by Dr. Sanjay Vin (Vinjamaram)
In the fight against breast cancer, as with any battle, the most important thing is to keep a cool and relaxed head to better fight the enemy.
It’s no secret that regular exercise aids in the calming process- using our
bodies helps us to think better and remain more at ease. However, the fatigue brought on by disease or therapy can leave us without the energy to go hiking, or to do intense cardio. This is where yoga comes in.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2007 found that among an ethnically and medically diverse group of patients, yoga practice was associated with increased emotional well being and quality of life.
More recently, a study published in the same journal in March 2014, found that in a randomized group of female patients from stages 0-III undergoing radiotherapy, yoga boosted quality of life as opposed to simple stretching and a control group. These results can also be expected to last long-term.
Finally, Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, authored a post-cancer treatment study published in January of this year showing that yoga raised vitality in cancer survivors, and over time diminished both fatigue and some types of proinflammatory cytokines.
If you decide to try supplementing your regimen with yoga, be sure to ask your instructors if they have any experience with breast cancer patients, and don’t be afraid to let them know if any poses are difficult for you. An experienced practitioner will be able to provide you with safer alternatives until you’re ready to take on the master poses yourself.
Regardless of your spiritual leanings, the act of really connecting with the movements of your body and your breath is going to put your mind more at ease, and in turn allow your body to do its best work at confronting the disease and keeping yourself better off mentally during and after treatment.
While I must caution that these practices cannot replace medical care, I advise yoga to my patients at Austin Cancer Centers as a low impact supplementary activity to boost wellbeing during your personal fight.