Why Cancer Patients Use Yoga To Cope With Diagnosis & Treatment

Yoga Counteracts Anxiety And Stress During Cancer Treatment

It is well documented that yoga decreases stress hormones, like cortisol and increases GABA (gamma-Aminonbutyric acid) levels. GABA is an important calming chemical produced by the brain that counteracts anxiety and stress. GABA is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter chemical in the brain. GABA is responsible for balancing mood levels.

Restorative Yoga Practice Increases Cancer Patients Physical Stamina

It is believed that certain physical reaction disorders are due to the failure to produce adequate levels of GABA. Through brain imaging it has been shown that a restorative yoga practice increases GABA levels markedly. When GABA levels are maintained with breast cancer patients, physical stamina increases. Daily activities like climbing stairs, walking and doing the laundry become easier compared with those that don’t engage in a yoga practice or exercise.

Patients Who Practice Yoga Appear to Cope Better

Depression is also important to address with (breast) cancer patients. The uncertainty about prognosis and treatment, concerns of pain or even death, lack of physical and functional abilities and social changes contribute to depression. Patients who practice yoga appear to cope better with symptoms of illness, and the side effects and distresses of treatments. It is sited that the physical poses, breathing exercises, meditation techniques are especially helpful components of a yoga practice.

The proper balancing of the physical, and then emotional body are key to recovery, and good health. We need both but they need to be in balance, and yoga works directly at balancing them.

Best Yoga Poses To Encourage And Energize Cancer Patients
Suggested Cancer Self-Help Healing Books:

Dawn BradfordAbout 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.

Simple Yoga Backbend For Breast Cancer Physical Therapy

This simple and therapeutic yoga pose offers many benefits to breast cancer patients in treatment and recovery. The main benefits of this pose are that it elevates the chest, deepens the breath, promotes lymphatic drainage of breasts and widens the pectoral muscles.

Benefits

  • Balances autonomic nervous system
  • Allows the shoulder blades to feel supported comfortably
  • Spreads the clavicle, relieves pressure on brachial plexus (network of nerves)
  • Stretches pectoral muscles
  • Quickly promotes inner calm
  • Elevates chest, and deepens breath
  • Promotes lymphatic drainage of breasts & pectorals
  • Post-surgical benefits of reducing fibrous adhesions and scar tissue

Instructions
This pose requires three cylinder bolsters and one rectangle bolsters or many cushions from the couch and many blankets would work, too (well worth the effort.)

  1. Begin seated on folded blankets/cushion with legs extended over one cylinder bolster with feet resting on a folded blanket, small pillow or another bolster.
  2. Place two yoga cylinder bolsters/pillows, separated 3/4 inches apart behind back running horizontal to torso.
  3. Roll back onto bolsters, placing arms and shoulders in between where there  is an opening and rest head on bolster. A small pillow is not needed.
  4. Stay in this pose for 10 minutes depending on comfort level or make necessary adjustments to enjoy this pose to the fullest.
  5. If needed, you can place hands on chest or belly with fingers interlaced together.
  6. Elbows may rest on props.
  7. When finished, sit up, coming off of the bolster/blankets, place bolster on lap, and drape the torso over the bolster in a forward bend.
  8. Enjoy the forward release of your spine.

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.

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

Linda Scheele RYT 200, has been studying Ana Forrest style yoga for over 5 years. Linda has the ability to connect with her students, inspire self-confidence regardless of one’s age or yoga experience. Linda is registered with Yoga Alliance and certified as a Breast Cancer Yoga Teacher. Available products from Linda for download are Chair Yoga and Yoga Nidra .

Cancer, Gratitude Practice & Yoga: Easy Ways To Significantly Improve Your Life

Developing gratitude is a practice and a skill which yoga supports. One way to engage in a gentle practice of gratitude is through the use of mudra. Mudras are hand positions and often called ‘yoga for the hands’. They are gestures which ‘seal’ our intentions or desires by focusing breath and energy into our mudras.

