Yoga During Cancer...



August 20, 2015 | by Rachel Divine

Breast cancer survivor and yoga therapist Rachel Divine shares helpful tips for cancer patients and caregivers on using yoga to relieve stress and anxiety.

Rachel Divine is a yoga therapist and patient leader for the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. She's also a former City of Hope patient.

When someone you know has cancer, even the word “cancer” can make you feel nervous, sleepless, depressed or more. But, as a yoga teacher for 15 years and a breast cancer survivor of two years, I've found that exercise, even for five minutes a day, can offer a world of relief.

Doctors and scientists are now using yoga and meditation to help cancer patients and caregivers alike. Some responses from patients and caregivers on on how yoga has helped them include:

  • “Yoga helps my anxiety.”

  • “I have better balance.”

  • “Relaxes my body and restores my spirit.”

  • “Calms me and I am able to fall asleep better.”

Whether you're a patient or caregiver, here are six things you can do in five minutes to help you feel better. Practice these sitting or lying down.

  • Feeling tense? Close your eyes and imagine a calm relaxing place, maybe a beach. Imagine the sound of the waves and the feel of the wind on your arms. Inhale and exhale slowly for the count of four. Do this six to nine times.

  • Feeling anxious? Squeeze different muscles throughout your whole body starting at your feet all the way to the top of your head, release and repeat.

  • Feeling depressed? Just find the sun. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression. Open your arms and let the sun warm your heart.

  • Feeling stiff? Stretch. Stand up and inhale as you reach your right hand to the sky and your left hand to the floor. Switch sides. Slowly roll your shoulders forward in circles, then repeat backward.

  • Dance. Research suggests people feel less anxious after a few months of modern dance, but if that’s not your style, five minutes of salsa or merengue can help, too!

  • Laugh. Stressed? Me? Ha! Laughter is one of the sillier ways to beat stress. Read a joke book or watch funny animal videos. Just take five minutes anytime you need it.


When you come to City of Hope, you automatically gain access to an unparalleled array of support services to help you and your family take each step during and after your cancer treatment. Learn more about these resources at our Living with Cancer website.

Learn more about making your first appointment or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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