Yoga for Breast Cancer

Hello!

Unfortunately, Cancer has become a common, everyday word that we hear. Friends, family, coworkers – we are all affected, whether its someone close to us or someone we see on TV. The chemotherapy process is long, and it leaves those going through treatment drained of energy and unable to live their every day normal life.

After learning that a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, I began to brainstorm ways that I could help make her days a little easier while going through chemotherapy (Did you know 1 out of every 8 women will be diagnosed with Breast cancer in her lifetime?!). There isn’t much besides comforting words and actual gifts, so I decided to do some research and put together a few simple, modified yoga poses that could help increase energy, and even help manage pain.

Below are a series of poses I have researched and put together information for my friend – and for anyone else going through cancer treatment. It can be hard to summon up any energy during treatment, so for those who are used to being active, these poses are a nice way to incorporate a little workout in your life. They will also help bring relief, as well as encourage movement to fight the fatigue and pain!

**Hold each pose below for 5-10 DEEP breaths. This helps brings body awareness, increases energy circulating throughout the body, and helps with fatigue.

Child’s Pose
Benefits
: relaxes the spine, stretches muscles in back
Modify: Bring arms to side
Body Position: Sit hips back on heels and lower your chest to your thighs, and head to ground. Bring arms over your head, or keep them at your side.

Childs Pose_2 - Yoga Cancer

Childs Pose - Yoga Cancer

Hero Pose
Benefits:
 Improves posture, stretches thighs & ankles, promotes circulation, reduces swelling
Modify: Kneeling, knees together, on toes; towel or blanket between calves & hamstrings
Body Position: 3 ways to do this pose

1) Sit back on heels, then slowly lower down to butt and let feet splay out to the side

Heros Pose - Yoga Cancer

2) Sit back on heels, knees together, feet tucked under

Hero Mod2 - Yoga Cancer

3) Sit back on heels, knees together, on toes

Hero Mod - Yoga Cancer

Crescent Lunge
Benefits:
Helps manage physical pain pre – & post op; stretches/lengthens lower & upper body; opens chest
Modify: Cushions or chair under front leg (optional), back knee on floor, hands rest to sides on blocks
Body Position: Front leg bent, knee over ankle; back knee bent, resting on the floor; arms rest at side with chest raised, or hands are resting on blocks at sides for support.

Crescent Lunge - Yoga Cancer

Warrior 2
Benefits:
Encourages deep breathing; nurtures lymphatic system
Modify: Chair under front leg (I used a side table with a blanket for cushion)
Body Position: Front leg bent, knee over ankle; hips open, back leg straight, grounding foot into the ground; arch of back foot should be in line with the heel of the front foot; hands at hips, or arms up, gaze over front fingertips.

W2 - Yoga Cancer

W2_2 - Yoga Cancer

Bridge
Benefits: 
Improves Circulation, stretches muscle tissue around breasts
Modify: Towel or pillow under back
Body Position: Lay on back with pillow underneath the small of your back. Place your hands on your hips or keep them to your side.

Bridge - Yoga Cancer

Seated Twist
Benefits: 
Releases tension; wrings out toxins in organs; gentle stretch
Modify: Do not bend knees as much; do not twist as deep
Body Position: Come to a seated position, feet in front, knees slightly bent. Chest up, spine straight. Twist slightly to the side, bringing one hand to knee & other arm behind hip. Option to sit cross-legged as well. (Don’t forget to repeat on other side!)

Side Twist3 - Yoga Cancer

Side Twist2 - Yoga Cancer

Reclined Twist
Benefits: 
Helps blood flow to chest; lymphatic drainage
Modify: Lay on side, with pillow in between legs
Body Position: Lay on one side with pillow between legs – bottom leg straight, top leg bent. Place your hands on your hip, then slowly raise your arm up over head, then back to hip. Simply laying in this posture while deep breathing is also beneficial. (Don’t forget to repeat on other side!)