Lotus Mudra is one way to contemplate our gratitude. By joining our hands at the heart-space, we keep the base of the palms joined and touch pinky and thumbs together;  while spreading open our fingers like a lotus flower. The lotus flower is nourished by mud and fed by sunshine.

For cancer survivors, and I am one, this lovely gesture has even deeper and richer meaning. From the murky depth of cancer, there continues to be rays of life and hope. Can we hold both truths in our mind’s eye?

I find that a simple bouquet of flowers goes a long way to nudging my mind toward gratitude.  As we hold the Lotus Mudra, we can fill the container of our hearts by naming our blessings. Practicing gratitude takes less than 3 seconds and this small change can bring big rewards to our immune system.

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” depends on feeding the soul. We acknowledge the mud we all swim in, and see that difficult circumstances may bring opportunities, as well. I was talking with a newly diagnosed cancer patient just yesterday. He has been stubbornly independent his whole life. And he told me he was proud of himself for being independent. I told him that cancer diagnosis and treatment was a time to open up receiving help. We don’t “do cancer alone”!

Research tells us that those who have a :

  • Social network, far better during cancer treatment
  • Yoga can help fatigue and sleep
  • More fruits and veggies in our diets is better fuel for our bodies
  • Spiritual practices can be supportive of our immune system
  • Developing coping skills can ease anxiety

Yoga practices are more than postures for the body or asanas. A whole person is mind, body, emotions and spirit. We simply unite these aspects of the human experience with breathing consciously. As we progress, we consciously awaken to our everyday lives and see anew. We needn’t travel to India, yoga’s homeland, or even leave our beds to give gratitude aloud. I am not advocating ignoring the pain that cancer and its treatments bring. I am saying that these muddy waters are rich soul-food which demands we rise above the darkness. That in the midst of hardship, we do not overlook the tenacity of a weed to grow out of cement.

And though I don’t know you, when I give thanks during the Lotus Mudra, I will call your soul by name and include you in my gratitude. We journey together.

About Jean Di Carlo Wagner: Owner of Yogabeing.net
E-RYT200, E-RYT500 certified with Yoga Alliance
Yoga Therapist with International Alliance of Yoga Therapists
Atma Yoga Teacher Training, certified 500 hours Los Angeles
A Gentle Way Yoga, certified 200 hours
Silver Age Yoga, certified 200 hours

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Suggested Cancer Self-Help Healing Books:

 

5 Ways Yoga Benefits Cancer Post-Treatment Fatigue

Yoga For Cancer Related FatigueIf you’re a cancer survivor and feeling tired or even worse, even long after treatment, you are not alone. About one-third of breast cancer survivors experience this debilitating condition for anywhere from a year to several years post-treatment.

Cancer-related fatigue, (CRF)is very common in breast cancer patients.  Fatigue can often be confused with tiredness. Tiredness happens to everyone. One would expect to be tired  after certain activities, treatments or from daily activities. Sleep and resting is most important when recovering. Fatigue can prevent you from functioning normally and impacts your quality of life.

However, fatigue is an unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness is not relieved with sleep. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from one month to six months or longer).

How To Cope With Cancer-Related Fatigue
The precise reason is unknown, but it may be related to the process of the disease itself or through the chemotherapies and radiation treatments. (CRF) is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its associated treatments. Usually, it comes on suddenly, does not result from activity or exertion, and is not relieved by rest or sleep. It is often described as “paralyzing.” It may continue even after treatment is complete.

What Cancer Patients Can Expect From A Yoga Practice :

  1. women with post-treatment fatigue were still feeling more invigorated than before they started
  2. women become more energized
  3. women see improvement in mood and sleep
  4. women are typically more relaxed, and more aware
  5. women are more accepting of what life brings to them

To Assist Patients As They Cope With CancerUnfortunately there’s no conventional therapy to resolve it, but studies are increasingly showing yoga designed specifically for breast cancer survivors is helping women to catch a second wind. In fact, a recent UCLA study found that three months after beginning yoga, women with post-treatment fatigue were still feeling more invigorated than before they started. Not only do women become more energized, but they see improvement in mood and sleep; they are typically more relaxed, more aware, and more accepting of what life brings to them. All these attributes are so critical as we work toward our continued mental and physical well-being, and ultimately, our healing.  We suggest ABC Workbook For Cancer Patients for additional post-treatment tools. 

