October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. There is a lot of information out there about breast cancer, early detection, self-checks, mammograms, and wellness for women diagnosed with the disease. Women fighting breast cancer know that it is a terrifying, challenging, and emotionally and physically draining journey. But, there are actions you can do to help alleviate some of the pain and discomforts that come with the diagnosis and treatment; yoga being one of them.
We’re not talking about acrobatic, hand-stand heavy yoga done in a room set to 100 degrees. When we speak of yoga for breast cancer patients, we mean yoga as it is meant to be: a practice that helps you find union with your body and mind. The physical benefits of certain yoga poses can help with the aches and pains that come with most breast cancer treatments. The mental benefits of the overall practice can help you find inner peace during an incredibly difficult and chaotic time, which is one of the biggest gifts of this practice.
If you are a current breast cancer patient, or know someone that is, consult with your doctor to see if yoga might be beneficial for you. As with all yoga practice, yoga for breast cancer patients should be done carefully and with honor for the body’s limitations.
Yoga Poses To Help Relieve The Pain of Breast Cancer Patients
- Bridge Pose
This pose helps build strength in the thighs and back, and because it is a small heart opener, it also very gently stretches the muscle tissue around the breasts. If it’s too much, try it with a block on the lowest level underneath your sacrum. You can hold for five breaths and repeat. Be sure there is no pain in your low back as you do the pose.
- Cat/Cow Pose
These two poses are great for your back and chest. You can make the moves as big or as small as you’d like, and syncing the movement with the breath also helps calm the nervous system and slow everything down. The chest muscles will slowly start to stretch out as you get deeper into the cow poses, and the back muscles will feel a nice, big stretch every cat pose.
- Legs Up the Wall/Chair Pose
This is one of the most relaxing poses in yoga. Lay on your back next to a wall or chair and let the legs relax up the wall for at least 3 minutes. You can make it cozier by putting a pillow under your head or under your back. You can let your eyes close, or use an eye pillow for extra relaxation. This pose invokes a sense of peace and relaxation in the body and mind.
- Neck Stretches
Stretch your head gently to the left and right. You can intensify the stretch by placing your hand on your head and applying very gentle pressure. This helps release tight muscles and also increase range of motion in the head and neck, which tends to get tight and hold a lot of pressure.
If you know someone going through treatment or recovering, send them this list of yoga for breast cancer patients. These simple poses can make a huge difference in the mental and physical well being of patients and survivors.