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Kundalini Yoga ‘Awakens’ Cancer Patients

CancerWise - September 2008

Kundalini yoga is a practice that uses a series of postures, movement, sound, breathing and meditation to free energy starting from the lower body and moving upward. The goal is to reach a state of clarity and peace.

This process, called “awakening the awareness” (or activating the potential within every person), comes about by stimulating the endocrine system, which includes the pituitary gland, the hormone-manufacturing gland at the base of the brain.

One way to stimulate the pituitary gland is to keep your eyes opened one-tenth and focus your gaze on different areas, including the tip of your nose, says Sat Siri Sumler, a yoga teacher-trainer for the International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association (IKYTA) and a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with the national registry of the Yoga Alliance.

Kundalini yoga postures and movement strengthen and increase the flexibility of the spine, which is intended to help improve memory and health.

“In the West, we gauge our age by our memory. In the East, it’s the flexibility of the spine,” says Sumler, who has studied yoga for 35 years. “We have certain exercises that are used for moving the spinal fluid through the spine, which in turn improves our memory.”

Sumler teaches Kundalini yoga at M. D. Anderson’s Place … of wellness, part of the cancer center’s Integrative Medicine Program. The practices offered at the Place … of wellness are available to M. D. Anderson patients, cancer patients receiving therapy at other institutions, their family members and caregivers.

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center