Can Yoga Help Those Undergoing Chemotherapy
Q: Is there any guidance that you can give for people who are going through the pain of chemotherapy, to reduce the stress on the body and help them to come out of it more easily?
Sadhguru: What you call as chemotherapy is a complex cocktail of medicines and poisons together. The basic form of chemotherapy is a bunch of chemicals, which is an extract from mustard gas – a very destructive chemical. But now, the choice that we are making is between death and damage. We choose to damage the body a little bit because otherwise it could be death. It is a very aggressive way of treating the system, but in the last decade, chemo is administered with much more expertise than it was earlier. Initially, if someone went through chemotherapy, all their hair would fall out and so many things would happen. This is not so anymore because they have counter drugs for that. Plus, today they are fixing canisters in the body, which allow a gentle release of chemo. It is not really chemical warfare anymore. It has become very mild – like industry, it poisons you slowly!
But the chemicals that you put into the system are incapable of identifying what is cancerous and what is a healthy cell. They can just calibrate this cocktail of medicines in such a way that they only affect those cells which are in a certain phase of cell growth. It is not capable of identifying beyond that, so it goes for everything which is in that stage of development.
A Calculated Risk
That is a calculated risk we are taking and above all, no chemo really destroys all cancer. It is just that if it gives you a certain level of relief, the system may handle it beyond that point. The problem is, with chemo, all the cells across the board – whether healthy or otherwise – cannot multiply, so the rejuvenation system in the body is seriously affected. That is a medical decision a doctor has to make and there is no single standard. I think how individual doctors administer it is very different from person to person. With some people, it causes very little reaction. With other people who may do it a little more aggressively, it causes much more reaction.
There is no perfect formula there. It is the doctor’s judgment, based on the reports that he has and his skill. People want to go to a particular oncologist mainly because of a certain level of expertise, which someone might have gained over a period of time. This is not a perfect science, but you want your house to be free of insects, so you fumigate the whole place. You also get a little poisoned in the process but it is okay because you cannot live with them there. This is what has happened to the body. There are some things you want to get rid of but there is no way to shoot just those things. You will have to shoot all of them at once.
Rejuvenating From Chemo
Now, how do you recover from this? The main problem here is that cell multiplication is affected, the DNA is affected, and the protein necessary for the multiplication of the cells is taken off. This affects the rejuvenation process, which can lead to a variety of problems if it goes beyond a certain point. We know there are substantial problems but I do not think anyone has really looked at how many problems. After the chemo period is over, the main thing is the cell multiplication should be brought back to normal. That is, the rejuvenation process of new cells replacing the old cells must be brought back to normal as quickly as possible, for which there are various practices we can introduce. Bhuta shuddhi or anything that you do with the elements can do tremendous things. I know a few people who never went for any medical treatment after they were diagnosed with cancer. The only thing they did was spend four to six hours a day in fresh water, doing certain things. By immersing themselves up to the neck in the ocean, a river, a pool or something like this, they came out of their cancer without any medical treatment.
Medicine is only looking at how to kill the cancer cells, while the yogic systems look at how to improve the healthy cells, so that they can take care of cancer by themselves before it even develops. It is a possibility that you can come out of it just by being in touch with water, but not everyone has the necessary strength to do such things. Above all, it is not worth taking the risk. When you have been diagnosed with cancer, the best thing is to go through the treatment and then do other things so that recurrence does not happen. There are many practices in the yogic system, but with cancer, the risk levels are so high and the time allowed is so little, we do not usually take a chance with that.
For recovery from the effects of chemo, the elemental processes that we do can be of immense value and people can regain their rejuvenation process very effectively. General exercise will also have a positive impact, but if you do the right kind of yogic practices along with bhuta shuddhi and a proper diet, the body’s ability to bounce back to its normal rejuvenation scale should happen quickly. If it does not happen quickly, your cancer may be gone but you may not have the joy of being healthy, simply because the body will pull you down in many ways when the rejuvenation process is not good.
Editor’s Note: For more of Sadhguru’s insights on cancer and healthy living, download the ebook, Cancer – A Yogic Perspective.