Let it Rise Yoga Pose For Breast Cancer & Lymphedema

Let It Rise Yoga Pose For Breast Cancer & LymphedemaBy Diana Ross, E-RYT 500, Co-Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga.

Slow and easy is the theme for the “Let It Rise” pose. When you begin to introduce overhead or even arms up after cancer treatments the arms, shoulders and chest begin to stretch and open. It is common to have frozen shoulder or limited range of motion ROM so a pose like “Let It Rise” is perfect to start with. Using the breath to lift and lower arms, also being mindful not to overarch the lower spine is important for the success of the yoga pose.

Benefits

  • Improves blood and lymph flow through contraction and relaxation of arms
  • Increases function of immune system by improving drainage of lymph nodes
  • Increases shoulder ROM (range of motion)
  • Reduces fibrous adhesions and scar tissue
  • Stretches rhomboids
  • Promotes synchronized breathing
  • Gently stretches arms, shoulders and pectoral region
  • Elevates chest,encouraging deeper respiration and rhythmic breathing
  • Opens the intercostal muscles and separates the ribs
  • Opens hips in crossed leg position

Instructions

  1. Begin in any comfortable, crossed-leg, seated pose. Please use appropriate props to ensure comfort of knees. Sit higher, on a yoga block, bolster or blanket, if you need to. Holding a block with arms straight, lower hands to ground by feet.
  2. INHALE, bring straight arms to a comfortable height (directly in front of chest) or overhead, building range of motion (ROM) in the breast region and/or shoulder region. Make sure your shoulders stay relaxed and your spine remains lifted. The use of the block may cause an over arch of the lower spine so be aware of maintaining a long spine.
  3. EXHALE, lower arms and yoga block to center of chest, or all the way down.
  4. Continue raising and lowering block. Rest when needed.

To experience the benefits of yoga for breast cancer, it is essential that you begin with simple, gentle yoga movements. You should also consult a doctor before you begin practicing yoga. It is also necessary that you follow a yogic diet that consists of a mainly vegetarian diet to enhance the benefits of yoga.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross: E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

 

Try Breast Cancer Yoga’s extra gentle yoga DVD for breast cancer recovery and lymphedema management.

Forward Fold Yoga Pose For Breast Cancer & Lymphedema Management

Forward Fold Yoga Pose For Breast CancerBy: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500 Co-Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga.

What can I say? Just resting your feet up while you dangle down is bliss. Let yourself go. Oh Yeah! This can be so relaxing and releasing for tight shoulders or coming out of a back bend. We under estimate sitting in a chair and hanging down.

Benefits

  • Broadens side body/obliques/quadratus lumborum
  • Assists in lengthening the spine and opening shoulder rhomboids
  • Rejuvenates and relaxes the lower spinal muscles
  • Relieves neck and lower back pain when the head and torso supported
  • Encourages relaxation through stretching
  • Reduces excessive kyphosis in the upper thoracic back
  • Stretches chest and axillae, and gluteals independently
  • Draws the breath to the back body creating space in the lungs
  • Brings blood to the head, pelvis and broadens sacrum
  • Slows heart rate
  • Facilitates an immediate relaxation response

Instructions

  1. Begin seated on edge of stable chair so
  2. pelvis tilts forward with legs extended,
  3. place large bolster in underneath feet .
  4. INHALE, lift and lengthen spine upwards.
  5. EXHALE, come forward and drape your body over thighs. Let your arms dangle down.
  6. Stay in the pose and enjoy the breath
  7. coming to the back body. When settled
  8. into the pose continue to release the
  9. spine and open shoulders out to side
  10. more.
  11. Rest and enjoy the deep opening into the
  12. back body.

To experience the benefits of yoga for breast cancer, it is essential that you begin with simple, gentle yoga movements. You should also consult a doctor before you begin practicing yoga. It is also necessary that you follow a yogic diet that consists of a mainly vegetarian diet to enhance the benefits of yoga.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross: E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Being Up Side Down and Lymphedema

Moving Bridge Yoga Pose For LymphedemaBy Diana Ross, ERYT 500, Co-founder Breast Cancer Yoga

“Any health concern on lymphedema – no matter how big or small warrants accurate and reliable facts. These facts breed not misinform or mislead the right call-to-action.”
My question is “Do inversions (or inverted postures) in yoga help or hurt the student/patient with the potential or concern for further hampering lymphedema?” http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/adult/breast/lymphedema There are two types of inversions, first a mild inversion where the hips are higher then the heart, and second a full inversion where the hips and legs are higher.

