Did you know that yoga for cancer patients has been associated with lower rates of inflammation, reduced pain and improved sense of acceptance and appetite? Yuppers. I really looked forward to my yoga sessions during treatment, and to this day, continue to work on my “downward dog” and other poses.
For breast cancer patients, a yoga practice will vary based on stage and treatment-and it’s important to talk to your doctor before beginning a practice. For example, extensive stretching is not recommended in the immediate post-operative stage for patients who have undergone a mastectomy, but is recommended after all the operative healing is complete. Meanwhile, the chest region is a very emotionally charged area for breast cancer patients because it’s about making friends with your body again. It’s about truly reconnecting with your heart space.
According to my doctor, women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy who practiced yoga, incorporating controlled breathing, mediation and relaxation techniques, experienced improved ability to engage in daily activities, better general health and better regulation of cortisol, a steroid hormone that responds to stress.
To find an instructor who is right for you, do your research. Look for teachers who have been certified in instructing cancer patients and survivors. Ask questions about a teacher’s training and experience, including whether he or she has worked with someone with breast cancer.