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The Benefits Of Yoga After Cancer

May 25, 2010

According to research presented at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, the gentle stretching movements and the relaxing, focused breathing of yoga has many benefits to offer recovering cancer patients, especially those experiencing trouble sleeping and fatigue. The 410 people involved in the study were early stage cancer survivors from nine community clinical oncology centers who reported at least moderate sleep problems with sleep in the months following cancer therapy. Researcher Karen Mustian, PhD, MPH of the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY and colleagues found that after just four weeks of a twice-weekly program designed for cancer survivors called YOCAS® (Yoga for Cancer Survivors) sleep quality rose 22% compared with only a 12% improvement from baseline seen in non-participants, and there was a 42% reduction in fatigue among yoga participants versus 12% in non-participants. Yoga participants also experienced less daytime sleepiness and an improved quality of life. The YOCAS regimen included only gentle yoga postures in standing, seated, transitional and lying positions; traditional components of breathing, meditation and visualization were offered as well—all aspects of which can be found in most hatha yoga and restorative yoga classes. Mustian cautioned that the same benefits might not hold true with newer types of vigorous yoga and “hot yoga,” done in extremely high temperature rooms.