Some exercise programs are performed without proper compression, swelling may worsen as well as tissue trauma and inflammation. I have been torn between “Are inversions good or bad for lymphedema?” I have seen it presented both ways. Well, after research and interviews this is what I found out to be true. Motion and deep breathing is key because of the stimulation of venous and lymphatic return to the affected area. Some of the poses in Breast Cancer Yoga, for example Moving Bridge where arms are called into action in a moving flow with hips lifting up higher than the chest can result in pain reduction, as well as the spine being brought into proper alignment and the rehydration of the intervertebral discs. Now with all this being said even if you are or are not flowing the arms in an inversion there could be noticeable muscle relaxation in an inverted yoga pose. This ultimately encourages the reduction of recovery time. To add to these direct benefits, the use of inverted yoga poses that promote non-repetitive movements also confirm to stimulate venous return in the lymphatic system; as well as stimulating the autonomic nervous system and its baroreceptors (sensitive receptor). Wear your garments when you exercise if your arm feels achy or heavy. Otherwise, it is recommended not to wear your sleeve and gauntlet while exercising.

Here are some simple rules for being upside down or right side up.

  • Yoga is good for both prevention and control of lymphedema.
  • Start slowly but gradually build up to your former activity level.
  • With any new activity, start slowly and increase gradually.
  • It is important to take frequent rests, or rotate activities to avoid overuse or constant repetition.
  • Stay well hydrated and avoid caffeine drinks.

It is important to Stop at once if you experience heaviness, aching, firmness, or swelling. Rest and elevate your arm. You may want to try the activity again the next day, but stop earlier and plan to proceed slowly. Stay active, but be watchful . http://lymphedemahope.com/uncategorized/exercise-in-the-patient-with-lymphedema-nln/Lane
My conclusion is this: yoga is a wonderful way to promote breast health and lymphedema management. Inversions are indeed beneficial for lymphedema and for good health. Repetitive movements should be monitored SLOWLY. The bottom line is to start at the beginning, do not over do, pace yourself and be mindful; Rest, rest, rest. Lymphedema can happen anytime.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross: E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Arms Over Backbend – A Therapeutic Yoga Pose

Lorraine Agular, PT, ERYT 500

Lorraine Aguilar P.T. , E-RYT 500

By: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500, Co-Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga.

Breast Cancer Yoga would like to introduce Lorraine Aguilar, (who is also my yoga teacher.)  Lorraine Aguilar, P.T., ERYT 500 is the director/founder of Yoga Flow Studio in Glen Head, NY.  She is a practicing Physical Therapist since 1991 and specializes in yoga therapeutics and orthopedic manual therapy.

Lorraine has been practicing yoga since 1992 and teaching since 1995. She received her 500-hour yoga certification from Beryl Bender Birch from the Hard & the Soft Institute, and is now part of her teacher training staff. For 14 years she studied Anusara Yoga with founder, John Friend, and was an Anusara Inspired teacher for 13 years. Lorraine continues to practice and study Ashtanga, Iyengar and Alignment based yogas. Yoga Flow Studio is an official yoga center which  offers a 300 hour Therapeutic Teacher Training, as well as workshops in Anatomy for Yoga.

I would like to mention that Lorraine and I will be doing a special “Yoga and Ceremony” Summer Solstice retreat at Menla Mountain Retreat in the Catskills Mountains. http://www.yogaflowstudio.com/events/solstice-retreat-2014.php

It is my pleasure to introduce her; her style and enthusiasm of teaching with this restorative yoga pose, which we will call “Arms Over Backbend”. This is a great pose for those in breast cancer recovery and for managing or preventing lymphedema.

