Of all the alternative healing systems, t'ai chi and yoga (especially Ashtanga Yoga) are among the most distinguished practices that can benefit cancer patients.
#1. Easier to perform: Recently, a number of studies have found that t'ai chi can be very helpful for those who are suffering from cancer. The side effects of chemotherapy and radiation can take a severe toll on the patient's emotional and physical health as the patient not only has to use all his reserves to battle the disease but also remake normal cells killed by the treatment. A patient undergoing treatment tends to get tired even after slight exertion. Patients also begin to shed their muscle mass and become less vibrant, when they actually need to restore their energy to rebuild their body's lost strength. Also, the inability to perform daily tasks that they did with ease earlier tends to weaken their morale further. In due course of time, this stress begins to build up and its harmful effects surface as increased blood pressure, decreasing blood flow to the tissues resulting in a compromised immune system. To counter this adverse impact, doctors often prescribe exercises - last thing a patient would feel like taking up. However, low impact t'ai chi is easier to pick up as it consists of slow and gentle dance-like movements.
#2. Lowers stress: T'ai chi has surprising benefits for cancer patients such as improved cardiac activity, lowering of blood pressure and stress levels. Besides this, modified movements; deep diaphragmic breathing and meditation practices associated with t'ai chi heighten the level of awareness of a patient.
#3. Improves breathing capacity: Another kingpin benefit of the practice of t'ai chi is the increase in the breathing capacity of cancer patients. Because of the weakened muscles, a cancer patient's ribcage doesn't expand and contract the way it would in a healthy, normal state. T'ai chi aids in drawing more oxygen as it trains the breath to be in a rhythmic pattern, in-sync with every movement.
#4. Strengthens core muscles: A key to the health benefits of t'ai chi is its focus on silk-reeling, which involve three aspects: stretching, twisting and relaxing. Every move in t'ai chi is either a part of the positive circle or negative circle. One can reap the many benefits of these circles by practicing a position called, "horse-stance", In addition to strengthening core muscles, these circles also invoke fatigue-fighting elements within our bodies. A typical modified t'ai chi session comprises of joint-loosening movements, circles and the form. After devoting approximately 20 minutes, a practitioner begins to feel internally more calm and peaceful. This activity enhances the ability to see things more clearly. Furthermore, a research endorses t'ai chi's positive impact on one's self esteem.