October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Cancer of any kind is a diagnosis no one wants to hear, but luckily many people are able to win their battle against this terrible illness. If you know someone on the road to recovery, RESEARCH HAS SHOWN that yoga can be a powerful tool to help those healing from breast cancer.

Reduce Inflammation & Stress, Gain Energy

For starters, a STUDY BY OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY found that a regular yoga practice reduced inflammation by up to 20 percent, and also helped survivors reduce fatigue by 57%. An April 2012 STUDY of 200 breast cancer survivors published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that yoga practitioners reduced three types of cytokines (proteins in the blood that are markers of inflammation) compared the study control group. In addition, the more often yoga was practiced, the greater the effect on vitality.

In March 2012, another STUDY reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that the yoga group showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and also reported less fatigue and improved quality of life. In another study published in BMC CANCER in 2012, researchers found that yoga participants experienced large reductions in distress, anxiety, and depression, as well as reduced fatigue, general quality of life, emotional function, and social wellness.

A Community of Support

Support is an essential part of healing. One of the other benefits of a yoga practice is the support network of your yoga community. Knowing others are here to help on the way to healing can also help survivors manage the stress of the recovery process.

If you’re just starting out with yoga for recovery, listen to your body to see what you need. Slower practices like Scholé RESTORE are ideal for getting started, and formats like Scholé IGNITE can help you progress once ready to continue exploring yoga for healing. Of course, consult with your doctor if you are recovering from any kind of illness before starting out with yoga or any other physical activity.

Simple Sequence for Practice at Home

While practicing with a community can provide additional support, here are some simple postures to get started at home. Again, talk with your doctor to make sure you’re at the right place in your healing process to start out. Don’t worry if your mobility range is different – the most important thing in any yoga practice is paying attention to your inhale and exhale as you move through the poses. This simple focus on breath awareness can help calm our mind, body and spirit to deliver the benefits of yoga without pushing too hard. Healing takes time, and a little patience will go a long way in restoring both body and mind.

Child’s Pose

From your hands and knees, sit back towards your seat and extend your arms out in front of you. You can also place a pillow under your chest for supported Child’s Pose. Focus on your breath here and notice if that helps you feel more relaxed.

Child’s Pose Side Stretch

From Child’s Pose, reach your arms to the right. Breathe here for a few moments, then come back through center and reach to the left. Try to take the same amount of breaths on each side. You can flow through this from side to side, noticing the stretch along the sides of your body. If Child’s Pose doesn’t work for you, you can also do the same side stretches while sitting cross-legged or in a chair.

Cat/Cow

Come to your hands and knees. Inhale drop your belly and look up. Exhale, and arch your spine while tucking your chin. You can also move from side to side, swaying through your hips. Just breathe here and explore how the movements feel. If you’re recovering from an injury or surgery, pay attention to your body to only push as far as you need and no further. Any movement can be yoga if you do it with awareness, using the breath to keep you focused.


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