Today is World Cancer Day. On average, one of every three people in the U.S. will develop cancer in their lifetime. While this sounds scary, treatments are advancing every day and the rate of survival is consistently improving. If you are being treated for cancer, your mind and body are under tremendous stress. Depending on what area is being treated and which treatment you’re undergoing, you might not be feeling yourself right about now. I‘ve compiled a short list of movements to do during cancer treatment, after checking with your doctor first of course! You can pick and choose the movements that feel good to you, and hold them for as long or as little as you’d like.
1. Reclined Hip Opener
This movement releases tight hips, which is said to help, in turn, release emotional stress. You’re a warrior fighting cancer, but that doesn’t mean this process won’t affect your emotional state. To relinquish some of those negative emotions, come to lay down on your back, with your knees bent and the soles of the feet planted down to the ground in front of you. Slowly start to let your knees fall to either side with the soles of your feet now touching one another. If your hips are feeling especially tight, you can take exercise blocks or pillows underneath your knees for some support in the hips.
2. Legs Up the Wall
Elevating your legs above your head, like in this movement, helps to improve circulation, calm the mind, and, perhaps, even relieve any nausea you might be experiencing during treatment. The easiest way to get into this movement is by sitting on the ground with knees bent and one hip flush with a wall. From there, start to lay your back onto the ground while simultaneously thrusting your legs up the wall so the soles of your feet are facing the ceiling. You might need to move your hips closer to the wall, or even rest a pillow or folded blanket under your hips in order to make this more comfortable.
3. Cow + Cat
These two movements combined explore flexion and extension of the spinal cord. They keep your spine flexible and are helpful in coordinating your breath. We’ll start on all fours, with wrists underneath the shoulders and knees stacked underneath the hips. Inhale while lifting your gaze and tailbone up to the ceiling for cow. Be sure to keep your core engaged by hugging your lower belly into your spine; we want to protect the muscles of the back and prevent them from becoming strained. On your exhalation, come back through neutral spine and then, pushing the mat away, bring your forehead and pelvis underneath you as if you’re trying to make the two touch. Push the space between your shoulder-blades high to the ceiling in your cat. Come back to neutral. Move through a couple of these at your own breath’s pace.
4. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is an amazingly introspective movement, meaning you can take an opportunity to close off and go inward, checking in with yourself without being distracted by outside stimuli. It also elongates the spine while it’s in a neutral position. To get into child’s pose, start on all fours. Touch your big toes together and separate your knees slightly. Pressing your hips back to your heels, walk your hands to the top of the mat or space to allow your chest to rest in between your legs. If this feels too tight, you can rest a pillow or folded blanket under either the hips, the chest and forehead, or both.
5. Reclined Pigeon
This is another good hip opener, and reclined pigeon can help alleviate back soreness and sciatica as well! Let’s get into reclined pigeon lying down on your back, with the knees bent and the soles of the feet planted down to the mat in front of you. Bring your right knee into your chest, and rotate the knee to the right so your ankle is able to cross just by your left knee, creating a figure four shape with your legs. Thread your right hand through the “four” you just created and hold on to the left shin or thigh with both hands pulling it closer to the body as you continue to push the right knee away from the body to open your hip. Hold this for as long as you’d like, and when you’re ready you can switch sides.
I hope you find these gentle movements to be relaxing during cancer treatment and that they bring some ease into both your mind and your body. If you have any questions, as always, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!