By Lisa Brabender
There are a few among us whose lives haven’t been touched by the affliction of Cancer. Whether it’s a spouse, relative, friend or neighbor virtually everyone’s network circle includes someone who is suffering or has suffered from this pervasive disease.
Recent studies of cancer survivors, especially women who have had breast cancer, suggest yoga may help improve several aspects of quality of life. According to a report from the National Institutes of Health, there is evidence to suggest yoga may be helpful when used alongside conventional medical treatment to help relieve some of the symptoms linked to cancer, asthma, diabetes, drug addiction, high blood pressure, heart disease and migraine headaches.
A typical yoga session can last between 20 minutes and an hour. It starts with slow, gentle movements accompanied by slow, deep breaths from the abdomen. A session may also include guided relaxation, meditation, and sometimes visualization. All activities are typically performed in a seated or reclining position, with props for support as appropriate. Most people need several sessions a week to improve and to see lasting health effects, but many people report feeling better after just one session. No special clothing is required –Just wear something that’s comfortable and lets you move freely.
Studies in North America, Europe, and Asia have shown that women who exercise at moderate to vigorous levels for more than three hours per week have a 30%-40% lower risk of breast cancer. This reduced risk was found in women regardless of their family history of breast cancer and in women at every level of risk for breast cancer. Generally, the higher the level of activity, the more risk is reduced and while activity throughout one’s life is important, activity at any age can help lower breast cancer risk.
Also, while yoga is generally low-impact and safe for healthy people, women who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions like cancer, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and sciatica may have to modify or avoid some poses and should consult their doctor for advice.
Yoga has a low rate of side effects, and the risk of serious injury from yoga is low. However, certain types of stroke as well as pain from nerve damage are among the rare possible side effects of practicing yoga. Yoga cannot cure cancer or other chronic illnesses, however, nor should it ever be used by itself to treat any medical condition or delay treatment. It’s a good idea to learn yoga from a well-trained instructor, and always a good idea to talk to your health care professional before starting any new exercise plan.
With this wealth of data indicating clear benefits of our yoga practice, we can better appreciate how we can help ourselves by continuing and deepening our practice and also help others by encouraging them to participate in a regular practice of their own.
I invite you to join me as Lotus7 partners with Mission Hospital’s Valiant Women and The Shops at Mission Viejo “THINK PINK” Annual Breast Health Wall of Honor in raising funds for this year’s event. This incredible event encourages the community to honor breast cancer patients and survivors through a beautiful collection of tributes displayed on the Wall of Honor, located on the Lower Level of The Shops at Mission Viejo, near Nordstrom. Your sponsorship and involvement will help us honor the survivors, remember those we have lost, and remind everyone that the fight isn’t over.
I’ll be volunteering at the Wall a few times this month so I hope to see you there!
Additionally, Lotus7 will be offering a monthly series of complimentary Yoga and Cancer classes on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30-2:30 for those living with, surviving or caring for individuals with cancer. Make sure to check out our class and special event/workshop schedules!
Think Smart. Think Ahead. Think Pink!
1. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga Among a Multiethnic Sample of Breast Cancer Patients: Effects on Quality of Life” that appeared in the August 20, 2007 Journal of Clinical Oncology, Alyson B. Moadel, Chirag Shah, et.al.