Yoga and heart health

A healthy heart requires a combination of stress management, regular exercise, proper nutrition and sufficient sleep

yoga blogWe’ve all read studies that point to the benefits of certain actions or habits on heart health. In fact, a recent study, “Effects of Yoga in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure: A Meta-Analysis,” reveals that yoga has profound benefits for those who are suffering from cardiovascular disease. In fact, it seems that yoga and heart health go hand in hand.

But is yoga all we need for heart health? What about our diets? Our exercise habits? We need to look at the big picture to fully understand the best way to a healthy heart — and that big picture includes more than a single component. It includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress management and sufficient sleep.

In support of the study, Yoga promotes breathing techniques, which help promote the relaxation response and reduce or eliminate stress, a potential factor in heart disease. Other benefits of yoga include enhanced strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. Continue reading

Sharing the light after cancer

cancer survivorOne of the best parts about working on the Cancer Center’s patient magazine, Thrive, is meeting patients who have made positive changes as a result of having been sick. For our fall issue, I interviewed Flora Migyanka, a breast cancer survivor.

Looking at Flora, you’d never suspect she’d been ill. As we all know, outward appearances can be misleading. Flora had a double mastectomy and still faces residual effects like swelling in her arm, pain and muscle wasting in her back. But as a wife and mother to young children, she has incentive to be well. Her family needs her and she needs them. Continue reading

Not just a feel-good practice: Benefits of yoga to people with cancer

yoga and cancerOver the past years increased attention has been given to the benefits of yoga during and after cancer treatment. Just this April, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published yet another astounding article about how yoga has not only an emotional impact on people affected by cancer but a physical one as well (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2014).

The practice of yoga during cancer treatment has been shown to assist with unwanted physical side effects, in particular fatigue and insomnia. This is of particular value since there is little medical intervention available as yet to assist with Continue reading

Simple stress-reducing techniques

Find the technique that fits your lifestyle

When you’re able to identify the situations that trigger stress in your life, you can learn techniques for PhysicalTechniquesBlog1.fwdealing with those situations more effectively. If not dealt with in a healthy way, stress can lead to a weakened immune system, loss of sleep, increased heart rate, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.

With the right stress-reducing techniques, you’ll not only be able to manage the harmful effects of stress on your mind and body, you’ll also be saving your energy for things that are more positive and productive in your life.

Remember, controlling stress is a lifelong process. Learning what triggers your stress is an important first step, along with recognizing that some stressors cannot be controlled or changed no matter how much you worry about them. The key is to incorporate relaxation techniques for managing stress and its effects on your body. Here are some to get you started:

Continue reading

Deep Breaths: Harnessing the power of yoga to recover from breast cancer


Flora Migyanka in the crow pose

Flora Migyanka is standing on her hands, lifting her feet off the ground to complete the crow pose, or bakasana.

Just over a year earlier, she had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after being diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Her surgery was seven hours long and involved around 500 stitches.

She went through physical therapy and occupational therapy, rehabilitating her arms and back all through the summer of 2012, and she still continues with occupational therapy today.

But she prefers to talk about the intensive 12-week yoga training course she’s in the middle of right now.

“Yoga has given me the tools to navigate through the physical and emotional pain and learn to breathe and live through it. It’s such an important thing – whether you meditate or exercise – everyone needs some outlet,” Flora says.

Continue reading

Tips for reducing stress

Simple strategies to overcome that overwhelmed feeling

woman and exercise ball

A new workout program can help reduce feelings of stress.

Are you stressed? Overwhelmed? Snowed under? Most people feel some type of stress in their lives. “It’s how you deal with the stress that’s important,” says University of Michigan dietitian Susan Ryskamp, M.S., R.D.

Long-term stress, Ryskamp says, can result in conditions that lead to heart attack, including:

Continue reading