16 Apr Yoga and Breast Cancer
A breast cancer diagnosis is never easy to deal with, regardless of what stage the patient is in and the fact that recovery rates are encouraging. However, a positive outlook on life and managing the disease are vital when it comes to dealing with breast cancer. This is where yoga comes in, as research has shown that yoga may be able to help breast cancer patients improve physical functioning, reduce fatigue, stress and the side effects of medications and treatment and improve the overall quality of life – all important factors on the way to recovery.
While breast cancer patients can do gentle asanas throughout their treatment and recovery, regardless of how strong the interventions may be, Pranayama should be practiced daily for someone diagnosed with breast cancer. Fear is usually the first reaction to cancer and regular breathing exercises like Yogendra Pranayam No. 4, Anulom Velom and Yogendra Pranayam No. 1 can keep it in check. Techniques like Anitya Bhavana, writing down ten positive points daily and reflection can greatly improve how a patient deals with the disease – from diagnosis and treatment to recovery.
Asanas will also be important as they will not only increase a breast cancer patient’s physical strength and resilience and combat fatigue – a common side effect – but also improve their self-image and self-reliance. The postures should be gentle and should be practiced according to the patient’s ability, which will depend on his or her stage of treatment. Accordingly, patients should be encouraged to use a chair if standing asanas may be difficult. In addition, gentle forward-bending asanas are beneficial to inculcate vairagya and a sense of letting go, especially when it comes to body image and identification through the body. Overall, studies suggest a positive connection between yoga and managing breast cancer.
Asanas like Talasana, Gomukhasana, Chakrasana are essential. One should do hand and neck asanas that are vital for circulation and strengthening of the chest muscle. The patient should not become patients; they should be positive and not think of the problem. The body knows how to take care of itself, so one must let the body does its work. Always try and keep your mind in a pleasant state.