 

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 atinfo@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

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Breast Cancer Yoga Therapy for Stretching the Area of the Incision

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Gentle or restorative yoga poses can be very healing if done with care and awareness.Once you receive clearance from your doctor to begin exercise try a gentle restorative yoga practice.

A gentle or restorative yoga practice may be very healing in stretching the area of the incision, the calming down of the stress attached to the surgery as well as bringing the ROM, (range of motion) back to the entire area of the chest.

Fish pose opens up the heart and since the heart is connected to your lymphatic system, which is your central immune system, these glands are stimulated in this yoga posture. In Fish pose, you are opening your rib cage, lungs and upper back, therefore opening yourself to more love.Fish Pose For Breast Cancer
This pose benefits the student with a sense of deep relaxation, inner calm,and of being grounded. More benefits include:

Benefits

  • Quiets the mind quickly
  • Promotes lymphatic drainage of breasts and pectoral muscles
  • Post surgical benefits of reducing fibrous adhesions and scar tissue
  • 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
  • A large heart opener that frees the breath
  • Stretches the deep hip flexors (psoas) and the muscles (intercostals) between the ribs
  • Stimulates and stretches the belly muscles and front of the neck
  • Strengthens the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck
  • Tones the front of your neck and your abdominals
  • Relieves tension in your neck, throat, and shoulders
  • Improves posture – has therapeutic effect on rounded-shoulders, asthma, spasms in the bronchial tubes, and other respiratory issues

fish-pose-for-lymphedemaInstructions

  1. Use a generous amount of props to support this wonderful pose.
  2. Start with a folded blanket under your hips, and blocks (side-by-side) or bolster under your upper spine, and another pillow, bolster or folded blanket for your shoulders. The goal is to feel your heart open and your chest lifted.
  3. Keep your legs close together and don’t let your feet flop out.
  4. Remain conscious of the pose, and especially of your breath.
  5. Play around with supporting props. Make sure each prop feels perfect.
  6. If you want to fully express the pose; bring both arms overhead and extend in both directions.
  7. This is a pose that can be sustained for 5/10 minutes.
  8. When releasing out of the pose, point the toes mightily and come up with a lifted chest (if possible).
  9. Once up flex your feet and hang forward to release the backbend effects.
Breast Cancer Yoga Fish PoseTo 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.

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

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 atinfo@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Bali Seal Yoga Pose For Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema

Bali Seal is the pose that helps create strength from within.  Take it slow if you are starting out. After a few lifts and releases you will begin to feel the energy charge through you, giving you the internal as well as the external lift you need. Let us know how it felt. Namaste’

Benefits

  • Stretches spine and opens chest for increased spinal mobility
  • Increased shoulder ROM, and stretches breast tissues
  • Stimulates cervical and axillary lymphatic drainage
  • Strengthens and stretches quadriceps and core  muscles
  • Opens rib cage
  • Post surgical benefits of reducing fibrous adhesions and scar tissue
  • Great for opening lungs
  • Strengthens lower back and squeezes kidneys

Contraindications

  • Knee injury

Instructions

  1. Begin seated on an appropriate size prop in between legs, ankles should  be comfortable.
  2. INHALE, bring arms in front, interlace hands in COMPLETION MUDRA (hands interlaced with thumbs and forefingers straight) and rise up  bringing arms overhead or to a comfortable place to lift up.
  3. EXHALE, lower arms and seat back down on heels, or a supporting prop simultaneously.
  4. Continue to INHALE, and lift up.
  5. EXHALE, and lower down.
  6. Coordinate the breath with the movement.
  7. Continue to flow up and down bringing a gentle attitude to each movement.
  8. Breathe deeply and allow your body to feel energized and rejuvenated.

