Breath – Blood – Lymph Flow

Breast Cancer Yoga Savasana

By: Breast Cancer Yoga Staff.

Breathing Exercises And The Lymphatic System For Breast Cancer Lymphedema Management:The flow of lymph, which is rich in immune cells, improves with proper breathing. Furthermore, the expansion of the lungs air pockets increases the flow of both blood and lymph. This flow reduces infection in the lungs and other tissues. Breathing properly improves the functioning of the body’s organs stimulating digestion, assimilation and elimination.

Another benefit of the breath is how it supports the functioning of the body’s organs such as the improvement of the peristalsis movement which stimulates the liver so the release of bile will activate the detoxification process. By maintaining a large supply of oxygen in the lungs, many organs function better, including the brain.

The most important function of all is the stimulation of the “relaxation response” that results in lower tension and an overall improved sense of well being.

If we can build a regular asana practice with conscious breathing; we will release muscular tension, and consequently the nerves will relax. Here is where restorative poses are most helpful. Supported Bridge, Savasana, Supported Legs Up The Wall, Supported Child’s Pose are a few that are very restorative. When the breath is brought under control is improves the physical such that there is an efficient absorption of oxygen and the elimination of carbon dioxide. This will result in an improved mental and emotional state of mind.

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange: Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn 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.

Dry skin brushing can strengthen immunity, spark detoxification and reverse the hands of time – NaturalNews.com

Dry skin brushing can strengthen immunity, spark detoxification and reverse the hands of time - NaturalNews.com

Dry skin brushing can strengthen immunity, spark detoxification and reverse the hands of time via NaturalNews.com.

via NaturalNews.com.

Long used in Ayurveda, dry skin brushing is a powerful — yet exceptionally economical — healing therapy. Upon first glance, the practice may not seem like much. We may question how a quick session of brushing the skin can provide such impressive results as heightened immunity, reduction of cellulite and overall detoxification. As unlikely as it may seen, dry skin brushing delivers all of the above and more.

With this straightforward technique, you are on your way to glowing health, smooth skin and a happy lymphatic system — this last perk is especially important to keep immunity buzzing and your constitution robust. But how does it work?

When we brush the skin in an upward motion, not only are we removing surface toxins and dead skin cells, but we’re also stimulating the movement of lymphatic fluids — a secondary circulatory system that assists immunity by transporting white blood cells and removing waste. Since the lymph system doesn’t have a mechanism like the heart to keep fluid flowing, it needs to be manually encouraged through dry brushing, exercise, rebounding or yoga.

Skin brushing is also known for firming cellulite, thereby smoothing lumpy problem areas of the skin. However, don’t be fooled. The taming of cellulite isn’t simply a cosmetic concern, it’s also linked with a lower toxic load. Since cellulite is comprised of fatty toxic buildup, when we brush the skin, we are essentially helping dissolve these formations so they can be removed by the eliminatory channels of the body.

Beyond detoxification and promoting youthful skin, the practice also increases blood flow, improves muscle tone and tightens up sagging bits. On top of that, the production of hydrating oils is stimulated, further enhancing a healthy dermal surface. Dry skin brushing aids digestion as well as kidney function too.

Brush well and often

If you’re sold on the idea of dry brushing, here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Frequency – You should try to brush your skin at least once per day, with each session lasting between 2 and 20 minutes. Before your morning shower is ideal. Otherwise, a brushing session at night might prove to be too stimulating and interfere with sound sleep.
  • Brush type -- Look for a natural, stiff-bristled brush with a long, attachable handle for reaching tricky areas like the back. Avoid synthetic bristles, as they tend to be overly harsh and can damage the skin.
  • Method – Beginning with the feet, and moving up the legs, brush toward the heart. You want to use long, sweeping motions — not scrubbing or back and forth movements. And don’t brush so vigorously that the skin is red or irritated. You’re aiming for stimulation, not trauma. For the stomach area, brush counterclockwise. Next, focus on your backside with upward strokes. End the session with the hands, arms and chest. Avoid delicate areas like the face. Remember, both the skin and brush need to remain dry for the entire session. For maximum benefit, make sure to shower afterwards to remove dead skin cells and surface toxins.

Sources:
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com
http://www.huffingtonpost.com
http://www.naturalhealthmag.com.au
http://wakeup-world.com

About the author: Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.

 

 

 

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Dry Brush & Pink Salt Bath For Breast Cancer Lymphedema

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

Relaxation and detoxification of your body with a therapeutic bath is a complementary therapy that anyone can perform in the comfort of their own home. If in a cancer related weakened state please have friend or family member close by during and after a therapeutic Pink Salt bath and dry brush body massage.

A detox bath is thought to assist your body in eliminating toxins as well as absorbing the minerals and nutrients that are in the water. Most of all, it’ll leave you feeling refreshed and awakened. 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.

Relax & Detox Bath Instructions

  1. Schedule time for yourself
  2. Fill tub with hot water
  3. Add 4-6 ounces of “Pink Salt” aka Himalayan Salt
  4. Mix bath water gently with hand
  5. Enter bath and soak for at least 20 minute however 40 is recommended
  6. Be sure to drink plenty of water after a “Pink Salt” bath to rehydrate the healthy relaxed cells

After Bath Care
Be sure to stand up with care, baths can make person feel dizzy or lightheaded. Have a towel ready and use a dry brush to brush/rub the body down and help stimulate the lymphatic system.

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 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.

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.

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