Sil I couldn't agree with you more. I have been practising yoga for about 8 years now. In May I had a lumpectomy and was back doing gentle yoga 2 weeks later. I had a full node clearance 2 weeks ago and my BCN said it is ok to return to yoga as soom as I want to, just listen to my body, which of course is good practise in yoga anyway. I can't emphasise enough the benefits of yoga for mobility, relaxation and for developing a positive well being. Recommend it to everyone.
I had been practicing Yoga for about 8 years before my diagnosis in March and my usual practice was Astanga based which is quite an energetic and gymnastic type of Yoga.
The term "Astanga" was first used by Patanjali, a sage who wrote the "yoga sutras" over two thousand years ago. Astanga means "eight limbs" the first of which is "Yama" which means self-restraint. There are 5 yamas and they include "ahimsa" or nonviolence. This is nonviolence towards others but also nonviolence to ourselves. This is what they mean by listening to your body and not attempting anything in your practice that you are not happy or comfortable with. There should definitely be no pain in any of your postures.
There are many different ways to practice yoga. I recommenced my yoga practice 2 weeks after surgery. The first part of my practice was just kneeling on my mat doing all the exercises the physio gave me after my mastectomy, paying extra attention to my breathing. I then carried on with some "Yin Yoga" style postures which are held for a few minutes. I only did seated postures and nothing that involved any weight through my arms.
I am now attending two "gentle" yoga classes a week and am loving it, even though it is a much slower style of yoga than I did originally. I limit how much weight I take through my left arm where I had lymph nodes removed and will drop back to child’s pose if I feel I have had enough. I am hoping to gradually build up my strength in that arm. Luckily a one-handed handstand was only a dream before surgery so I can live without attaining that!!!
Remember yoga is not just about the postures, since my diagnosis I have done much more learning about meditation and breathing, I have also got a CD on chanting and I love listening to it when I can't sleep at night - it is very soothing.
Good luck with your yoga and if one class or type of yoga isn't for you hopefully another one will be. There are many many yoga postures that don't involve taking weight through your arms, you just need to find a good teacher who can adapt poses or offer you alternatives.
Hmmm - seem to written a bit more than I intended!!
Thanks for the advice,
I will chase it up now as I really do think it will help with my lifestyle, becoming more aware of my body etc. I do think my BCN (although she is lovely) is too frightened to recommend anything remotely risky but as you say if I don't push it and listen to my body it should be fine.
I have also sent for the Haven DVD so will have a go at that too.
Take care all,
Hi I have ordered the DVD/CD package from breast cancer haven,I'm a bit nervous about going to a class on my own so thought I would try it at home first.I have mild lympodoema and was told it would be fine to do as long as I have my sleeve on and know when to stop i.e if my arm aches.
I took up yoga 5 years ago just after finishing treatment. Like you, I liked it straight away, and have grown more and more enthusiastic over the years. I now do a class about 2-3 times a week.
I have progressed very slowly taking very small steps at a time, but am now at an 'intermediate' level and can do some poses I would never have expected when I began, such as headstands. I now do lots of arm strengthening poses, but I worked up to them very gradually.
My doctors and nurses have never had a problem with it, and I had full node clearance. Their main concern for lymphodoema is wrenches or trauma, and as yoga is non-competitive and there is no pressure to do things you are uncertain of, this is not going to happen.
I think the worst thing after breast cancer is to become less mobile, in fact I was told to keep exercising my arm to encourage lymphatic flow and drainage.
I agree about the spiritual breathing side as well. It contributed hugely to my healing process as it felt like a new beginning.
I only had 3 nodes out, so not too bad. Also you have to find a class that is quite spiritual and about breathing and relaxation, along with the stretches that most people associate with yoga. The class I go to has quite a few older people and my teacher asked all about the op, also there is no pressure at all through the class to push yourself into something that you shouldn't do. A friend recommended my teacher, so you may have to look around. My teacher wanted me to go three times before I committed to the term
Some classes are just about being really 'stretchy' and here is a lot of strength work with the arms Iyengar (not spelt correctly) is like that.
I love the yoga and now do it every day at home. It is very relaxing yet energising and I believe my bc was tied up with stress so the yoga is now part of my life. The benefits have to far, far outweigh the small risk to the arm.
I had asked my BCN about doing yoga but she said that it was a no-no because of the risk of lymphadeoma on my left arm after removal of my lymph nodes. Do you folks go to a special class or just a mainstream one?
The yoga is going great and I am doing some everyday at home now. 30mins each morning. I got some relaxation cd's and have been sleeping much better too - although the hot flushes still wake me up and the neighbours must think I am mad listening to 'omm' chanting all the time!
I really can't recommend it enough.
Breast Cancer Haven have released a CD&DVD package which has yoga and tai chi lessons.
Joined a yoga class yesterday (finally)! and Loved it.
A very spiritual, relaxing style of yoga. Concentrating on breathing and lots of gentle stretching that is dictated by the individual's ability.
It was such a release of emotion that I actually started crying half way through the class. Will now be doing some one-to-one sessions with the teacher to try and work through it all.
I am sure there are lots of cynics out there on this kind of thing, and I was lucky to have been recommend a class by a very good friend who knew the teacher. But to anyone who may have thought about using yoga to deal with the emotional side of cancer, I can't recommend it highly enough.
And of course there is all the physical benefits of increasing flexibility, strength and immunity.