Yoga + Health

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Shiva Rae for Keep A Breast – Photo courtesy of prAna

The Facts - Basic Breast Cancer Info:

Today - no matter your race or ethnicity - breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. It has been shown that the hormone estrogen fuels breast cancers. Some risk factors may include; family history, age, never giving birth, not breastfeeding, late menopause, early menstruation, stress, increase in estrogen levels, being overweight, and not getting regular exercise. Many of the risk factors are controllable, indicating the importance of exercise and living an active and healthy lifestyle.

Take Action & Reduce your risk - Exercise Prevention:

Practicing yoga will help you stay fit could possibly lower your risk of getting breast cancer! Some studies have shown that just 30 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 times a week could lower your risk by 30-50%! Plus, exercise boosts your T-Cells and helps your immune system battle back against cancer. In addition to exercise and keeping a controlled weight, eating healthy to eliminate toxins from your diet and life has also shown to be very important.

Take Action - Yoga and Breast Cancer:

Yoga is a complementary holistic approach to breast health and breast cancer recovery. Although not a universally agreed upon scientific approach, one would want to do everything in their power to keep circulating estrogen levels low. Several studies indicate that yoga could yield significant health benefits and improve the quality of life for breast cancer survivors. In these studies, practicing yoga had shown to reduce fatigue and improve quality of sleep, physical vitality, ability to cope and overall quality of life.

The reasons why the practice of yoga has been seen and studied as a method of breast cancer prevention is because some of the essential elements to the practice of yoga could also reduce controllable cancer risk factors. Some of these elements include: Attention to nutrition, The avoidance of ingestion of chemical and other environmental pollutants, the need for regular exercise, adequate breathing and oxygenation of the blood, freedom from psychological stress, and the need for a vital positive interest in life.

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Shaney jo Darden - The Keep A Breast Foundation Founder Photo By : Katherine Sheehan

Yoga and Breast Cancer Patients:

For those who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer there are many options to make the recovery process more peaceful & bearable and promotes energy.

Take Action: Restorative Yoga

is the yoga of deep, aware relaxation. It is yoga of ‘Being’ rather than yoga of ‘Doing’. It relies on you using a sequence of specially designed postures in which your body is completely supported and holding these poses for long periods of time. These postures need to be selected carefully to suit your unique needs. This allows your muscles to relax and melt into place instead of stretching and straining into position. As your body finds the shape of the posture and melts into place your nervous system switches to calmness and a deep inner healing mode. Restorative yoga poses are especially beneficial during times of feeling depleted and fatigued. Support offered by props relieves the musculoskeletal system and as the breath moves slowly and smoothly the nervous system shifts to a quieter mode.

Take Action: Vinyasa Yoga

offers fun, vigorous, and energetic asana posture sequences that are taught in a flow-style and inter-links the poses through a series of movements. The Vinyasa yoga sequences encourage strength and flexibility while enhancing respiration, circulation, and lymphatic flow helping to heat the muscles and connective tissue and detoxify the body. The lymphatic system is a complex network of vessels and ducts that move fluid throughout the body and is responsible for moving toxins away from healthy cells and carrying germ-fighting materials to cells when they are under attack by viruses. This type of immune-strengthening yoga focuses on hip openers, twists, and functional core strength. These long holds of deep expansive poses help you feel taller, release tension, and flush out the lymphatic system for full-body immune-boosting, rest, and restoration-promoting balance.

Fun Fact - Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy Yoga Study:

While the scientific research on most complementary therapies is relatively new and the studies are small, early results have shown that some complementary therapies may help ease physical and emotional symptoms in some people. When combined with conventional medicine, complementary therapies may offer a more integrated approach to healing.

Occasionally, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer will suffer from psychological issues. The treatment given in the form of surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy also produce various bodily side effects. Together, these often times diminish the quality of life of the patient. A recent study (CITING?) at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center examined the use of yoga in improving the quality of life in women who were undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer. The results indicated that the yoga program was associated with statistically and clinically significant improvements in aspects of quality of life. The yoga group had higher scores in almost every area and reported less fatigue and fewer problems with daytime drowsiness. This study provided important evidence that illustrates yoga’s powerful effects in helping us react to situations - as serious as they may be - with acceptance and equanimity making recovery from breast cancer much more tolerable.

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Printed E.C.O. Yoga Mat x Keep A Breast - Photo courtesy of prAna

Take Action: Pregnancy and yoga

We encourage all women to take action during or after pregnancy because there is such a large connection between pregnancy, breast feeding, and lowering your risk. Two options for new mothers are mom yoga and prenatal yoga.

A woman doesn’t have to stop exercising or practicing yoga if pregnant or if they are a new mom! Many yoga studios offer prenatal yoga and ‘mommy and me’ yoga classes specifically designed for the journey of pregnancy and giving birth. Because yoga targets the hormonal system it is able to bring ones emotions into balance and when our hormonal system is balanced our ability to deal with stress as it arises is improved lowering our risk for breast cancer.

Take Action: Prenatal yoga

is a safe and gentle class for women to attend throughout their pregnancy. Women will learn specific yoga poses, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques designed to relieve the physical and emotional discomforts that occur during pregnancy and to prepare them in mind, body, and spirit to give birth. Prenatal yoga will benefit a woman through all stages of their pregnancy and will lower levels of maternal stress hormones and release endorphins or “feel good” hormones. Prenatal yoga is conducted in a calm and peaceful environment and will help strengthen the uterus and pelvic muscles, improve circulation, aid in digestion, exercise the spine and increase overall bodily comfort.

Take Action: Mommy & me yoga

focuses on strengthening the spiritual, emotional, and physical bond between mother and child. Childbirth already lowers our estrogen levels and practicing prenatal yoga will prepare our bodies for this. These postnatal yoga classes can result in an intense bond between mother and child leading to successful breastfeeding that also reduces estrogen levels and ultimately lowers risk factors! Practicing postnatal yoga supports healthy weight loss, increases energy, and reduces cortisol “stress hormone” levels making life after pregnancy calm, balanced, and healthy.

Fun Fact: How Does Breastfeeding Help Prevent Breast Cancer?

Pregnancy before age 30 and breastfeeding have been shown to reduce a woman's total number of lifetime menstrual cycles which is thought to be the reason that they help lower your risk. Since pregnancy and lactation both reduce our estrogen levels, risk is decreased each time a woman is pregnant and while nursing.

There are several theories about how breastfeeding protects a woman from developing breast cancer: A woman’s lifetime exposure to estrogen is reduced which decreases the possibility of developing estrogen-fueled breast cancer. The hormone balances are different during lactation resulting in fewer menstrual cycles and less estrogen exposure. The environmental carcinogens that are stored in fat - which make up a large portion of the breast - cannot be efficiently stored in lactating breast. Breastfeeding may cause changes to breast cells that make them more resistant to cancer-related mutations.

prAna + KAB

prAna has partnered with the Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB) in creating an exclusive E.C.O. printed yoga mat to raise awareness and support for KAB’s continuing efforts to eradicate breast cancer. Both KAB and prAna want you to go out into the world and be active daily – increased exercise and lower stress have been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer and could potentially alleviate the hardship of a cancer recovery.

Through their forward-thinking missions, prAna and Keep A Breast promote living a wholesome and healthy life through education, awareness, promoting methods of prevention as well as encouraging the practice of sustainability. 10% of the wholesale cost of this prAna x Keep A Breast collaboration E.C.O. printed yoga mat will benefit KAB’s support, education, art, and prevention programs.