I soon found yoga becoming an indispensable part of my life, realising that as I became stronger, fitter and more flexible in my body, I also found my mind was clearer and I could manage my emotions with greater ease. The idea for my book grew out of this experience and led to my discovering more about the vast array of conditions that yoga can address – from the fatigue, depression and insomnia that had drawn me to it, to studies on bone health, immunity, diabetes, post-traumatic stress, and so much more.
For millennia yogis across the globe have known of yoga’s powerful health-giving properties, but to now have so many scientific studies backing up their anecdotal experiences is very reassuring.
So what benefits have been proven?
Two classes a week reduces the risk of cancer
This sounds like an extraordinary claim, but knowing yoga as I do, I am not at all surprised that scientists have recently found that yoga can help prevent cancer.
The study, by researchers at the University of Rochester, showed that two yoga classes a week for one month reduces inflammation in recovering cancer patients. The study was based on 500 cancer survivors. Two groups spent 75 minutes twice a week either practising yoga or taking part in health education sessions.
Blood samples showed that after one month the yoga group had significantly lower levels of inflammation markers. Given that inflammation is now understood to underlie not only cancer but problems as diverse as arthritis, depression and cardiovascular disease, finding a simple, practical solution for lowering levels is a breakthrough.
The authors of the study advised that doctors should prescribe yoga to cancer survivors: “Clinicians should consider prescribing yoga for survivors experiencing inflammation, which may lead to a high chronic toxicity burden and increased risk of progression, recurrence, and second cancers.”