How does yoga help with breast cancer recovery? We all know that exercise and movement are not only good for our health, it also has a positive impact on the outcome of breast cancer treatment. Many of you may already practice yoga, and no doubt you already know about the various benefits it brings. But, if you have had treatment for breast cancer, can yoga help with recovery?
In this podcast episode, I have a conversation with Marcia Mercier. Marcia was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 30s. After her treatment, she soon realised that she just wasn’t herself. She would be short-tempered, frustrated, and just out of sorts. Not knowing really anything about Yoga, she decided to give it a try. A few decades later it is a huge part of her life. So much so that she became a certified yoga instructor and has expertise in teaching yoga for cancer.
There are many types of Yoga, and in this episode Marcia talks about the common types. It can be really useful to get familiar with the different styles of yoga, especially if you are a beginner or if you are just recovering from breast cancer treatment. If you are new to yoga or if you are just recovering from breast cancer treatment, Marcia explains the type of classes that would benefit you the most. She also talks about the kind of poses you should perhaps avoid immediately post-treatment.
Below Marcia describes the different yoga styles.
Yoga for Cancer Classes – are taught by specially trained yoga for cancer teachers who have done additional training to support those going experiencing cancer. Classes will focus on alleviating the side effects of treatment, help regain strength and range of motion, whilst soothing and calming the body and mind. Some cancer support centres and charities offer these online, as well as yoga studios https://triyoga.co.uk
*Hatha Yoga – aims to balance the two energies of the sun and moon – ‘Ha’ represents the sun (warming energy) and ‘tha’ the moon (cooling energy). Although the definition of Hatha yoga covers many different styles of yoga, a class described as ‘Hatha’ typically involves a set of physical postures and breathing techniques, practiced slowly with awareness of the breath and tends to be fairly static.
*Iyengar Yoga – emphasises precise alignment, anatomy, and sequencing in a specific order. The use of yoga props is encouraged to promote relaxation, correct alignment, and to open and strengthen the body in a safe way. Poses are held for several breaths at a time.
*Restorative Yoga – is designed to counter stress by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system which calms the body and lowers the heart rate. Restorative yoga poses are floor-based and often incorporate props to support the body, allowing it to relax and drop deeply Into a stress-free state. Poses can be held for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Ashtanga Yoga – is a dynamic, flowing style with a set sequence of poses held for five breaths and progressing over six different levels/series. It is usually practiced 6 days per week, resting for one day each week, plus moon days. It requires a lot of strength and stamina, offering a meditative flowing practice that calms the body through the synchronisation of breath, movement and drishti (gaze point).
Vinyasa Flow – is a creative, dance-like, flowing form of yoga where poses are linked together in a sequence in time with the breath – one breath with each movement. There is no standard sequence so the style, pace, and intensity can vary depending on the level of the class. It is a dynamic, practice that builds strength, stamina, and flexibility.
*Suitable styles to start at beginner level if you are new to yoga or recovering from breast cancer. Always inform the teacher of your condition before.
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Have you ever wondered how a digital app can help during and after breast cancer treatment? Check out this episode here.
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