Becoming Mindful For Breast Cancer Recovery

Becoming Mindful For Breast Cancer Recovery

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

What Does Mindful Mean? Why is it so Important? How Does it Help Breast Cancer Recovery?

Being mindful means “being conscious or aware of something directly.” Once mindful, you can foster positive change. Developing of a mindful practice, like yoga or breathing is the key to recovery. Mindfulness, whereby combining the breath consciously with yoga movements causes this awareness of the mind right into the present moment. Right where it needs to be in order to move forward and heal.

Why is it so important to be mindful? Because it stops the negative chatter of a restless and wandering mind. Stress and anxiety are some of the byproducts of this unmindfulness. We may become careless and lack clarity in making good decisions, especially health decisions when we are unmindful, or lack a degree of consciousness. It is right now, here where you become “present” to whatever is, or isn’t. Learning how to stay in a mindful state allows you to get past that which may cause undo stress or harm. This can be attained through the proper training of the breath, focus of the mind and movement of the body. When the breath, mind and body come together, consciously, the ability to create relaxation and a new found state of clarity is then realized. Here you can tackle recovery head on and with deep purpose.

How Does the Breath Make us Mindful?

“When the mind wonders; the breath is sure to follow” Swamini Kaliji

It is stated in yogic practices that when the mind jumps all over it is called “the monkey mind.” This unfocused mind can create stress and anxiety, all of which has a negative impact on the mind and body causing a profound effect on the autonomic nervous system which then increases stress hormones and overall emotional responses.

The reason being mindful is so valuable is that the mind is deeply incorporated with the breath. A mindful practice is cultivated through learning how to use the breath positively, or in partnership with the mind. It is an intentional act of unity, whereby unconscious thoughts and feelings of the mind are then brought to a single point of attention. This is achieved one way by focusing fully on the breath. Through rhythmically breathing (inhale and exhale of the same duration) we tap into our deepest inner resources for healing, and for relaxation. By flowing through a series of breaths, the body experiences an inner calm which then awakens the prana (life energy) and moves the mind towards a higher level of understanding. It is through the control of the breath, that the mind will reflect a higher knowledge and a positive state of confidence and self-esteem. It is emotionally challenging to learn you have cancer. A natural response is “Can I do this? “ Let this be the yoga practice of self-understanding.

The deeper the commitment to a Mindful Yoga and Breathing practice, the deeper the relaxation response will manifest, healing the trauma of worry, anxiety and fear associated with the diagnosis of breast cancer. It is challenging to start a yoga practice when this fear, stress, anxiety and depression surface. It is precisely when we need support, not only from our doctors, families and friends, but most importantly from other women who have breast cancer or even another type of cancer. These personal connections help us to feel “part of” a community who understands our emotions and experiences. Unconditional love creates miracles! Creating a strong support system and a safe place to be (oneself) are paramount to alleviating the stress that derives from breast cancer. A clear mind, a full breath and a body in motion are paramount for recovery. YOU are responsible for your healing process and progress so breathe deeply and move freely.

Breast Cancer Yoga has two therapeutic breathing exercise CD’s for good health.

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.

Expanding Lung Capacity

Expand Lung Capacity For Breast Cancer Recovery

By Ma Mokshapriya Shakti Ph.D. E-RYT & Co-Founder of Yoga Teachers Training Institute

By manipulating the breath, yoga believes that we develop control over our inner body and mind. 
Each element of the breath, inhalation or poorak, exhalation or rechak, and retention or kumbak can be controlled in various ways. Primarily we would like to control the duration and depth of each. In this session we will explore viloma praanayam. Viloma extends our breathing capacity. Please note that in all yoga breathing there should not be any strain. We start slowly and increase with practice.

Healing our physical, mental and spiritual body is a full time effort. We might as well “Just Do It,” because the alternative is suffering. So please set aside some time for these breathing practices. Results come slowly, but they come.

In viloma the breath is interrupted by several pauses, either in inhalation or exhalation or both.

