How Yoga Can Improve Your Breast Health (and More)
When you think of breast health, it's difficult not to think of breast cancer as the sole focus of your attention. Given that breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer diagnosed in women and that more than 40,000 people died of the disease in 2017, that focus is warranted. But breast health goes beyond cancer. It's about muscle tone, circulation, strength and more.
Lifestyle changes are never a bad idea, whether for your overall health or for breast health specifically (and, yes, to help in some measure in warding off cancer). One such change is to welcome yoga into your daily routine.
And while yoga can't cure cancer or any other chronic illness, it can help heal the mind and spirit. Yoga can improve the quality of your sleep, elevate your mood, increase your ability to focus, reduce anxiety and stress, and minimize fatigue, depression and joint pain, some of which benefit breast health.
The benefits of yoga on the body
Yoga is the practice of performing physical poses and using deep-breathing techniques to promote physical, mental and emotional health.
Because yoga is a strengthening exercise, it can reduce pain, ease arthritis symptoms, and improve your balance and posture by strengthening your core muscles. It's also great for improving circulation through the lymphatic system. A combination of all of these benefits pays off for breast health.
Practicing yoga can also boost your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight, an important part of overall health that contributes to a reduced risk of developing any kind of chronic illness.
When practicing deep-breathing techniques during a yoga session, you're improving the flow of oxygen, which can boost your immune system, potentially protecting you from the growth of abnormal cells.
Yoga poses for breast health
If you want to seriously introduce yoga into your routine, you should aim to build up to three to five 30-minute sessions per week. Easing into it will give your body time to rest and build muscle between sessions. Start with simple poses if you're new to yoga.
Kneel on your yoga mat and slowly bend forward until your forehead is resting on the mat. You can either stretch your arms in front of you or let them fall alongside your body naturally.
The child's pose is great for beginners because it doesn't require too much strength or flexibility, and it can be modified to fit your comfort level. The pose stretches the muscles in your back and relaxes your chest muscles, easing tension and improving posture, which can ultimately lead to better circulation in your chest.
Sitting spinal twist
Sit on the floor with one leg straight in front of you and bend the other leg over the straightened leg. Then twist your upper body and bring your arm across so you're resting the opposite elbow on the knee in front of you. Congratulations, you're doing the sitting spinal twist.
This pose opens up the chest and can help improve oxygen circulation, because it allows you to practice deep-breathing techniques easily. It also improves lung function and can relieve tension in your back.
To perform the bridge pose, you'll have to lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your palms next to your hips and use them to keep yourself stable as you lift your hips and back off the floor. You can then clasp your hands together under your back and stretch them toward your feet.
If you hunch over and have poor posture, you may be tightening your chest and preventing a healthy flow of oxygen. This pose can strengthen your core and improve your posture, opening up your chest area and helping to maintain the flow of oxygen to the lymphatic areas in this region.
Because yoga is a strengthening exercise, it can reduce pain, ease arthritis symptoms, and improve your balance and posture by strengthening your core muscles.
Now that you can see how yoga can improve your breast health, start researching other poses that you can add to your routine.
From increased blood and oxygen flow to a stronger core and better posture, you can start to improve your breast health—as well as the rest of your body—with low-impact, high-results exercises.