Why Yoga Practice Can Improve the Outcome of a Cancer Diagnosis

In these final moments of October, you’re likely getting pink fatigue. Between the pink yogurts and candy-colored ribbons, soup cans, and beauty products—it’s easy to lose sight of why Breast Cancer Awareness Month came about in the first place.

While it can feel a bit commercial, Breast Cancer Awareness Month began as a raise money for the cause (a la Race for the Cure and the ubiquitous pink ribbon), as well as highlight the real risk facing an alarming number of women.

Because of this push, women have become more educated about cancer symptoms and the importance of early detection.

But, it’s also worth pointing out that yoga—in addition to its myriad general benefits— can aid in the prevention of breast cancer, as well as the outcome of recovery in patients.

Here is just a handful of the breast health benefits yoga can provide:

Prevention

Now, we’re not going to claim that doing yoga or any other type of exercise for that matter is going to keep breast cancer from developing. If that were the case, everyone would be on the mat, no question.

But, yoga has been shown to boost both the immune and endocrine systems, as well as stimulate lymph flow—all of which may lower the risk of developing the disease. While yoga has long been linked to all kinds of health benefits, from flexibility and mobility to improved mental health—your practice may regulate hormones and care for your glands and lymph nodes. All critical for keeping the breasts—and the rest of the body in tip-top shape.

Easing Symptoms

Now, the benefits of yoga extend well beyond breast cancer prevention. A recent study by the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics found that cancer patients who took yoga classes throughout the course of treatment experienced less fatigue on average than those who did not practice yoga.

And then there’s this study, which has shown yoga therapy can help ease a wide range of symptoms—from nausea and vomiting, to the physiological stressors associated with going through diagnosis, treatment, and life after cancer.

Sleep

For those living with cancer—or even those who have been declared healthy after battling the disease—sleep may not come so easy. This basic human function is restorative. It's the only time our bodies produce human growth hormone (HGH)—which helps cells reproduce and repair themselves. Sleep also boosts our moods, and rid our bodies of toxins--all things that improve the outcome of treatment. Yet, many cancer patients report sleep disturbances and insomnia.

Yoga has a meditative effect on the body—and as a result, can improve sleep quality, efficiency, and sleep/wake cycles.

Yoga Enhances Emotional Wellbeing

Saying that cancer turns your life upside down is a total understatement. Breast cancer can do a number on the way you view your body, as well as trigger feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

On an emotional level, yoga can help breast cancer patients and survivors reconnect with their body. Chemotherapy or the loss of one or both breasts can leave patients feeling out of control, sluggish, or depressed.

Deepening your yoga practice, whether through a yoga retreat or attending class twice a week, can help you better cope with trauma and stress from treatment and diagnosis.

Maybe we’re a little biased, but it’s clear that yoga can have a profound impact on physical and mental health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, keeps you in shape, and reduces stress—what’s not to love?

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re giving away a free yoga retreat—aka the chance to practice in China—to someone affected by breast cancer.

Enter yourself—or a loved one that deserves a break after a tough journey—by October 31.

Enter & Subsciribe for your chance to win.

Yan Jiang