How can yoga help women with breast cancer?
Exercise is recommended to prevent cancer in general and prevent it from progressing. Yoga is a good activity for breast cancer, and especially the 4 exercises that we detail here.
Physical activity reduces the risk of cancer but it also lowers the level of certain hormones (insulin and estrogen in particular) that are associated with the development of breast cancer. Exercising can help to potentiate treatments or prevent recurrence. Yoga is a particularly recommended activity because it is gentle on the body while being effective against fatigue, sleep and quality of life in general according to many studies.
If it can be practiced before, during and after radiotherapy, chemotherapy or hormone therapy, however, it is good to seek the advice of your doctor before embarking on a new exercise routine, especially after surgery. .
Here are 4 exercises particularly adapted in case of breast cancer, or to prevent a recurrence.
Exercise 1: cat-cow posture
This movement strengthens the lower back and increases the mobility of the spine as well as the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. It represents a good way to find a good mobility of the torso, the neck, and evacuate the tensions that do not fail to accumulate there.
A yoga mat is the only equipment needed, but exercise can be done directly on the floor.
Attention, for this posture, attach to the description of the movement not to the photos, which are close to this posture but without corresponding completely, and which can be misleading. They are more indicative than anything else.
Starting position : on all fours, straight back, feet relaxed, shoulders squared wrists, hips above the knees.
- While inhaling deeply, curl the toes, release the belly and look upwards: this is the posture of the cow. Keep your shoulders low (do not go back to the ears).
- While exhaling, press your hands on the ground, release the toes, round the vertebral column, lower your head and direct your gaze towards the navel which is sucked towards the column. This is the cat’s posture.
- Repeat this movement by inhaling and exhaling 10 times.
Exercise 2: Lateral inclination in sitting position
This exercise will do wonders for your torso. Not only does it gently stretch the abdominal muscles by improving the flexibility of the spine, but it also stretches the intercostal muscles. The lengthening of these muscles contributes to a better posture, to remove the tensions on the neck and the shoulder and increases the amplitude of the movements in the ribs.
Starting position : Sitting, legs crossed in the middle of the yoga mat, hands on each side of the body, open outward, back straight, head held by a wire from the ceiling (this amounts to ” autograndir “).
Movement : Raise your right arm to the sky, keeping you always straight. While inhaling, feel your lungs fill with air and your spine lengthen. Then, while exhaling, bend the torso and the right arm gently to the left, always trying to “autograndir”. Go as far as you can on the left, with the left arm lying on the mat, depending on the flexibility of your torso. Keep your chest open and the position for three deep, deep breaths. Return to the starting position and change sides.
Do the exercise three times on each side.
Exercise 3: fish posture
This posture can open the chest, stretch the entire dorsal region, improve blood circulation including the head and breathing, stimulate the thyroid gland and lymphatic drainage in the breasts and reduce the scar tissue. It is also beneficial for mood and psychic health.
Caution: do not practice during digestion, during menstruation or in case of migraine or lumbar or cervical fragility.
Starting position: Lie on a yoga mat or thin mattress, flat on back, legs joined, arms resting on either side of the body, hands flat on the ground or placed so that they are under the body for better support (often recommended for beginners).
- Inflate the chest to open the rib cage, bring the shoulder blades and elbows together, inhale by lifting the trunk and the head: the elbows and forearms should serve as support for the body so as not to hurt your back, exhale bringing the top of the skull into contact with the yoga mat and leave the chest open.
- Once at the end of the movement, two choices: we maintain the position between 30 seconds and 10 minutes while remaining well aware of what is happening (it is not time for a nap!), Legs joined and Breathing deeply or one starts in reverse, taking care to proceed slowly as to go, without rushing anything and breathing well. In the second case, repeat the exercise between 2 and 5 times.
Exercise 4: Deep abdominal breathing
Even if it’s just breathing, deep abdominal breathing makes it easier to use your diaphragm. By strengthening the diaphragm, you will allow the lungs to work more easily. It is also a powerful relaxation exercise.
Note: If you are in full radiotherapy, know that studies show that performing this exercise during treatment helps protect the heart and lungs from radiation.
Starting Position : Lying on your back, on a yoga mat or a small mattress, head on a small cushion if you wish, knees bent.
Movement : Place your hands on your belly and inhale gently and deeply as you feel the belly swell gradually until the lungs are full. Count the time you need to inspire deeply. Then exhale gently, evenly, taking the same time as for inspiration (or even more).
Repeat this breath 4 or 5 times, 5 to 6 times daily if possible.