October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, shining a light on a health problem that knows no boundaries of ethnicity, geography or socio-economic status. We’re talking about an equal-opportunity disease that will effect one in eight women in their lifetimes, adding up to an estimated 220,000+ women each year in the U.S.A.
The good news is, awareness is growing, as is the number of women taking proactive steps towards prevention and regular screenings. Furthermore, fatalities have been on the decline since 1990 due to greater rates of early detection and continuous improvements in treatment options.
And by the way, it isn’t just women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. So men, please read on and consider incorporating the information below.
Is this a serious issue? You’re damn right it is. Is there anything we can do about it? You’re damn right we can.
Each of us is unique, with our individual health challenges and concerns. Our genes are distinct, our risks are distinct, and our strengths are distinct. There are certain factors that cannot be changed, but there are others known as Avoidable Risk Factors where we can have an impact.
It should come as no surprise that most recommendations for prevention fall under the diet and lifestyle categories, including:
~ Reducing Alcohol Consumption
~ Eating a healthy diet – specifically, higher in fruits and vegetables and lower in saturated fat
~ Scheduling regular screenings and regular mammograms once you hit 40
So where does Yoga Fit in? A regular yoga practice can play a significant role in both Breast Cancer Prevention and Healing & Recovery
Yoga For Prevention & Health
~ Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle have been shown to increase risk of developing breast cancer.
~ Being overweight or obese can increase your risk as well
~ A regular yoga practice contributes to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
~ An active Yoga practice typically includes both strength building and also cardiovascular exercise, both of which boost immune function and have been shown to balance levels of estrogen and insulin.
Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors & Recovery
~ Restorative yoga has been shown to support the healing process by diminishing levels of cortisol in the body and facilitating the “rest and regenerate” actions of the body
~ Active or Vinyasa Yoga has been shown to enhance the flow of the lymphatic system, which not only flushes toxins away from healthy cells, but also helps deliver disease-fighting cells to areas of the body that are under attack
~ Perhaps most importantly, new studies are now showing a dramatic influence on quality of life for patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. There is often a significant psychological and/or physiological impact from these processes, and yoga has been shown to balance energy, support healthy sleep habits, alleviate anxiety and depression and boost overall mood.
If you’d like to Go Deep on the subject, we recommend the book Yoga for Breast Care: What Every Woman Needs to Know by Bobby Clennell.
The book is information rich and highly practical, covering information on the many conditions women can encounter as well as yoga postures and breathing practices with specific healing applications. Plus, information on women’s health, menstruation, pregnancy, nursing and broader lifestyle recommendations.