Mastectomy chest stretch 

One of my favorite post mastectomy yoga stretching is laying on my back on a bolster (you could also use a rolled up towel or a pillow.)

Laying on your back with the bolster or pillow strait up the spine from the base of the spine to the neck or head. Let your shoulder fall off to the side opening the chest.

You can keep your arms to the sides and work on getting them out to the sides as you get the scar tissue or the tight muscles if the are above implants. This will slowly open up the muscles and will help get back to full range of motion. 

My story will be a Comedy

I heard something in the last few weeks that made me think.

It was along the lines of this: “Your life story can be a comedy or a tragedy. It depends on how much you choose to laugh.” 

So many things strike me about this story idea. It is how you tell your story. How you share that story and become a character in someone else’s story. I want to be a positive story 

I have lived a lot of my life, my story, as a tragic story. I try to take every positive spin, but if I had to pick one or the other, I know I’ve been “woe is me” more than I care to admit.  Sometimes the bad things just keep hitting and you feel like you never can get out of it. I’ve been there. Too many times. Plans going horribly wrong. 

I’m not talking about spraining my ankle the day before a triathlon (happened) or my third bout of chicken pox (yep, that too) or a Christmas Root Canal… I could go on but this is plenty. I’m talking loosing my mom, having a gene, years later I come to terms with removing my breasts and bang, I get misdiagnosed with cancer a week before I leave for the surgery. 

This is the times. It’s probably me, some how my fault. Or at least I rarely handle these stresses in the best manor. 

But thinking of my story this way. You almost have to laugh. And I will more because I haven’t enough. I just want to spend the rest of my days laughing at the bad. “Could only happen to me,” I’ll say. But my story is a comedy. It’s going to be fun to be a part of because I’ll always be the first to jump in* and come up laughing. 

*side story, in Mexico I was with a group, mostly couples, in a jungle. Side note: where they filmed predator.  Anyways, there was a rope swing-I headed right over. Knee surgeries be damned. You are only in this moment once. I jumped. Then all the males where up removing shirts. Ready now. 😆 my second jump left a huge bruise. But I came up laughing. Smiling from ear to ear. My story will be a comedy. Seeing the video, it was much less intimidating than it looked! And it is definitely comedic. 

Pain will always be part of life. We can try to avoid it, ignore it, or numb it. Maybe, maybe, we laugh at the absurdity of it and enjoy every moment. 

  

 

BRCA, my Family and Yoga

The past week has been filled with reflection on my family.  We had a death in the family which brought my family together for my mother’s uncle.  Not knowing him very well, I knew him as the Leap Year baby of the family.  I think I remember going to his 16th birthday party.  But it made me think about how much I love and value my uncles and aunts, cousins.  Loosing a parent, one of their siblings, bonds you.  There is a gap there where she should be and although it should bring us closer, I think that gap is always unspoken.  We lost the person who connects us.

But at this funeral I also had the opportunity to meet someone I knew only by blood.  Specifically, our shared genetic mutation.  I believe we are the only two in our family in our generation to be passed this legacy.  Looking into the eyes of someone who you don’t know, yet you share so much, a pain, a sorrow, a fear maybe.  Something binds us that is greater than understanding.  It’s blood.

In yoga, this has brought up the struggles that my chest poses that I don’t talk about enough.  But I do want to talk about it because I know there are other women out there like me that had a prophylactic mastectomy and many more that have had cancer and a mastectomy. So a latest guide to the world of mastectomy yoga:

  • Hatha Yoga is a great place to start if you have had a mastectomy.  The stretching aspect will really help open the chest without putting weight onto the chest muscles.
    • Let me back up – Something like a plank or downward dog, side plank especially puts your body weight in a position that uses primarily the chest muscle.  For me, all of these postures are extremely uncomfortable and has taken a lot of work to be able to do what “normies” do easily.  If your reading and you haven’t had a mastectomy here’s what it feels like – do anything flexing your chest muscle.  For me, I do that and it’s squeezing a baseball into my chest.  Let’s just say it doesn’t feel good.  Hatha yoga doesn’t have any of those chest squeezing postures.  It does however have chest opening which is wonderful after any chest surgeries.
  • Vinyasa/Power/Fusion These all are “next level” when I talk about chest squeezing.  It is into balancing on arms, progressive pressure.  Post-Mastectomy these are the most difficult classes.  The Chaturanga push up is near impossible to me.  I constantly have to make modifications and at some point want to make a video to show the different ways I have modified this common posture.
    • I have to note, this is very likely can be different to the type of surgery that you have.  I have a friend that can do an awesome chaturanga and she has also had surgery.  For me, it is very challenging.
  • Yin – You need this.  Doesn’t matter where you are in recovery, this will relax you, open your chest, let all the stress from the back muscles that have been protecting your chest go.  It’s amazing.  For anyone really recovering from surgery, Yin yoga is an easy way to love your body while you are recovering.  It’s like an hour long gift to your muscles.

Other things like side planks I just can’t do.  I’m always on my knee.  I am starting arm balancing which is super exciting.  It’s actually easier than the typical flow because the strength is in the arms and usually the chest isn’t working.  What I love about yoga in general, there’s always an inch farther, a new and challenging posture and growth even in the hardest/mundane.  For me my latest breakthrough (if you know yoga, you’ll know this one) Three legged dog, to stacked hips, to wild thing, back to three legged dog.

Give love today.  Give love everyday.