A holistic approach to fighting breast cancer has been shown to help with the pain and stress that accompanies conventional medicinal treatment for breast cancer. For example, hot flashes due to chemotherapy have been shown to improve with the practice of de-stressing techniques like mediation and deep breathing. The entire practice of holistic medicine encompasses not only the physical elements of a person, but the mental, emotional and spiritual elements as well. Yoga is a great way to practice the holistic approach to fighting breast cancer, as it de-stresses the body by lowering blood pressure and it can lessen chronic pain. Yoga puts you in a state of calm relaxation, which will ultimately help with coping skills and maintaining a positive outlook on life.
Yoga typically begins and ends with the corpse pose, also known as the Savasana. This is a total pose of relaxation, which is meant to allow the body time to process information at the end of a yoga session. Another classic yoga pose is the bridge, which helps strengthen the spine and improves flexibility by promoting circulation and stretching the muscle tissue around the breasts. The warrior is another great move to try, as it helps expand your range of motion and support the lymphatic system. An additional move is the cobra, which engages your abdominals and creates an even bend along your spine to help stretching of the muscle tissue around the breasts and your back. Breathing techniques are an extremely important part of practicing yoga. Pranayama (the formal practice of controlling breath) helps with mind and body control – there are multiple different techniques to practice pranayama, but typically these techniques are centered around focusing on filling your entire lungs with air.
But don’t just read about the poses – take a class or practice yoga in your home! A yoga session can last from 20 minutes to an hour. If you take a class and find some of the poses to be difficult, the instructor will be able to show you modified poses to do. If you are ill or recovering from surgery, you can try “restorative” yoga, which requires less physical activity and focuses more on breathing while being propped against blankets or pillows to eliminate unnecessary straining.