Arm Over Backbend

Benefits

  • Quickly promotes inner calm
  • Elevates chest, and deepens breath
  • Promotes lymphatic drainage of breasts and pectoral muscles
  • Post surgical benefits of reducing fibrous adhesions and scar tissue
  • Balances autonomic nervous system (ANS)
  • Allows the shoulder blades to feel supported comfortably
  • Spreads the clavicle, relieves pressure on brachial plexus (network of nerves)
  • Stretches and expands the pectoral muscles
  • Increases venous blood flow toward heart and lymph flow
  • Gently stretches abdominal muscles, rib cage and thoracic spine
  • Reduces low back pain and spasm
  • Promotes awareness of vertebrae isolation

Instructions

  1. Begin seated on the earth with your back to a large bolster and legs extended. A yoga block can be used to support the head when in the full backbend.
  2. Place a belt, shoulder distance around the forearms. Lengthen the spine and fold over the bolster. Lift and draws arms over head and feel yourself reaching and lengthening the side body, and arms. The belt helps with the arms not separating out to side and creates a bit of resistance.

To experience the benefits of yoga for breast cancer, it is essential that you begin with simple, gentle yoga movements. You should also consult a doctor before you begin practicing yoga. It is also necessary that you follow a yogic diet that consists of a mainly vegetarian diet to enhance the benefits of yoga.

 

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

How Important is Your Yoga Practice in Breast Cancer Recovery?

Yoga With The Sisters NetworkBy Diana Ross, ERYT & Founder, Breast Cancer Yoga

Boy, I find myself saying this over and over again to my students, especially those students that take a break from their practice and come back to class expecting to pick up where they left off. You must practice  your yoga to stay strong and flexible. This applies to being strong and flexible of mind, as well as body. Oh, and let’s not forget – most importantly, of spirit. Yoga is not just the pose but also the breath and meditation. Two of my most favorite things to teach, and two of the hardest things to teach.

So much has changed since the research community alongside the yoga community joined forces to show their groundbreaking protocols for preventing, treating and healing breast cancer. There are many yoga studies underway at medical institutions all over the world to help support Yoga and Good Health.

MD Anderson, Duke, Harvard and the University of California to mention a few are funded by the NIH (National Institute of Health) for their research studies that exclusively focus on the benefits of yoga and recovery.

Decades ago yoga was some sort of “hippie” thing that some people did to be cool or different. It wasn’t really tied into the medical community for it’s healing effects. Actually the idea of integrating yoga with medicine was viewed as being a bit out there.  Well no longer is this true. Today’s picture is so different of yoga. It is one of the fastest growing areas of health and wellness in the cancer communities, or just in general.  Physicians, psychologists, researchers and neuroscientists are revealing evidence of how a yoga practice can positively affect us mentally, physically and spiritually.
Yoga for Breast Cancer
So back to my question ~ How important is your yoga practice?  You need to ask yourself – Do you feel good after a yoga class? Has something lifted or shifted? Are your thoughts clearer? Do you feel rested or less anxious? If you said yes to any one of these questions, then a yoga practice is good for you. If you find it challenging to start on your own in your home, then go to a class that will be suitable for you. A class of contemporaries. Women love to be with other women especially if they share in the recovery process, as you can see from the LI Sisters Network. These women love and support each other.  Don’t hesitate to look around for a restorative or therapeutic yoga class.

If you know that yoga will decrease depression, increase immune function, support flexibility, and give you greater strength than why not commit to a yoga practice. The truth is yoga relieves depression, calms the nervous system, promotes strength and flexibility.  Throw in the benefits of breathing and mindful meditation and you can change your life – heck change your health.  Just ask the experts.

How to start, or support your yoga practice? Keep it simple, and make it easy. First, make the commitment of a certain amount of time each day just for you and your yoga. It can be even before you get out of bed. This is where your best work can begin. Start in reclined Butterfly (soles together, knees to side) and breath consciously. When ready bring your arms over head and support arms with a pillow. This is a real easy place to start. Or find a place for your practice, either at home or in a studio, gym, medical institution, and then show up. Start with one class and build from there. Again make it easy. Ask others to join you so you feel supported. It will also motivate you to do it and have quality time with a friend or family member.  Find balance; do what you can and don’t have unrealistic expectations. A yoga pose is to explore no to concur. Have fun, be in the moment and enjoy each breath, then sit still to receive the benefits of your practice.  I speak more of starting a yoga practice on  http://breastcanceryogablog.com/2013/06/03/understanding-breathing-or-should-i-say-prana/ and vist our YouTube Channel and watch some helpful and healthful tips http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPX5ucaZvlg.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Supported Bridge – Reclined Yoga Pose For Breast Cancer & Lymphedema