Side Twist 2 - Yoga Cancer

Side Twist Arm - Yoga Cancer

Side Twist_3 - Yoga Cancer

Savasana
Benefits: 
Helps release stress & muscle tension
Modify: Towel/pillow under back (not much to modify when laying on your back!)
Body Position: Lay on back with towel/pillow under the small of your back. Close your eyes and relax all muscles in your body! You can stay in this pose for longer than 5-10 breaths 😉

Savasana - Yoga Cancer

Hopefully this helps bring some relief for anyone going through cancer! There are a lot more poses that you can do, but I wanted to just give a few specifically focused on breast cancer.

For those who have had cancer or know someone who has/is going through treatment – have you heard of Yoga benefits for cancer? If yes, what have you heard? I would love to learn more!

PLEASE NOTE:

The information I have provided is not intended to be used in place of professional medical advice. This is information that I have gathered on my own through a variety of sources, and if you decide to use/apply any of the ideas from my site, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. This information is not meant to diagnose or to treat any medical condition. Please consult with your primary care physician holistic doctor to diagnose/advise of any medical condition if you have any questions. I am not liable for any damages or negative consequences resulting from any action by any persons reading or following the information on this site.

Sources:
http://breastcanceryogablog.com/
Being Her Rock
http://www.everydayhealth.com/pictures/yoga-exercises-that-help-with-breast-cancer-recovery
http://www.breastinvestigators.com/content/yoga-pose-breast-cancer-side-body-stretch-twist-%E2%80%93-extended
http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/diana-ross-uses-restorative-yoga-heal-breast-cancer-patients

Headstands: How-to Tutorial

Hello!

As most of you know, I have a serious addiction to being upside-down. Headstands, handstands, anything having to do with being on my hands! Inversions are very tricky – they require a lot of confidence and self-trust to go upside down – but once you get past this hurdle & believe in yourself, being upside down starts to get a little easier.

As I am prepping for putting on a local workshop here in Columbus as part of my Yoga Teacher Training, I have been thinking about the best way to help others understand how to get into inversions. A lot of research, practicing on friends, and personal practice has led me here! Below is a step-by-step tutorial on how to prep for a headstand – give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Step 1: Prepare by coming to your hands & knees, preferably on a thick yoga mat or carpet. I recommend coming close to a wall in front of you (maybe a few inches from your hands) and putting some couch cushions around if you are afraid of falling. Another tip: place a cushion under your head if you need a little more padding!

Step 2: Bend your arms and place the center top of your head on the ground (or pillow). Drag your feet as close to your hands as possible – you can keep your legs straight or bend them – trying to get your hips over top of your head as much as you can. If you are close to a wall, you can try to get your back/butt up against the wall.

Step 3: Begin to bring your knee cap to the underside of your arms, halfway between your elbow and armpit. Your arms are creating a shelf for your knees! All the while, think about pushing your hands away from the ground to take some pressure off of your head. You want to protect your neck as much as possible, so always think about pushing up to the sky using your hands and shoulders, like you are trying to push up into a handstand. Yes, it is hard, and yes, it requires strength. Baby steps!! You can do it!

Step 4: Start to lift 1 leg off of your knee. You can just practice this if you are too nervous to lift both – this requires some core strength, so be patient with yourself! Again, think about stacking those hips up over your head – this is mainly about alignment, so body awareness goes a long way. You do use a little ab strength here, but that will come over time!

Step 5: We have lift off! lift both knees off your arms, using your core to lift your legs up. If you are afraid of falling, this is where a spotter or the wall comes in handy! Really squeeze your ab muscles here – being in control of your core here helps with balance and control everywhere else. Your hips are like a hinge, lifting up your knees. Sometimes I like to think about pushing my butt up and back – you might fall, but again – use the wall – it is your friend!

Step 6: Continue to use your core to lift your knees up, stacking your hips over your head, and slowly begin to straighten your legs. You can keep your knees bent here and practice straightening your legs up just a little bit – finding your balance takes practice, and it is unique and different for everyone!

Has anyone tried a headstand before? If so, are there any tips I missed? What is your biggest fear/problem/hangup with trying headstands/going upside down? I would love to hear from you!

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