August 7, 2021

5 Simple Yoga Stretches to Regain Mobility After a Mastectomy.

*Editor’s Note: Elephant is not your doctor or hospital. Our lawyers would say “this web site is not designed to, and should not be construed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.” But we can’t afford lawyers, and you knew all that. ~ Ed

What if you could begin to regain your range of motion in just five minutes a day?

Have you been cleared by your doctor to begin gentle movement but not sure where to begin? Try these five simple stretches every day to get started.

Where do I begin? When movement is uncomfortable, it can be hard to motivate ourselves to do it consistently. Your incision sites are tender and the scar tissue is limiting your range of motion. Add to that the fact that you have likely been resting and recovering, which often means extended periods of time sitting and lying down.

Meryl Streep quoted these wise words of encouragement from her husband, “Start by starting.” The task of healing may, at times, seem daunting. Start small. Be consistent and celebrate each step forward along the way. Trust that your body is resilient. The simple truth is that repetition creates results. While you may not be able to carve out longer chunks of time every day, you can likely find five minutes to practice these yoga stretches to gain back your range of motion over time.

Before you begin, be sure you are cleared by your doctor to do gentle movement. Listen to your body and honor where it is at each day and each step of the process.

Snow Angels

Just like when you were a kid! Lie on your back and stretch your legs out long (or support under your knees with a pillow).

Begin with your arms by your sides and your palms facing up to the ceiling. Keeping your arms connected to the ground, inhale and move your arms up overhead. As you exhale, sweep your arms back by your sides…just like making snow angels,

You will likely feel a stopping point along the way. You want to come to that point but not push past to where there is pain.

Repeat with palms facing down to the ground and palms facing in toward your sides.

Yoga Stretches


Stay lying on your back with your arms by your sides. This time, as you inhale, reach one arm up toward the ceiling and then overhead. As you exhale, lower the arm back by your side. Repeat back and forth with each arm for one minute.

Like snow angels, you will likely reach a resistance point. Go to that but not past that.

yoga stretches

Heart Melting Pose

Begin in Table Top Position (hands and knees) with your shoulders stacked over your hands and your hips stacked over your knees.

Keep your hips stacked there and walk your hands forward until your forehead comes to, or toward the ground.

A block or a pillow for support under your forehead can be great if the mat feels really far away!

This looks a lot like Child’s pose but with your hips over your knees instead of back to your heels.

yoga stretches

Shoulder Opener with a Strap

You can do this one seated or standing and you will need a yoga strap or any type of belt or scarf that is fairly long.

Hold one end of the strap in each hand and take your arms out to a wide V-shape in front of you.

As you inhale, lift your arms overhead and as you exhale, reach your arms behind you.

Repeat back to front and front to back a few times. Go slowly and move with your breath.

You want there to be tension on the strap and feel the end range of motion without pain.

yoga stretches

Fallen Angel at the Wall

Stand with the right side of your body along the wall. Stretch your right arm straight back from your shoulder with your palm pressing into the wall.

You will likely feel the stretch just by doing that, but if not, begin to turn your chest away from the wall.

Keep your hand active as you press it into the wall. Repeat for the left side.

yoga stretches

Are you looking for nourishing ways to support your recovery from home? It can take time to rebuild the strength and stamina often needed for a “regular” yoga class. NOURISH is an online yoga community that offers classes designed for people in cancer treatment and recovery. This is your journey but you don’t have to do it alone.

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