Yoga is a practice that has been around for thousands of years, originating in India as the complementary practice to Ayurveda, an Eastern practice of medical care that encompasses mind, body, and spirit.
Yoga involves the practice of meditation, deep breathing, and a series of physical postures. Now that yoga has become wildly popular here in the west, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of its healing capabilities, something ancient yogis have known all along. More physicians are incorporating complementary healing modalities into patient care, as research continues to show that there is more to healing than medication.
For patients undergoing cancer treatments including chemo, yoga can be a welcome distraction with tons of benefits. The benefits of yoga are vast and include improved sleeping, boosting immunity, improved recovery, and stress reduction, without the use of medications. Being diagnosed and going through treatments for breast cancer can be daunting; yoga systematically calms the central nervous system, allowing for relief of stress. Recovering from a mastectomy or reconstruction can be difficult; gentle yoga can help in regaining physical function.
Yoga has also been proven to help with insomnia. Healing occurs while we sleep, so sleep is essential. Yoga also teaches us to be present in the moment and focus on one thing at a time. It enables us to escape our thoughts. It is recommended that you practice yoga with an experienced instructor who is knowledgeable about breast cancer and that your physician has advised it is safe for you.
For more information on yoga for cancer, yoga teacher Tari Prinster has written a wonderful book called Yoga for Cancer, which you can find on Amazon.
Victoria Fitzgerald, E-RYT, RN, is a yoga instructor based in upstate New York.