Supported BridgeSupported Bridge Yoga Pose for Breast Cancer

By Diana Ross, Registered Yoga Therapist
Physical Benefits of Reclined Yoga Poses
This specific, reclined, supported, yoga pose combined with deep breaths is intended to support recovery from breast cancer and assist in managing lymphedema. This yoga pose is a mild inversion that calms the nervous system and quiets the mind. Excellent chest opener which will free the breath.

Benefits

  • Strengthens buttocks, quads and hamstrings
  • Post surgical benefits of reducing fibrous adhesions and scar tissue
  • Opens chest and ribs, massages spine, frees the breath Opens front of body and pelvis
  • Raises hips above heart to reduce heart rate Alleviates stress and mild depression
  • Helps relieve symptoms of menopause
  • Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, and sinusitis.

Instructions

  1. Begin on your back. Make sure head is in a natural alignment.
  2. Your back can rest on folded blanket so that your back body/kidneys feel soft and supported.
  3. Knees remain bent with ankles underneath. Place a block in between feet to help with alignment of knees and ankles.
  4. Arms relax along side body, palms facing up.
  5. Notice your breath and focus completely on relaxing your body starting with the crown of your head to the tips of your toes.
  6. Stay in this pose as long as comfortable. If uncomfortable start with a smaller bolster or blankets.
  7. You have the option of arms extended over.
  8. Stay for 10 full breaths/or more.
  9. When finished roll on to side off of the bolster(bolsters).

Note: If the bridge is too high adjust to lower bolster or folded blankets.

To experience the benefits of yoga for breast cancer, it is essential that you begin with simple, gentle yoga movements. You should also consult a doctor before you begin practicing yoga. It is also necessary that you follow a yogic diet that consists of a mainly vegetarian diet to enhance the benefits of yoga.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

The Thrill is Gone – Journey With Lymphedema Continues

Lymphedema Journey With Lesley Ronson-BrownBy Lesley Ronson Brown, 500 Hour Yoga Teacher

As my journey with lymphedema continues, I find I am tiring of it. It is no longer something new or something to get used to. The thrill is gone. Not that it was ever too thrilling, mind you; but it was interesting to learn about and begin to navigate my way through the lymphedema maze. I think, however, I had an underlying hope that if I did everything I was supposed to, that somehow it would go away or lessen substantially. But it hasn’t. It hasn’t gotten too much worse, but some days my arm is definitely bigger and some days a bit smaller. But it seems to be bigger more often than smaller. I feel resigned. This is one long-term relationship I would rather do without.

So what’s a girl to do? Sometimes when I’m stuck and not in the flow (get the lymphedema pun?!), I pretend I am a friend advising someone who is stuck in the same situation. I would tell myself it’s time to set up a counseling/action plan. First, I need to listen to myself and acknowledge my true feelings of frustration, dismay and sadness. Acknowledge that I am in the doldrums, as if on a plateau, a lonely plateau. And then figure a way out of it. Like an explorer lost in a jungle. Time to send out an SOS. And guess who I want to come to my rescue?!

Prince Charming! Yes, sad to say, that fantasy is still a real one. I want my prince to come. But he doesn’t have to take me away. I just want him to make my doctor and physical therapy and lymphatic drainage massage appointments. I admit, I want him to massage my arm, too. And OK, OK, I want him to magically charm my arm into being its regular size again.

But this ain’t no fairy tale. And the only one who can “charm the arm” is me. But I don’t wanna!!!!!! I want to pout, put my hands on my hip, say “agghhh” while moving my heavy-metal-concert be-boppin’ head, but with more speed and more jerkiness. Attracting Prince Charming while doing so, of course.

