It is not uncommon for a woman to develop lymphedema after a mastectomy. Lymphedema is a sometimes painful swelling of the soft tissues. This can be due to the removal of lymph nodes, scar tissue, strictures, and other factors.
Manual lymphatic drainage massage is the usual recommended technique for treating this swelling. It may be surprising to know that another therapy that benefits lymphedema is yoga, particularly restorative yoga. When the lymphatic system is optimal, it is like a free flowing river that flows without any obstacles. However, when the lymph nodes are removed or damaged, the same flow encounters obstacles and begins to slow down, causing fluid to build up. This build-up in the tissue can cause swelling and inflammation and reduce the oxygen levels in the lymphatic tissue. The body’s white blood cells or immune soldiers may be impaired in their function in this situation. This can increase the risk of infection and cause possible permanent disability. Edema is common in the arms and legs, but it can also occur in other parts of the body.
Knowing the importance of running this fluid like a free flowing river, we need to encourage relaxation and gentle movements that encourage the increased flow. This is especially important after breast surgery or lump removal, when it is important to do new activities to increase impaired lymphatic function.
The need to develop a deeper state of relaxation in order to counteract the mental and physical stress of the disease and its treatment is vital to our health and wellbeing.
Practicing yoga, particularly restorative yoga that targets the chest area, keeps fluid moving through the body rather than slowing down and creating a support. This benefits the breasts by promoting drainage and healing, and creating a sense of security as the breasts expand.
Practicing restorative yoga daily reverses the harmful effects of too much sitting or inactivity. Beginning yoga practice with a knowledgeable restorative yoga instructor is just as important as wearing a bandage or support garment.
One important thing to understand in your restorative yoga practice is that you need to be slow enough to hear what your body is telling you. Every time you overload your muscles or strain your healing tissues, there is a risk of fluid building up.
Let this be the yoga practice of self-awareness.
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About Dawn Bradford Lange: Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yogon. Dawn makes a difference Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically in breast cancer. We want to give you the attention and personal service you need. If you have any questions please email us at email@example.com.