Pause in Inhalation
You can sit up straight in a chair or lie down in shavasan. Relax the whole body and breath in for 2 counts, pause for 2 counts, inhale for 2 counts, pause for 2 counts and continue until the lungs are filled. Then exhale slowly. It is like climbing up the stairs, and then sliding down slowly. As you practice this, the number of stairs begin to increase. You can also increase the counts. Remember there should not be any strain. As the lung capacity increases you will also notice the breathing techniques becoming longer and more subtle. Practice 3 rounds to begin with and eventually increase to eleven rounds. Breathe normally after.

Pause in Exhalation
Take a full inhalation and exhale for 2 counts and pause for 2 counts, exhale for 2 counts and pause for 2 counts, continue until the lungs are completely empty. Practice 3 rounds to begin with and eventually increase to eleven rounds. Breathe normally after.

Pause in both Inhalation and Exhalation
In this technique we combine both. You pause during inhalation and your pause during exhalation. Try to make each equal.

There are many more breathing techniques, these are a healthy way to start. Also investigate Diana’s CD, Breath for Health and Recovery. Breath is only one way to gather more praana. It is the fastest way.

Praana or vital energy is separate from breath. They are molecules that attach to oxygen. Therefore we need to become aware of the intake of oxygenated food and water. Bottled water has lost its praana. It is better to filter the water. But if you cannot, allow the water to flow through the air into the glass to put a “praanic head” on it. Eating fresh food like salad and fruits gives us praana from mother nature. Once the food is cooked, chewing thoroughly increases the praana in the food.

No matter how well we eat, how many breathing exercises we do, our mind and emotions are the most important ingredient. As mentioned before, if we are happy we have more energy. If we are depressed our energy is depleted. So we need to really work on maintaining a balanced mental, emotional and spiritual body. This becomes very difficult when we are faced with devastating diseases.

Trust in God is very important. But during these devastating times, we usually ask “why has this happened to me?” Remember that a dis-ease starts in the emotional body. Our suppressed emotions, our anxieties and tensions all contribute. These may not even come from this lifetime. Any disease or even any physical discomfort requires us to make lifestyle changes. If we are willing to change we have a chance of recovery.

I am a firm believer in the healing power of prayer. But we must believe that we deserve it. Through the many years of teaching yoga, and spiritual guidance I have seen one simple technique to be most beneficial. It is simple and just requires us to be consistent. Even consistency becomes difficult. When we begin to feel better, sometimes we sabotage the effort. Therefore I need to remind you that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. As a spiritual being you deserve to manifest health and abundance.

The simple technique is the power of gratitude. Every morning, get up and write down 10 things that you are grateful for. If you have a hard time to find 10 items, remember that you can be grateful for having a more comfortable life like hot water, shoes etc. that many people on this planet do not have. After writing this daily for about a month, you can start doing it within your mind and only write it once a week. That once a week is important and should become a habit for life.

Being thankful is a prayer and is very powerful. That power translates to manifesting positive energy rather than our constant negative chatter; which manifests negativity. We are very powerful beings, we are made in the image of the devine.

I would like to thank you for allowing me to talk to you during this difficult time. If you have any questions, or would like further information you can e-mail me at info@teachyoga.org.
With Love and Respect
Ma Mokshapriya

MokshaPriya Breast Cancer Authority Blog ContributorMokshapriya is ordained as Swami Ma Mokshapriya Shakti Saraswati and has taught yoga, meditation and philosophy for over 40 years. She currently teaches and gives guidance in Queens NY at the Yogashakti Yoga Center. She is the co-founder of the Yoga Teachers Training Institute and has trained over 250 yoga teachers in Long Island and New York. Mokshapriya has a Ph.D.in Education by researching and writing a “Comprehensive Eclectic Yoga Program: A Strategy for Self-Improvement” Curriculum for College. She is very direct, but approachable. You may contact her at info@teachyoga.org or www.teachyoga.org.
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Yogic Breathing Techniques

Yogic Breathing For Breast CancerYogic Breathing Techniques For Breast Cancer

By: Ma Mokshapriya – Ordained Minister and certified Yoga instructor.

In the previous blogs we introduced you to the word praana. Praana is vital life force energy. Without this force, nothing would exist on this planet. So all living things have praana. It is the essence of life. It is Universal Life Force.

