and fatigue: Sitting on the floor, draw the bottoms of the feet together to create a diamond shape. The feet can be closer or further from the body depending on your comfort level. If the knees are resting up in the air, you can support them by using yoga blocks (if you have them) or by simply placing pillows or rolled up blankets or towels under the knees. Slowly begin to lie back using the support of your arms until your body reaches the floor. Rest your arms a comfortable distance from the body. Once in the pose, begin to breathe deeply, following the breath practice for the lying down meditation. Stay in the posture for at least five deep breaths or as long as your body feels comfortable.
Legs up the wall combats fatigue: Sitting with your left side next the wall. Turning to the left, slowly bring your legs up the wall as you lower your body to the floor. Scoot your buttocks next to the wall and allow the head and shoulders to rest on the floor. If you feel your legs are going to open too wide, you can place a strap, belt, or tied scarf above the knees so you can let the legs relax. You can also modify this posture by placing the legs on a chair with the knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Breathe deeply as in the first pose.
Sharon McGuire with the Brahman Priest at the
Krupalu Maharaj Ashram in Malav, Gurjurat, India in 2020.
Sharon McGuire, a Certified Advanced Yoga Nidra Facilitator,
teaches at YogaHeart Home,
208 Ridgewater Drive, Polson.
Contact info: (812) 345-0639, firstname.lastname@example.org.