How To Manage Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema With Yoga

Yoga For Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema BCRF

Angela Strynkowski, Founder of A Jewel In The Lotus with LympheDiva’s compression garment.

Author: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500, Posted By: Breast Cancer Yoga Staff.

Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema (BCRL) is more common than you would think after surgery or treatment. BCRL can be quite devastating to patients, as its far-reaching consequences are a constant reminder of their cancer. It is also one of those things that is not given enough attention to. Unfortunately once you have lymphedema – you have it. You will need to learn to manage it and yoga can help.

Practicing continuous flowing movements has a positive impact on the lymphatic system, and in particular Lymphedema. When lymph fluid is disrupted through breast cancer surgery, trauma or infection there may be an excessive fluid build up. This stagnant fluid can play havoc on the tissues and create swelling. There also can be a reduction of the oxygen intake or absorption to the lymphatic system; all of which increases the chance for infection.

Practicing a flowing yoga benefits lymphatic circulation:

  • Keeps the lymphatic fluid pumping throughout the body’s channels, rather than accumulating or backing up.
  • It is great for maintaining healthy breast tissue.
  • To keep this fluid moving, we need to also foster relaxation.
  • It will facilitate renewed or restored strength, and flexibility.

Flowing yoga movements builds strength and benefits immune system:

  • Gentle flowing movements develop a supple spine and a strong nervous system.
  • When the nervous system is in balance the parasympathetic and sympathetic system work together creating great calm.
  • When flowing in the practice the poses encourage digestion, assimilation and elimination.
  • Yoga stimulates the body’s immune system to maintain health.

Exercise, breathing and relaxation may offer another self-management tool for patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema. Self management may also include attention to skin care and self massage, wearing a compression sleeve, elevating the affected arm and knowledge of any other risk reduction.

It is important to note, “Use moderation when starting something new or when returning.” Also it is important to do your yoga in a room where the temperature is comfortable, not hot. Hot yoga is not recommended; it is contraindicated as heat will add to the lymphatic load. Some may want to wear a compression sleeve and gauntlet if swollen, if not swollen do not restrict the arm.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cared and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana made 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 if you have questions.

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  1. Dr.usha Rani M.R says:

    Hi its a nice blog and well done..Iam Dr.usha working for oncology care past 5 years teaching yohga therapy to cancer patients. Nice article..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Natures Way Massage.

    Liked by 1 person


    Hello I am 16mths post bi lateral mastectomy. i did not need chemo or radiotherapy and I am on Letrazole for 5yrs. I have been recently diagnosed with lymphodema in my arms and I have pain and weakness in both sides. I would love to try ANYTHING that will give some ease and relief, I am disabled due to atrhritis and have to use crutches and a wheelchair to get about. Is this going to prove a difficulty in trying yoga? I realise that there are some of the positions that I will be unable to do but is there an adapted version that I could manage?

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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.

      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.


  4. Stella Ferry - Awakening the Soul Magazine, Classes and Soul Integration Workshops says:

    Reblogged this on AWAKENING THE SOUL MAGAZINE and commented:
    Cancer sufferers are turning to yoga for relief of some symptoms and peace of mind

    Liked by 1 person

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