The connection to our Mother/Father God and our I Am Presence is through a column of Light which is connected to our crown chakra and then moves down to our physical body through the various nerve plexuses or chakras; and then is distributed throughout the body by the nadis or meridians.  This connection is our direct link to the source. This connections is always present, but not necessarily flowing optimally. Yoga focuses on improving this connection. In yoga the hypothesis is that all diseases are ultimately caused by improper distribution of praana in the physical body.

At this time we will concentrate on increasing praana through breathing exercises. It is a simple way to start. Later we will introduce the other methods. The three main nadis are ida, pingala and sushumna. Ida is the left nostril and has a negative charge, pingala is the right nostril with positive charge. They cross over at the six chakras or nerve plexuses.

Our breath switches from one side of the nose to the other approximately every 90 minutes. When balanced the flow of breath goes through the sushumna nadi and both nostrils flow equally. That equal breath means that the praana is flowing optimally. Alternate nostril breathing is very important in yoga. We will start with a simple breathing exercise.

Please sit up straight and take the right hand and fold the index and middle finger. With the thumb close the right nostril and inhale through the left. Then take the ring finger and close the left and open the thumb and exhale through the right. Keeping the right open, inhale, close the right and exhale through the left. Keep the left open and inhale. Open the right and exhale. Continue for at least 2 to 3 minutes. You are taking the breath in like a U-turn. Whatever nostril you exhaled out of, you inhale into. Try to make the breath long and subtle. The arm may get tired. If you are sitting at a table, you can prop up the elbow.

It is called happy breathing because there is no breath retention and it balances the flow of praana. This is one of the few exercises that can be done by all, no matter age or physical condition. What the mind is doing during the exercise also affects its efficacy. Ideally one is to repeat a mantra mentally while breathing. Or repeat OM for the length of the breath as you inhale and OM for the length of the breath as you exhale. This will keep the mind in an alpha state and relaxes the body. To be effective daily practice is necessary. As the stamina increases we wish to increase the duration of practice to 10-15 minutes.  Always start slow and steady.
Yoga states we must practice for a long time, unbroken, with love and respect until the result is achieved. So if one practices every day unbroken for only 3 minutes it is more effective than a sporadic ten minute practice.  If possible try to do it twice a day.
At the same time deep rhythmical breathing should continue.

There are three methods of breathing: diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, thoracic or chest breathing and clavicular breathing.  The combination of all three is known as yogic breath.  The diaphragm, which separates the lungs from the abdomen, when functioning properly is the most efficient way of breathing.  When we watch a baby breathe, we see the abdomen rising and falling. So it is our natural way.

The easiest way to learn diaphragmatic breathing is to lie down in shavasan or relaxation pose and place the fingertips gently just below the center of the ribcage. As you breathe in the diaphragm moves up, as you breathe out it moves down. It is important to be relaxed and not force the movement. Once mastered then we concentrate on also expanding the chest not only up and out but also to the sides as we inhale. Again it needs to be a natural movement without any strain. Lastly we must bring the breath all the way to the clavicle which raises the sternum.

All three movements constitute yogic breathing.  It takes time and practice and can not be achieved quickly. Later they all move in unison. It must be relaxed and natural. This week focus on t rhythmical breathing, and happy breathing.

Next blog we will introduce a breath to expand our lung capacity.

With love and respect,
Ma Mokshapriya

MokshaPriya Breast Cancer Authority Blog ContributorMokshapriya is ordained as Swami Ma Mokshapriya Shakti Saraswati and has taught yoga, meditation and philosophy for over 40 years. She currently teaches and gives guidance in Queens NY at the Yogashakti Yoga Center. She is the co-founder of the Yoga Teachers Training Institute and has trained over 250 yoga teachers in Long Island and New York. Mokshapriya has a Ph.D.in Education by researching and writing a “Comprehensive Eclectic Yoga Program: A Strategy for Self-Improvement” Curriculum for College. She is very direct, but approachable. You may contact her at info@teachyoga.org or www.teachyoga.org.

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