Just the thought of doing that, though, makes me laugh because it’s not quite my style. But sometimes it’s helpful to get out of your style. It can jumpstart you onto a different path. Hopefully, a better path. Realistically, I know spending more time on my yoga mat as a student, not a teacher, will help me. Just by doing yoga, the frustration fluctuations will begin to lessen, becoming less extreme. Practicing more pranayama, or breathwork, will begin to quieten my ego and move me towards accepting what is. My action plan could involve more volunteer work as that is always a good way to move my ego away from its focus on me, me, me, me, me. I will devote more time to massaging my arm myself. Maybe I can charm it a bit. Or at least find it more charming and lovable as it is.

Even though I will do all that, I have a confession. It is kind of fun to rant and rave. It’s fun to sometimes flail about. Especially for those of us who are usually the nice ones, the happy, positive ones who can handle everything with what looks like ease and even luck. It feels cool to morph from Ms. Perky to Ms. Jerky, and watch people’s reactions when we bust out. It is powerful! I strongly suggest it for all you nice girls out there. It’s a definite scene stealer and a good strategy to get your way because people are stunned into shock. Trust me, they don’t like it when Ms. Nice Girl Perky starts changing. But, unlike our human companions, lymphedema doesn’t care. It isn’t going to budge, no matter how much I stomp or how many deals I try to make with it.

So, since Prince Charming hasn’t shown up yet to take care of my arm, and that arm isn’t going to budge by itself, no matter how I act; I guess it’s time to put on my big girl panties, stomp into my thigh high boots, wriggle into my hoop skirt with the “smart ass white bitch” patch embroidered on it and sashay up some action. Oh, yeah!…now that’s a great visual, isn’t it?

Lesley BrownLesley Ronson Brown is a two-time breast cancer survivor and a three-time lymph node cancer survivor.  She has had lymphedema since 2011 and has learned how to manage it through traditional and complementary therapies.  Lesley is a certified Yoga teacher, with a specialty certification in Restorative Yoga, and has taught for more than 15 years.  She also is certified in Pilates and Group Fitness Exercise. But her favorite thing to teach is yoga!  She currently is completing her 500-hour yoga teacher training and is writing a thesis on Yoga and Lymphedema.

Topsy Turvy Travels – Lymphedema Journey

Lyphedema  ManagementTOPSY TURVY  TRAVELS by Lesley Ronson Brown: Yoga & Lymphedema Expert
September 2013

So what helps us through our lymphedema or cancer journey?  Whether our journey is dealing with lymphedema, chemo, radiation or some other treatment or test, we often travel through turbulent terrain.

The answer is different for each of us, depending on our personalities, needs, environments, etc.  But to safely traverse the minefields of cancer treatment and its side effects, which sometimes is lymphedema, we each need to figure that out.  Just like when we take a trip, it tends to go better if we have a plan.

If you aren’t the rustic type, you wouldn’t book yourself into a top of the Alps campground, sleeping perilously on a mountainside, next to a sheep that doesn’t even say “baa baa” in English.  No, you’d be at the Four Seasons or something as close to that as you could afford.  A charming B&B on a small Parisian street would be wonderful.  But if you are more outdoorsy, you might not be able to stand staying in more conventional lodging.Lymphedema Jpourney

So why don’t we take the same approach to traveling with cancer?  Traveling with lymphedema?  Why don’t we figure out what we need for a comfortable trip?

A big factor is that none of us really want to go on this journey.  We all find ourselves on this trip against our will.  We didn’t choose it.  We don’t want it.  But darn it, we got it.

So we can choose to pout or to put out.  Put out what we need to navigate this trip as comfortably as we can.  What do we do to move from merely surviving to thriving on this journey?  We do some soul searching, meditation, quiet thinking, maybe yoga, and then we bust out!!

Figure out what makes you tick and what you need.  You probably already know it. Look at how you like to spend your time.  Look at what brings joy to your heart.  Do it!  Look at what you can’t stand to do.  Don’t do that!

When I first got cancer, everyone wanted to drive me to chemo or sit with me while I was there.  But I really didn’t need or want that. If I had felt tired or poorly, I would have asked them for help with such things.  But I was able to drive myself and frankly, I liked having time by myself to read or to sleep.  So instead, I got them all to come over to my house and clean out my cabinets and closets!  That’s what I really needed.

