As a recovering work-obsessed multi-tasker, I spent most days analyzing work and life situations while also writing emails, listening to conference calls in the car driving, or reading industry information during exercise sessions. The idea of “doing it all” energized me. But truthfully, I was always exhausted and stressed. I took yoga a few times to “de-stress,” but found limiting my thoughts to be impossible. In addition, I felt foolish because I thought everyone around me was “better at stretching.” So I gave up before I really even began. Despite my lackluster first experiences with it, I ran to yoga after my second breast cancer diagnosis and haven’t turned back since.
This time I gave it an honest chance, perhaps because I needed to ease my mind. I stopped looking around at others and listened to the teacher. I worked on breathing slowly through my nose. I practiced each pose and often fell, but this time didn’t bash myself; I just continued. If my mind started to wander, I thought about how my sweat would rid the cancerous toxins from my body. Yoga became my retreat.
While it may sound silly, I love that moment early in the morning when I first lay down on the mat with my eyes closed in the warm studio. Momentarily, I feel like I’ve been swept away to a beautiful tropic. Even years after starting, the cancer treatment makes my body stiff, so my practice is far from perfect. But, I’m ok with it. No one is watching, they are focusing on themselves, not me. Yoga is the first place where I saw athletes competing only with themselves, not others.
Athlete or not, after an hour to 90-minutes of hot yoga, I feel strong. The calmness and void of brain racing has helped me be more mindful of my daily activities, which is actually refreshing from the rat-race lifestyle I once adored. Now with a few years under my belt, my skin is noticeably smoother. Perhaps I’ve lost a few pounds, as well. While I look like a drenched rat walking out of the studio, post-shower I have a beautiful glow.
Equally as important as looking and feeling good, the media has been covering the value of yoga for breast cancer recovery:
1. MD Anderson Study – Practicing yoga three times a week for several weeks improved pain, fatigue and mood in breast cancer patients. Most notably, it also has been shown to regulate the stress hormone cortisol associated with breast cancer growth. ABC News – How Yoga Can Help Women with Breast Cancer
2. Ohio State University Study – Practicing yoga two times a week for several weeks can help lower inflammation and fatigue. Medical News Today – Breast Cancer Survivors Benefit from Yoga
I’m hooked. Life gets busy and I don’t always have (or should I say make) the time to practice several times a week. I still go back regularly, though. Even when I can’t make a class, I use the breathing lessons learned to ease myself in a stressful situation.
What are your experiences with yoga? What tools do you use to find a little zen in your day?
This site chronicles my experiences including research, interviews, meetings, seminars and observations made knowing I have cancer. I am not a medical expert or health care professional. The lifestyle changes and decisions I have made are personal decisions analyzed often with family, friends as well as my own medical and natural team.
This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a commission with no costs to you. I pro-actively try various products and then affiliate myself with these items that I already use and love.