Yoga

Yoga can be both physically and emotionally supportive after a cancer diagnosis. On this page you will find four sessions designed to help you try yoga at home.

We know that there is benefit to patients and their family or friends practicing yoga together. We are here to support you to be more confident to be physically active.

Yoga therapy is a gentle activity that equips the individual with tools to aid relaxation, maintain fitness, suppleness and muscle tone, to energise both mind and body. In each session the yoga therapist will guide you through a series of gentle movements, breathing practices and relaxation techniques. In these four sessions the practice includes lying on a mat on the floor, so it is important that you can safely get on and off the floor.

You should seek guidance from your medical team if you are unsure whether yoga is a suitable type of exercise for you, if a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom increases during the practice.

Yoga at home

These four on-demand yoga sessions are designed for a beginner’s level of practice and for those re-starting yoga practice following a diagnosis and treatment for cancer. The aim of the sessions is to gradually improve your confidence, concentration, breathing, flexibility and fitness. The yoga teacher suggests the use of props to adapt to different postures. Do use cushions, blankets or rolled up towels to support your body in the postures and allow release of tight areas of your body. Use the softer props if the more traditional blocks, wedges, or books are uncomfortable.

Staying safe when exercising

It is very important that you feel well enough to take part in a session. Although every effort has been taken to give clear guidance and select postures and exercises which are safe and effective, there may be situations where the session may be inappropriate or need adapting to your specific needs. Examples of these would be if you have any disease in your bones, areas of existing pain, high or low blood pressure or low blood counts. If you have any concerns or any pre-existing medical conditions, please contact your Royal Marsden team, GP or physiotherapist before starting.

If you develop any symptoms of pain, excessive shortness of breath, chest pain/discomfort or dizziness and light-headedness, sit down and wait for the symptoms to pass. If these are new symptoms, stop doing the programme and seek medical advice.

Guided yoga session

This is gentle 50-minute, sound-only, session in lying and kneeling by Royal Marsden yoga teacher, Juliet Barker. It has a focus on mindful movement with an emphasis on the breath and a relaxation session at the end. It can be done either on the floor or a wide firm bed.

These following three sessions have been designed by The British Wheel of Yoga registered teacher, Laurence Kaye, practicing with his wife, Royal Marsden patient, Laurie, in conjunction with the exercise therapists at The Royal Marsden.

Gentle flow

This is a 40-minute yoga session including a five-minute explanation and safety section at the beginning and finishing with a relaxation session. It is designed for people who can move confidently between lying, kneeling and standing.

Energise

This is a 40-minute yoga session including a five-minute explanation and safety section at the beginning. It is aimed at waking up the body and mind and helping you to focus for the day ahead. The yoga is in sitting, kneeling and standing postures. This is aimed at developing cardiovascular, strength and balance ability. The energise session finishes with a 5-minute relaxation session. It is designed for people who can move confidently between lying, sitting, kneeling, and standing.

Relaxation

This is a 35-minute yoga session with a five-minute explanation and safety section at the beginning and finishing with a relaxation session. It has a focus on the breath with gentle movement to release tension in sitting, kneeling and lying. It is designed for people who can move confidently between lying and kneeling.

The Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Foundation Trust does not take any responsibility for injuries or illness that may arise from participation in this programme.

By completing some of these videos regularly throughout the week, you will be starting to meet the recommended levels of physical activity, strengthening and balance training that is advised for all adults in the UK to help with feeling stronger, fitter, and healthier.

Contact us

If you are a Royal Marsden patient and have questions about exercise, please call the Physiotherapy Department:

  • Chelsea: 020 7808 2821
  • Sutton: 020 8661 3098

Other resources

Maggie's at The Royal Marsden deliver free virtual classes for a range of different activities for people affected by cancer. You can contact them on 020 3982 3141

If you would like to find suitable classes that are close to you, we suggest that you look for practitioners trained as ‘Yoga Therapists’ that are listed through the British Wheel of Yoga Website.