For women affected by breast cancer, yoga can help to bring calm during a very fearful and therefore stressful time in life.
In the yoga practice, the main focus is on bringing awareness back to the breath while moving the body. The link of movement with breath, is in itself a meditation and it helps to bring more awareness back into the body through simple and accessible movements. These small movements lead to more strength, more mobility leading to a sense of freedom and ease of movement while feeling more deeply grounded and rested.
The yoga practice asks for focus; on the breath, on the movements and how the body moves through space. This is mindfulness, and eventually the practice of mindfulness carries over into everyday life and simple tasks like getting groceries, taking care of your family, and being in relationship with others.
The ongoing practice of mindfulness leads to greater self-awareness and the ability to make empowered choices about what you eat, how you move, who you are in relationship with, and how you want to move forward in life.
A balanced life-style means having the energy to pursue our dreams while being able to take time to rest and let go. The yoga practice can be energizing, uplifting and strong but it can also be restful and restorative. Leaning into both sides of the yoga practice helps to learn how to build strength and softness, equally important qualities necessary in life.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF YOGA
Yoga has been known to have many different health benefits, and specifically for women affected by breast cancer it has been shown to reduce fatigue, reduce inflammation in the body while helping to lower stress and anxiety.
In addition, yoga can assist in helping to create an overall feeling of strength and resilience in the body. As part of a rehabilitation program, yoga can be used to help reduce scar tissue at the mastectomy site leading to more mobility and less chronic pain.
With a an overall greater feeling of calm, there is less stress on the body which leads to a boost in the immune system, better sleep and a better sense of well being.
TYPES OF YOGA
There are many types and styles of yoga and it can sometimes be challenging to definite into specific categories. We suggest that for any classes sought out specifically for women affected by breast cancer that the teacher is well educated and experienced in this area.
Restorative yoga, says Judith Hanson Lasater, is active relaxation. It makes use of props to create positions of ease and comfort that facilitate relaxation and health.
Restorative yoga is a delicious way to relax and soothe frayed nerves. Also described as yin yoga, restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students into passive poses so the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort. A good restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap.
Meditation is a practice where an individual operates or trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
Hatha is a general category that includes most yoga styles. It is an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.
Today, the term hatha is used in such a broad way that it is difficult to know what a particular hatha class will be like. In most cases, however, it will be relatively gentle, slow and great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer.