What it is

Yoga involves holding postures (asanas) with the body, slowing and deepening the breath, and focusing the mind. Yoga originated in India and is now popular around the world.

There are many styles of yoga with varying intensity – from gentle, such as hatha yoga, to vigorous, such as ashtanga and Iyengar yoga. Some styles may not be suitable during some stages of cancer.

Why use it

Yoga helps both physical and emotional health.

What to expect

Wear comfortable clothes. You may be asked to remove your shoes before entering the yoga room. You usually need a yoga mat – this may be available in class.

Most classes last for 1–2 hours. A typical routine involves focusing on quietening the mind and working with the breath. A session usually begins with warm-up stretches followed by a series of yoga postures, and ends with relaxation.

Some cancer centres offer yoga classes that are geared to people during cancer treatment or recovery.


Clinical research has shown that yoga may positive effects on decreasing stress and enhancing quality of life. The focus on breathing may also help reduce pain.

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This information was last reviewed in May 2018
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