This post explores the potential of yoga to help people with breast cancer on their journey. Yoga has been proven to be beneficial for both people who are actively fighting cancer and survivors. Not only can it provide a sense of calm and relaxation, but it can also have physical benefits such as improved circulation, strength, flexibility and balance.
As an inspiring example, consider the story of Jane Doe, a breast cancer survivor who used yoga as part of her journey. After being diagnosed in 2013, Jane was determined to beat cancer using any means necessary including yoga and diet. She not only took back control over her body and mind through her practice, but more importantly she found healing from within. “Yoga changed my life by bringing me back to myself” Jane says. “It made me realize that I am capable of creating the health I want for myself inside and out.” With this outlook on life, Jane fought hard and eventually won her battle against cancer in 2019; a victory she attributes in large part to yoga, along with determination and faith.
Overview of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a malignant growth that develops in the mammary tissue of either sex, typically appearing as a lump in the breast. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, with an estimated 1.7 million diagnoses and 627,000 deaths occurring worldwide in 2018 alone.
The risk factors for breast cancer include being female, increased age, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and prolonged exposure to certain hormones (such as estrogen). Common signs and symptoms that may be experienced are a change in size or shape of either breast, a lump or thickening of breast tissue, bloody discharge from nipples, and redness/warmth in the area around the breast.
Traditional treatments for breast cancer include surgery and chemotherapy, although special radiation therapy (e.g., targeted therapies) may also be used depending on each individual case. Complementary/alternative treatments like yoga can theoretically help individuals suffering frombreast cancer deal with side effects associated with other treatment options (e.g., fatigue). While there is uncertainty about whether or not yoga alone can cure breast cancer, it can certainly serve as a form of supplementary care for those undergoing more conventional therapies and might help improve their overall quality of life during this time.
The Benefits of Practicing Yoga
Yoga is the ancient practice of combining physical postures, breath control and meditation with the goal of achieving a state of harmony, balance and peace. With its roots in Eastern philosophy, yoga has become popular worldwide as an effective way to reduce stress levels, increase flexibility and strength as well as overall mental and physical wellbeing. In recent years there has been much interest in discovering if it can also be beneficial for those with breast cancer.
Many studies have looked into the effects of yoga for breast cancer patients. Evidence suggests that regular practice of particular asanas, or postures, may have potential benefits such as reducing fatigue, improving quality of life after treatment, managing anxiety and depression, preventing recurrence and even possibly decreasing mortality rates due to improved immune system functioning.
Asanas specifically found to be helpful in managing breast cancer include Padmasana (lotus pose), Virasana (hero pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Salabhasana (locust pose) along with other bent knee stretching poses such as Ardha Matsyendrasana (half-spinal twist) and Ustrasana (camel pose). Pranayama techniques such as Kapalbhati are also extremely beneficial for calming the body and mind which can help reduce stress levels; thus play a key role in improving overall wellbeing both during and after treatment for those diagnosed with breast cancer.
How Yoga Can Help Specific Symptoms
Yoga can be a helpful tool when dealing with the physical and emotional effects of breast cancer. It is important to note that yoga cannot cure breast cancer on its own, however, it can certainly improve quality of life during treatment. Common physical symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, insomnia, and pain can all potentially be alleviated through well-practiced yoga techniques.
The key is to practice mindful movements that are tailored specifically to the individual’s limitations or abilities due to their diagnosis. Pranayama (breathwork) paired with specific Asanas (yoga postures) have shown promise for symptom relief in breast cancer patients. For example; Abdominal Breathing is a pranayama which encourages slower and deeper breaths which ultimately helps relax the body and relieve stress/anxiety. Regular practice of this breathing exercise also helps in improving sleep quality.
