Yoga and Cancer AIDS and Other Life Challenging Concerns

Yoga is by no means a miracle cure—and you should be wary of any healthcare or fitness practitioner who promises a cure to any condition or ailment. However, yoga can offer much comfort to, as well as aid the healing process of, people facing life-challenging illnesses.

One of the most difficult issues facing men with life-threatening illnesses is the fear and lack of control they can feel in their day-to-day lives. Through its ability to calm and still the mind, yoga can help men achieve a place of inner peace, wherein they can see their situation more clearly, without being controlled so deeply by fear. From this place of peace and clarity, a man can be much more able to accept his life condition. A man can see his life more objectively and take positive actions to initiate changes that will help him feel better—both physically and psychologically. Rather than feeling out of control, a man can feel in control. This shift in consciousness is a shift toward healing.

Many health experts believe that positive mental attitudes, such as feeling in control, can help promote healing. Yoga can have other positive health benefits for men, too. Yoga practices can induce the relaxation response and thus help support the functioning of the immune system. This process can help the body to fight and control infection and disease more efficiently. Yoga can also have more subtle effects on a man's health. Once a man embarks on a practice of yoga, he often finds that his life begins to change—subtly and gradually. As he begins to feel good about his body, he wants to take better care of it and spontaneously begins to make lifestyle choices that are healthier and support his well-being, such as stopping health-damaging, addictive behaviors; eating in a more nutritious way; and pursuing healthy exercise.

Adopting just a few simple yogic self-care practices can have a domino effect on initiating other positive changes into a man's life. These lifestyle shifts are factors that can contribute to recovery from illness and disease. Even when yogic practices cannot "cure" an illness, they can help a man to feel better in general, thus reducing the pain and anxiety that accompany many illnesses. And, most important, yoga can help a man to feel whole and at peace with himself—a gift to any man, whether challenged by severe illness or common everyday tribulations.

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