Photo courtesy of B4BC Team Rider @MaliaManuel
If you haven’t noticed, we absolutely LOVE yoga here at B4BC! Not only does it help improve your posture and flexibility, lower your blood pressure, and bring you some inner peace, yoga is also a great way to prevent cancer. Doesn’t get much better than that! Check out a few of the ways that yoga helps to keep you cancer-free:
YOGA STRENGTHENS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The goal of strengthening the immune system is to keep all of the body’s systems working together. It takes a village: Failure of any one system threatens the health of the whole community. Cancer therapies that seek to strengthen the immune system are increasingly proving to be helpful in fighting a wide variety of cancers. Research shows that yoga boosts immunity. A 2013 study in Norway found that regular practice of gentle yoga and meditation had a rapid effect at the genetic level in circulating cancer-fighting immune cells. Mindfulness meditation also appears to change the brain and immune function in positive ways.
YOGA DETOXIFIES THE BODY
Detoxification is the vital metabolic process by which dead cells and toxins (the flu virus, a rogue cancer cell, or another pathogen) are excreted from the body. Similar to how the heart muscle circulates blood, yoga increases lymphatic flow with specific breathing and movement practices. Inversions, a fundamental part of a strong yoga practice, utilize movement and body positioning to reverse the effects of gravity on our body, enhancing the process of cardiovascular and lymphatic drainage. Yoga detoxifies the mind as well. We can detoxify the mind by using the movement of the breath, by relaxing into gravity in a restorative pose, and by quietly watching our thoughts in meditation.
YOGA BUILDS BONES
How are strong bones linked to cancer prevention? Our bones house bone marrow, where new red and white blood cells are constantly being produced. White blood cells are needed to form leukocytes, our natural cancer-fighting immune cells. If our bones are compromised, so too is the production of a nourishing blood supply and immune protection. A recent pilot study by Loren Fishman, MD, applied yoga practice to sufferers of osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass) and osteopenia (reduction in bone volume). The results showed that 85 percent of the yoga practitioners gained bone in both the spine and hip, while nearly every member of the control group maintained or lost bone mass.
YOGA REDUCES STRESS
Unfortunately, we all suffer from stress in one way or another. Lucky for us, yoga is known to reduce stress and enhance positivity. The results of a 2009 study on the effects of yoga on emotions found an increase in positive emotions such as calmness and a sense of purpose in more than 50 percent of subjects. Women participating in a 10-week program of restorative yoga classes gained positive differences in aspects of mental health such as depression, positive emotions, and spirituality (feeling calm and peaceful), as compared to the control group.
YOGA IS WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Obesity is a key, if not the largest, indicator of both cancer incidence and recurrence. In the United States, excess body weight is thought to contribute to as many as one out of five cancer-related deaths, and being overweight or obese is clearly linked with an increased risk of several types of cancer.
Photo courtesy of B4BC team rider @JamieAnderson
Never tried yoga or are still a yoga beginner? Don’t worry! Check out our Yoga 101 to learn the basics before you start your new yoga journey. Here at B4BC we truly believe in the healing powers of yoga.
If you’re feeling inspired, head over to our Yoga Heals page. Yoga Heals is a community-based program that seeks to promote health and wellness through yoga, while fundraising for the B4BC Survivorship Fund. All funds from these events go straight towards connecting breast cancer survivors with nature-based wellness experiences that enhance their path of healing and long-term survivorship. To learn more about these awesome retreats or to nominate a deserving breast cancer survivor in your life, check out ChasingSunshineProject.org!