Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors

Written by Dr. Minakshi Welukar.

Breast cancer is a major health concern for women. Though effective therapies are available, many women find difficulty to cope with disease and treatment-related consequences. As yoga proves its beneficial impact in other health-related diseases, same holds true for breast cancer as well. Yes...yoga is a good complementary therapy to improve the quality of life in breast cancer patients.

tree pose

According to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and leading cause of cancer-related death in women of all races. The risk of breast cancer incidence increases with age.

Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy are advance life saving treatment options for breast cancer. All add days to the life of survivor, but also full of side-effects and subsequently poor physical and mental well-being. Body, mind and spirit integration, a basic principal of yoga is the scientifically proven answer to many of them.

Beneficial in Managing Cancer and Treatment Related Symptoms

Breast cancer women receiving any kind of treatment may present with symptoms like psychological distress, poor sleep, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain and breathlessness. All of them limit the physical activity and hamper the daily life of sufferers.

According to study published in International Journal of Yoga, yoga intervention for 60 minutes daily has a positive impact in reducing the severity of cancer-related symptoms. Yoga intervention consists of set of Asanas, breathing exercises, Pranayama, meditation and yogic relaxation technique with imaginary means cyclic meditation associated with mind-sound resonance.

Improvement in Quality of Life after Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy significantly improved survival rate among breast cancer sufferer. However, post-therapy patient may exhibits depressed mood, poor balancing, and less flexibility.

Practicing Iyengar yoga program twice a week for 12 weeks by chemotherapy received women shows improve balance and flexibility and overall quality of life as per case-control study result reported on Explore, The Journal of science and Healing.

Relieve Fatigue

After receiving treatment, cancer-related fatigue can rise up to 33% in breast cancer survivors. There is no definitive treatment modality to deal with fatigue.

Practicing Iyengar yoga not only relieves fatigue but boosts energy level of a body. Yoga also minimizes the depressive symptoms to the great extent as mentioned in Journal Cancer by American Cancer Society.

Enhance Self-Esteem

Cancer patients have poor self-esteem due to physical limitations, dependency on others, financial insecurities and fear of death.

According to the study published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, relaxation therapy as described in The System 'Yoga in Daily Life' help to improve self-esteem in breast cancer patients.

The System 'Yoga in Daily Life' founded by Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, is a holistic approach to cope with the demands of our modern times. Under this system, relaxation is practiced for 2-5 minutes in supine position with concentration on whole body and breath.

Better Body Image

Post-surgery patient notice changes in own body image either due to removal of breast part or due to implantation of new one. Quite often surgery leads to limitation in upper-body movements. This leads to self-consciousness and physical limitations.

Performing Hatha yoga in such cases changes body image and improves physical fitness. Patient also notice to improved body strength and flexibility reported on Pubmed.

Yoga takes only a few minutes a day, but adds quality days in life of breast cancer survivors.

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