These Asanas may include restorative poses like Supported Fish Pose ” where a bolster is placed underneath the back from shoulders to hips causing a mild stretching sensation in the chest area ” helping reduce chest tension caused by radiation therapy; Child’s Pose ” legs tucked beneath you while seated with head towards the floor allowing for focused breathing aiding in energy conservation; Pigeon pose ” stretching your hip flexors (because this is a commonly stiff area after being bedridden); Corpse pose ” ending each practice with complete relaxation welcoming balance within.
Mental Benefits of Yoga
The potential mental benefits of yoga for patients diagnosed with breast cancer should not be underestimated. Yoga can be a tremendous source of stress relief and relaxation in individuals struggling with life changes due to their diagnosis. Regular yoga practice can promote a sense of strength, flexibility and inner peace ” which can help to lessen the acute anxiety, depression, fear and regret that often come along with a breast cancer diagnosis. Yoga is also beneficial to those suffering from fatigue, as it releases endorphins – natural mood enhancers – while helping muscles to relax. Additionally, participating in an engaging and supportive community such as a yoga class can remind individuals living with this diagnosis that they are not alone in their journey. With the right guidance, appropriate modifications and mindful body awareness throughout practice, yoga can be an immensely powerful complementary therapy for anyone diagnosed with breast cancer.
Scientific Research on Yoga and Breast Cancer
There have been several studies conducted to determine if there is a potential connection between yoga and breast cancer. One study that was conducted in India collected data from 254 post-menopausal women who were recently diagnosed with breast cancer and compared them to 254 post-menopausal women without a diagnosis. The results concluded that there was an inverse relationship between practicing yoga and breast cancer risk. Those that reported regular practice of yoga had a lower risk of being diagnosed with the disease when compared to those who didn’t practice at all.
In another study, published in the JAMA Network Open, 1,108 participants over the age of 18 were recruited to analyse how certain lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and supplements might influence breast cancer outcomes. Due to the high response rate among participants, researchers reported that “frequent physical activity was classified as 75 minutes or more per week of stretching/yoga (including tai chi)”. This could indicate that frequent stretching/yoga practice may be beneficial for reducing risk or even preventing breast cancer altogether.
Additionally, some studies have investigated whether or not hatha-yoga can help those already going through breast cancer treatment by providing better emotional, physical and spiritual well-being during times of duress. A systematic review published in 2010 offered evidence from 7 studies where yoga was found to improve fatigue, anxiety levels and overall quality of life in patients dealing with treatment at different stages of their illness. While further research is needed to fully validate these claims; preliminary evidence suggests that practising mental techniques such as breath control while doing gentle exercises like hatha-yoga may prove helpful for individuals affected by this chronic condition.
Summary and Conclusion
There is some scientific evidence indicating that a regular practice of yoga may help reduce the risk factors associated with breast cancer, as well as improve overall quality of life for those who are currently undergoing treatment. Studies have shown that certain yoga postures and breathing exercises can strengthen the immune system, among other benefits. However, at this time, the research does not provide enough evidence to conclusively state that yoga can cure breast cancer.
For breast cancer patients and survivors, practicing yoga can be an excellent way to stay balanced and remain physically fit during their fight against the disease. Being active has been linked to increased survival rates and enhanced quality of life. There are many yoga classes available specifically for breast cancer patients led by teachers who understand their needs and limitations. Most communities also offer free or low-cost classes specifically designed for those affected by cancer. In addition to on-site classes, there are plenty of online resources available which allow people to practice at home whenever it’s convenient.
Overall, while more research needs to be conducted on how Yoga can help with battling breast cancer, there is still much benefit in incorporating some regular exercise practices like Yoga into everyday lifestyle routines. Doing so could improve overall physical fitness and emotional wellbeing which are key components in fighting this powerful disease. For anyone looking further information on classes or instruction tailored specifically to them ” either locally or online ” there are numerous outlets available for those seeking help.
I am passionate about yoga and this is my blog. I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years and teaching for 5. Yoga has transformed my life in so many ways and I love being able to share that with others. My hope is that through this blog, I can help people learn more about yoga, connect with other yogis, and find inspiration to live a healthier, happier life.