Yoga Therapy attempts to bridge a gap between conventional medicine and a “5000” year old system of yoga. However, our “system” of medicine mainly treats the body, while the “system” of yoga supports healing on a physical, psychological and spiritual level simultaneously. The ultimate responsibility for staying healthy rests with us. We must educate ourselves and be active in our own wellness program.

Diana RossDiana Ross, E-RYT 500 founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana was a restorative yoga teacher that cared about making a difference in your recovery process. Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products were designed to support you emotionally and physically from breast cancer surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

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Breast Cancer Yoga DVD: A Restorative Yoga Therapy with Specialized Breathing Exercises

It is our pleasure to share this flowing restorative yoga practice with you. It is very important to start right where you are, and build up slowly. This will help in supporting and maintaining a positive attitude and a healing foundation. In time, with practice there will be improvement to sleeping patterns, a decrease in joint pain and an increase in range of motion. You will begin to experience less fatigue and gain more energy, strength and stamina. A calmness, along with mental clarity are some of the benefits of building your own yoga practice. Start with 10 minutes AND then begin to expand the time.

Order Here:

This DVD introduces three breaths to train the mind to focus, complete, cleansing and ujjayi breaths also 12 restorative poses for breast cancer recovery, lymphedema management and cancer related fatigue.

Make sure your props ready. They can be household items, blankets, pillows, cushions and ties. Props are instrumental in your support and comfort.

We will finish with deep relaxation. It is Here all the benefits of this yoga practice will be absorbed into the body. We hope yoga will become part of your life.

This instructional video is intended to aid in post-surgical recovery from breast cancer
•to help relieve pain and manage lymphedema
•to reduce stress and anxiety
•to decrease fatigue and increase energy
•and to promote breast health

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.

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Why To Use Integrative Medicine & Yoga During Breast Cancer

Healing truly begins when we acknowledge that it is our own responsibility, and not that of our doctors or the healthcare system to provide for our innate healing capacity.

When we are first diagnosed with cancer we feel our doctors should be there to help speed up the optimal function of our natural organic healing systems. Currently, our healthcare system in the United States is inadequate at contributing and supporting our health, and it is far too expensive, and unsustainable. The healthcare “debate” has focused primarily on insurance reform, but discussion on the content of optimal healthcare and the use of complementary therapies as part of integrative medicine has yet to begin in earnest. Many experts have weighed in, but I believe that integrative medicine with its emphasis on disease prevention and healthcare promotion is the only practical way to transform our healthcare system.

Integrative medicine, also known as Complementary Therapy is growing in acceptance but insurance companies are slow to follow, let alone advocate for them. This is why we need to advocate and educate ourself this way we ensure that doctors of the future will recognize their primary role in supporting the optimal functioning of their patients’ innate healing systems, and not just the management of a disease. Focusing on each individual’s innate nature, appropriately using inexpensive and non-invasive means like diet and lifestyle changes to both prevent and treat the root causes of disease, and only resorting to invasive and drug therapies to treat illness and suppress symptoms when absolutely necessary. Wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both worlds when treating our illnesses and diseases?

We are beginning to see a change prevailing in our healthcare system. Integrative medicine is a healing-oriented medicine takes into account the whole person (body, mind and spirit) which includes all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Therapy such as acupuncture is licensed in many states. Homeopathy, chiropractic and naturopathy are becoming more mainstream and frame the therapeutic relationship between patient and the healthcare practitioner. We want to have both a conventional and complementary holistic approach. We want to carefully incorporate conventional and complementary therapies to help us stay well and support our healing process. Therapies such as yoga, aromatherapy, and massage are great too in supporting the mind and body relationship.

Yoga Therapy attempts to bridge a gap between conventional medicine and a “5000” year old system of yoga. However, our “system” of medicine mainly treats the body, while the “system” of yoga supports healing on a physical, psychological and spiritual level simultaneously. The ultimate responsibility for staying healthy rests with us. We must educate ourselves and be active in our own wellness program.

