What is it?

Yoga involves performing poses 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 yoga/Iyengar. 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.

If you’re new to yoga, it is recommended you start with a beginner class. Always let your yoga teacher know of any health problems you have or treatments you’re receiving so they can adjust postures and exercises to suit your needs. You can also seek advice from your medical team.

What is the evidence?

Clinical research has shown that yoga may improve sleep, decrease stress and enhance quality of life. The focus on breathing may also help reduce pain.

Books, DVDs and smartphone apps are useful if you do not have access to a yoga class or you want to do yoga at home.

This information was last reviewed in May 2015
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