But for many of us, it’s nice to have someone with us for chemo or a medical appointment.  They can get us water or coffee, or talk with us.  They can take notes for us when it’s hard to remember exactly what the doctor or nurse said. They can help us walk if we feel weak.  Ask for what you need, not what people think you need.Breast Cancer Lymphedema

When lymphedema started showing up, my friends encouraged me to delve into it to learn more. Because I like fashion and enjoy accessorizing just about everything, they accompanied me to find sleeves that were fun to wear, but also therapeutic, of course.  No one told me to just suck it up,
or be stuck with it in a way that would get me down.

When I first got cancer in 2006, a friend gave me a little ceramic plaque that said, “Put on a little lipstick, you’ll be fine.”  So I did.  And I was fine… most of the time. Now, we all know the lipstick didn’t actually make me better, but it made me feel better and look better. And that is what made me better.  It gave me hope.  It made me buck up when I didn’t feel like bucking up.  And lipstick does that.  So does eye liner and blush.  Do you know who knew that and built his company on that philosophy?  Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon.  Years ago, he told his employees that they didn’t sell lipstick.  They sold hope.

Even though the cancer has come back a time or two or three or four, in my mind, I am fine.  Not cured.  Not healed.  But fine. I put on my lipstick and am fortunate to be able to manage my various diseases with grace.  Like anything, that takes effort and determination.  I have chosen to use my energy to make my journey more comfortable.  You can, too.

Lesley BrownLesley Ronson Brown is a two-time breast cancer survivor and a three-time lymph node cancer survivor.  She has hadlymphedema since 2011 and has learned how to manage it through traditional and complementary therapies.  Lesley is a certified Yoga teacher, with a specialty certification in Restorative Yoga, and has taught for more than 15 years.  She also is certified in Pilates and Group Fitness Exercise. But her favorite thing to teach is yoga!  She currently is completing her 500-hour yoga teacher training and is writing a thesis on Yoga and Lymphedema.

Breast Cancer Lymphedema Etiquette

Lymphedema Etiquette

Etiquette Schmetiquette…or “So What’s Up with Your Arm?”

Lesley Ronson Brown – Certified Yoga Teacher.

One day I was walking though our local city hall and I heard a voice behind me shouting, “Oh!  Breast Cancer, huh?!”  The shouter loped up beside me, pointed at my compression sleeve-clad arm and loudly jabbered away about breast cancer.  I was speechless and could only stare at her as I kept walking.  Faster and faster.  I felt invaded, stunned, violated and angry. While I am very open and happy to talk about my breast cancer and lymphedema experience, I prefer to do it on my own terms.  In a more select venue.  Without shouting.  Like on a blog.

People still ask about my sleeved arm, but usually in a quieter manner. It is similar to being pregnant when everyone has to make a comment or ask a question.  When are you due?  Is it your first one?  How’s that morning sickness?  While this can feel intrusive and sometimes annoying, at least it is about what is usually a joyful event.  And no one has to point and ask, “What happened to your belly?”  I think they know.

So how do we answer these questions?  I won’t even type what I often think to say!  Though I will share my favorite comeback with you:   “I bitch slapped someone.”
The poor man who asked about my arm looked so horrified that I felt badly.  But it did shut him up.  He asked me no more questions.  He backed away from me.  I felt a surge of empowerment, which was nice, because dealing with major illnesses can make us feel powerless or resigned.

Like anything that hurts, time can be a great healer.  Getting used to wearing our compression sleeves or bandages is a big help in how we present ourselves to others. I felt awkward and self-conscious when I first began wearing my sleeve which contributed to the distress I felt from the city hall shouter.  Today I might have put my hand on her arm to quell her comments and said, “I beg your pardon?” with a Maggie Smith-look that would let her know that no more comments are welcome.  Now I usually say,  “I had surgery which caused my arm to swell and this compresses it to keep the swelling down.”  I find this simple answer works best.  People don’t usually ask what type of surgery it was.  And their look of curiosity and concern lessens even more when I add, “But it doesn’t hurt!”  They actually seem relieved.

