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Yoga Is Beneficial for Cancer Survivors

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I cohen_yoga post_edit.jpgn chronically ill people, yoga helps improve biological parameters, lessen the severity of symptoms, and improve quality of life at a physical and psychological level.


The growing body of scientific research on yoga in medical populations has documented the psychological and health benefits of these ancient practices. The few studies of yoga in people with cancer suggest that yoga helps improve sleep quality, physical functioning, mood, and social well being, as well as symptom control and immune outcomes for patients undergoing treatment. 

A new study presented at the 2010 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting provides further support for the benefits of yoga in an oncology setting

The study, conducted by Dr. Karen Mustian at the University of Rochester within the Community Clinical Oncology Program, randomly assigned 410 people who had been treated for early-stage cancer who were having sleep problems two to 24 months after the end of treatment. The participants were mainly breast cancer survivors and were assigned to either the yoga group - who had yoga classes two days a week for four weeks - or a comparison control group who were simply monitored.

By the end of the four-week program, the participants in the yoga group reported improvements in sleep outcomes, less fatigue and better quality of life compared to the control population. That such a brief yoga program led to improvements in sleep quality and fatigue is quite remarkable.

Sleep disturbances and fatigue are two of the most common long-term side effects experienced by people after cancer treatment. Conventional treatments for sleep disturbances and fatigue are of limited benefit and usually have unwanted side effects. Longer follow-up from this unprecedentedly large study is needed to determine the long-term benefits of the yoga program.     

Our own research at MD Anderson suggests that yoga helps improve sleep outcomes, decreases the side effects of treatment, improves physical functioning aspects of quality of life, and leads to an increase in finding meaning from the illness experience as patients transition from active treatment to cancer survivorship.

Yoga will benefit people when they are practicing on a regular basis. However it is a challenge to get people to continue to engage in these healthful practices after the initial instruction phase. Although some changes may be permanent, in the absence of practicing the improvements will likely be short lived without consistent follow-up. 

Mind-body practices are many and varied; yoga is especially useful as it is a quintessential mind-body practice that combines movement, breathing practices and meditation all with the purpose of creating a life with unity and complete awareness. The key is to find a practice that resonates with you and make it a daily practice. 

2 Comments

It is amazing to read about the scientific findings behind yoga. There is no doubt that if approached with an open mind and open heart, yoga helps one's overall well-being. I love having an evening yoga session an hour or two before bed - I've never slept better! I also liked this article relating to yoga and stress. http://ezinearticles.com/?Yoga-For-Stress&id=4494365

Yoga has got proven results all across the world curing so may people and bringing positive changes in the lives of so many people. There are many yoga workshops in the United States, one of them is american power yoga

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