Dawn - Breast Cancer Authority BlogAbout 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.

Wide Angle – Arms Extended: Breast Cancer Yoga Pose

It is supported and endorsed in many research communities that yoga has a tremendous positive impact on our physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual well-being. Fearful thoughts associated with breast cancer often prompts us to research every possible alternative or integrated self care option. Yoga is an option that can become a vital aid for us to handle the stressors from treatments, fatigue and depression and from the unknown. Practicing yoga can have better fitness outcomes, less stress and improved biological indicators of future risk of secondary cancers.

Benefits

  • Stretches arm pit chest, biceps, inner forearm
  • Pectoral muscle is widened
  • Opens shoulder joint and improves flexibility
  • Increases circulation and blood flow in chest
  • Strong hip opener and deep twist in inner core
  • Lengthen and strengthen side body and increases vitality
  • Massages lower abdominal organs and glands
  • Develops core steadiness
  • Enhances circulation to chest and shoulders
  • Expands ribs for deeper breathing

Instructions

  1. Begin in a wide stance, legs 3 feet apart with feet parallel.
  2. EXHALE, bend forward onto bolster or yoga blocks (make sure the leg remains anchored).
  3. Begin to roll out bolster so the arms can straighten (make surehips stay over knees and ankles.
  4. INHALE, draw tailbone and spine back so the spine lengthens and the chest comes toward the ground and allow the back bodyto broaden.
  5. EXHALE, lengthen sides of torso
  6. Let your legs and arms support the extension of the spine.
  7. Relax your neck and shoulders
  8. Stay for 5 full breaths, then return back to center.

Remember as you begin to practice yoga poses with awareness, you not only begin to feel better but you will also be able to feel; that is, you become sensitive to everything and everyone around you. As inner awareness expands and deepens both within and outside the body, we  consciously begin to overcome obstacles of fear, pain, anxiety. You can practice yoga in such a way that the practice becomes a much “larger yoga.” Our true nature is revealed through this new sensitivity and awareness. We intuitively begin to discover how to overcome certain obstacles on this journey with breast cancer.

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.

Yoga For Lymph Circulation: Arm Under Chest

Breast Cancer Yoga Arm Under Chest Yoga Pose

By:  Breast Cancer Yoga.

A really great way to relieve your shoulder tension and increase Range Of Motion for shoulder joints (frozen shoulder) associated with breast cancer recovery is with a chest extension inflection or better known in the yoga world as a heart opening flowing restorative yoga pose. With this wonderful yoga pose you will open up the heart, fill the lungs from the bottom up, and relieve shoulder tension.

Benefits:

  • Promote lymph circulation around axilla nodes
  • Helps heal scarring muscles and lessens tightness
  • Increases internal rotation and shoulder mobility
  • Strengthens scapula stabilizing muscle
  • Opens and lift chest
  • Increases ROM of shoulder joints – frozen shoulder
  • Increases internal rotation and shoulder mobility.
  • Releases shoulder tension that rounds your shoulders and binds your upper arm

Arms Under Chest Yoga Pose For Breast Cancer

Instructions:

  1. Begin on your back with knees bent in PARTIAL RECLINE. A neck roll or pillow can be used for added comfort.
  2. Lift hips up, slide right arm, palm down underneath lower back so you can see finger tips on left side. STOP IF YOU FEEL PAIN. Lower hips down and extend legs.
  3. Relax – breathe into the right side of upper chest until you feel a release in shoulder muscles.  Once the shoulder relaxes experiment sliding hand up your back towards shoulder blades.
  4. INHALE, left arm up and overhead for bigger additional stretch to breast region.
  5. Flow arm back up and down. When ready hold pose for 3/5 breaths.
  6. EXHALE lower arm back down, lift hips up and release arm from underneath.
  7. Repeat on other arm.

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.

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