7 Ways Yoga Helps Women Battling Breast Cancer

yogaWe all know yoga's great for us. It's able to get us in shape physically, mentally, and spiritually in a way few other kinds of exercise really can. But it turns out it's particularly beneficial for a specific group of women: those suffering from breast cancer. A series of studies has shown that practicing yoga (a downward dog here, a child's pose there, some fancy nostril breathing) can significantly benefit the health and well-being of women who are undergoing treatment for cancer. And a new study, published just last month in the journal Cancer, shows it may also help those who are recovering after treatment.

Here are some of the benefits of yoga for women with breast cancer:

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Reduces depression: Researchers have found that women who were undergoing cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, developed a more positive outlook -- and had fewer negative thoughts -- after participating in a 10-week program of Restorative yoga classes

Reduces fatigue:
Studies have also shown that women being treated for breast cancer experience less fatigue (a frequent side-effect of treatment) and more energy after practicing yoga. The same was also found for women recovering after treatment.  

Reduces anxiety and stress: Just getting diagnosed with cancer is stressful -- let alone the stress of treating the disease. Yoga's deep breathing exercises have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

Boosts immune system: Reducing stress may not only make women feel better; it may help their immune system fight tumor growth as well.

Reduces chronic pain: One study found that women with metastatic breast cancer who practiced yoga reported that they had significantly less pain the next day. 

Reduces insomnia: Cancer patients reported that they fell asleep more quickly and slept more soundly after practicing yoga.

Provides gentle exercise: Yoga also helps enhance strength and flexibility, and gives women an overall sense of well-being. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce mortality in women with breast cancer.

Given all those benefits, women with battling or recovering from breast cancer (as well as the rest of us) might want to strike a pose, breathe deep, and say "ohm!"

Have you experienced health benefits from yoga, especially while battling breast cancer?

 

Image via lululemon athletica/Flickr

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