I like to wear colorful sleeves, often with patterns, that I use like fashion accessories.  When I do this, I move with more joy and lightheartedness which keeps people focused on me vs. just my arm.  People think I am very hip and have a full arm tattoo!  In fact, I get more questions about my arm when I wear the plain beige ones, since they look more bandage-like. I still wear the plain ones, too; it depends on my outfit. Like all fashion, it is the solid dark black sleeve or smaller prints that make my arm look the slimmest.  The larger prints can be quite fun, but not so slimming. If you don’t have access to try on different sleeves, try on a pair of solid dark pants in a retail store and then a pair with a large red hibiscus on your rear end.  You’ll see what I’m talking about!  But a slim looking arm is not the most important thing.  Wear what you feel best in and what will bring you good health.  That is what is important.
Lymphedema Yoga
Wearing fun sleeves helps, but it is yoga that helps me reach into myself and develop skills to handle things like this and other life situations.  How we handle dealing with cancer or lymphedema is how we handle everything in our lives.  If we look at things positively, yoga helps us maintain the equilibrium that comes with a positive outlook. If we look at things negatively, yoga can move us in a more positive direction. Yoga helps us feel connected, which helps us feel better about everything.  When we feel disconnected, we are not grounded and have nothing to hang onto. That does not feel good, so we act in ways that do not benefit us or the people around us.  Deep yoga breathing and asana can ground us and return us to a sense of calm and well being.  Do it!

About Lesley Ronson Brown is a two-time breast cancer survivor and a three-time lymph node cancer survivor.  She has hadlymphedema since 2011 and has learned how to manage it through traditional and complementary therapies.  Lesley is a certified Yoga teacher, with a specialty certification in Restorative Yoga, and has taught for more than 15 years.  She also is certified in Pilates and Group Fitness Exercise.

How To Use A Dry Brush For Breast Cancer & Lymphedema

Dry Brush For Breast CancerBy Diana Ross, E-RYT 500 Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga.

Dry brushing stimulates the skin and circulates lymph fluid which is vital for overall health. The skin is the largest organ in the body and is responsible for a quarter of the body’s detoxification. The ability of the skin to excrete toxins is of paramount importance. Dry skin brushing helps to shed dead skin cells, which improves skin texture and cell renewal.

How To Use A Dry Brush For Breast Cancer & Lymphedema

  1. Dry Brush your entire body before you shower, preferably in the morning or before bed. This helps loosen and remove dead skin and uric acid crystals.
  2. Start at the soles of your feet doing circular movements, then brush upwards on your legs toward your heart. Use long, even strokes.
  3. Brush all the way up your legs, scooping forward from behind your hips to your tummy. If you have cellulite on your hips and thighs, concentrate their a little longer.
  4. Then begin circular movements over your tummy. Start with up on right and down on left, simulating the natural movement of the bowels.
  5. Be kind in the thin sensitive skin areas of inner arm, arm pits or tops of hands and not directly on breasts. Avoid brushing anywhere the skin is broken or where you have a rash, infection, cut or wound.
  6. When ready, start the shower with warm water and end briefly with cold. Let the cold water start at your legs then the heart is last. This hot/cold therapy further stimulates the lymphatic system which improves overall circulation.
  7. Dry off vigorously and massage pure plant oils into your skin or spray on Simply Lavender. You may want your skin to breathe for a while too. Enjoy this process of good health and detoxification.

Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes, which greatly aids the lymphatic drainage of the entire body. When the body rids itself of toxins, it is able to run more efficiently in all areas. Dry skin brushing stimulates the lymph canals to drain toxic mucoid matter into the colon, thereby purifying the entire system. This enables the lymph to perform its house-cleaning duties by keeping the blood and other vital tissues detoxified.

Visit Breast Cancer Yoga To Purchase Dry Brush

Diana Ross ContibutorAbout Diana Ross: An expert in the field of yoga, and complementary herbal medicines. She has dedicated the last 30 years studying yoga philosophy and Native American herbs. Her credentials are as an E-RYT 500 (Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher) and CYT (Certified Yoga Therapist).  Diana’s system of yoga is KaliRay TriYoga. She has studied with Yogini Kali Ray “Kaliji” for 18 years is certified from Basics to Level 2. As founder of Breast Cancer Yoga, and as a survivor Diana wants to make a difference and offer hope, health and support.

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