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Yin Yoga Following Breast Cancer Treatment

 
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lamonde



Joined: 24 Dec 2011
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 4:32 am    Post subject: Yin Yoga Following Breast Cancer Treatment Reply with quote

I'm wondering if there are specific poses that would help with muscle pain around the arm/shoulder area and nerve pain following a lumpectomy and axial (armpit) lymph node removal? I have tightness/soreness in the shoulder blade area and also my pectoral muscle on the left side.
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1027
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:54 am    Post subject: Yin Yoga and Partial Mastectomy Reply with quote

Yoga in general can be a special gift for anyone recovering from serious illnesses such as a partial mastectomy (what you call a "lumpectomy.") I suspect that what you need now is not Yin Yoga, but rather restorative yoga. Yin Yoga generally targets the connective tissues of the lower body: it is not restorative yoga but restorative yoga often incorporates aspects of Yin Yoga. But there may be some Yin Yoga postures that can help you a bit.

First, let's look at yoga in general and your specific situation. Yoga helps to mobilize our inner resources. If you like the poetic images of the East, yoga will stimulate the Chi (or Prana) to flow more freely, which in turn nourishes and heals all tissues of the body. The way we work with our breath in yoga also helps to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes healing and turns off the stress systems of the body, which are so easily activated through fear when we are sick. (For more on the breath and the PNS read the Yin-side of Breathing posted in my Newsletter #5.) Physiologically, we also want to gently stimulate the tissues harmed during your surgery and gentle movements can assist with that.

Before giving you specific suggestions, I would suggest you create an advisory team consisting of your doctor, your surgeon and a caring yoga therapist: let them each know about the other's thoughts and then ask what their recommendations are. You are the head of the team though: once you have listened to everyone, then make your decision as to how much and how deeply you want to practice.

If you want to incorporate some specific Yin Yoga postures for the upper body, and if your yoga therapist agrees that these are okay for you, check out the article on Upper Body Yin in Newsletter #6. For more yang yoga suggestions, check out this post on Yoga Journal.

Over time, keep checking back in with your advisory team and update your program. Work with attention and intention. Probably more important than the physical work will be your breath work and the practice of being present, which is your meditation. Meditating on health will work wonders for you.

I hope this helps. Let us know how it goes: others may learn a great deal from your journey.

Cheers
Bernie
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lamonde



Joined: 24 Dec 2011
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:07 am    Post subject: Thank You! Reply with quote

Bernie,

Thank you so much for the suggestions. I have practiced yoga for many years, and I agree wholeheartedly that the breathing and meditation are essential elements in the healing process. I think that yoga enabled me to keep working through 7 rounds of chemotherapy. I even did yoga in the hospital when I was admitted for an infection (pre-surgery!)

I will discuss this with my yoga therapist and have her help me with the upper body Yin poses.

Best wishes and many thanks,
Laura
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1027
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:24 am    Post subject: A couple more upper body poses Reply with quote

Another pose that may help you is Anahatasana, which can open the upper chest nicely. Also Frog may get into some of those tissues too. Discuss these with your teacher too. Good luck with it!

Cheers
Bernie
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Lorien



Joined: 05 Mar 2008
Posts: 28
Location: San Jose, CA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a teacher of both yin and cancer survivors, I have to put my .02 in here. I have found that the longer holds that are necessary for a yin practice are wonderful for the cancer survivor's mind, but not always best for the body, especially when there is a risk of lymphedema. I am a big advocate for stretching, moving and then pausing to reflect on how it feels. For example, snail might get into that shoulderblade area nicely, but I wouldn't hold you in it for very long. The arms for Eagle pose would also be helpful, but for a shorter hold, too. When I teach yin to my cancer survivors, I keep the holds under or around 2 minutes each, inviting them to come out and observe before moving on. I love the idea that Bernie presents of creating a team of advisors, with you as the final say. I would also be interested in hearing how this works for you.

Be well,
Lorien
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1027
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:12 am    Post subject: Yin Yoga after Masectomy Reply with quote

I recently received a question about this topic which I will post here and then comment upon after. The question was:

I thank you for your work. I am a 69 year old woman facing a right breast masectomy next week. For recovery, for lymphatic system, for physical therapy I thought to do yin and restorative yogas. Gently, slowly, no strain on right shoulder. Don't see any articles or posts on zin Yoga after Masectomy. Any recommendations? I would appreciate your thoughts.

Namaste,
D


Hi D - as you will read in the posts above, yoga can indeed help you in your recovery in many ways. Read the posts and notice especially Lorien's helpful advice about not holding the poses for too long at first. She warns about lymphedema, which can occur months or even years after breast surgery if several lymph nodes were removed. Lymphedema is the condition of swelling in the tissues due to a build up or excess of lymph fluid: to help avoid this condition, you would be advised to avoid stresses of the upper body where you bear a lot of weight, such as down dog.

Fortunately, in Yin Yoga, we don't do poses like Down Dog but as Lorien points out, even Snail pose could be problematic. Stick to the easier poses, gentle twists and hip/leg work to help stimulate the flow of Chi. But, above all, find a yoga therapist who can guide you. Work with both attention and intention and listen to your body.

Good luck with your surgery.
Bernie
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