Yoga and Breast Cancer

Within the last year, there have been a number of studies published on the benefits of yoga for breast cancer survivors. All the studies point to an improvement in quality of life (QOL). In a pilot study at the University of Pittsburgh, involving 25 survivors with low QOL, recently published in Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice, researchers found that those who had low emotional health had significant improvement in depression and anxiety scores.

In addition to the pilot study, there have been four literature reviews of yoga and breast cancer studies published recently. These literature reviews considered only substantial randomized and controlled trials (RCT). As concluded in the reviews, there is a growing body of evidence that supports yoga for after-treatment care. One literature review conducted in England found over 132 published studies, 18 of which were RCT. According to the authors, “all 18 studies reported positive effects for treatment-related side effects in favor of the yoga interventions, with the greatest impact on global quality of life (QOL) scores and emotional well-being.”

In a literature review conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, the authors found that sleep was significantly improved among breast cancer survivors practicing yoga. Improvements were also documented in anxiety, depression, distress, quality of life, and post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting. A third literature review published in a Cancer Journal analyzed 12 RCT and found “evidence for short-term effects of yoga in improving psychological health in breast cancer patients.” A final review of studies conducted in China included many more trials, but they were not randomized and controlled. Still, this study points to the same conclusion: Yoga helps breast cancer survivors deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and helps restore emotional wellbeing.dvd-level-1-coverdvd-level-2-cover

If you would like to begin a home yoga practice, click here.  If you already have an established practice, and would like to try LifeForce Yoga, click here.

 

Cramer H, Lange S, Klose P, Paul A, Dobos G., “Yoga for breast cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” BMC Cancer. 2012 Sep 18;12(1):412.

Harder H, Parlour L, Jenkins V., “Randomised controlled trials of yoga interventions for women with breast cancer: a systematic literature review.” Support Care Cancer. 2012 Oct 6.

Levine AS, Balk JL., “Pilot study of yoga for breast cancer survivors with poor quality of life,” Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice. 2012 Nov;18(4):241-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.06.007.

Stan DL, Collins NM, Olsen MM, Croghan I, Pruthi S. “The evolution of mindfulness-based physical interventions in breast cancer survivors,” Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012;2012:758641.

 

About the Author

Amy Weintraub

Amy Weintraub E-RYT 500, MFA, YACEP, C-IAYT, founded the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute, which trains yoga and health professionals internationally, and is the author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists. The LifeForce Yoga protocol is used by health care providers worldwide. She is involved in ongoing research on the effects of yoga on mood.

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I absolutely love this stuff! I have been using it with my clients and I am just finding it to be so incredibly helpful. There seriously something for everything. Although I am not as skilled as I hope to be someday, even at my level of training I’m finding that I am beginning to figure out what to do. It just blows my mind! - Christine Brudnicki, MS, LPC
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“Giving my clients a strategy and permission to quiet their minds and rebalance the sympathetic nervous system has been very beneficial to them and in our work together.” — Sue Dilsworth, PhD, RYT 200, LFYP, Allendale, MI
“I gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“My life is already changed! I will use the tools I learned in my own practice and in my work. I feel safe and seen.” — Susan Andrea Weiner, MA, teacher/expressive arts facilitator, El Cerrito, CA.
“I have found the LFYP training to be incredibly useful in giving people specific tools to use in maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance, and further opening their intuitive abilities.” — Nancy Windheart, RYT-200, LFYP, Reiki Master, Animal communication teacher, Prescott, AZ
“My personal practice will change, as well as my yoga classes. I have a better understanding of yoga!” — Andrea Gattuso, RYT, Yoga Teacher, Hackettstown, N.J.
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“A client who returned said, "When I came before, you helped me understand and get where I wanted to go. Now you show me yoga practices I use to help myself understand and get where I want to go.” — Sherry Rubin, LCSW, BCD, LFYP, Downingtown, PA
“I have gained a softer heart, more receptive mind, and tools to enrich both personal and professional aspects of my life.” – Regina Trailweaver, LICSW, clinical social worker, Hancock, VT.
“This program changed my life in a significant way. It helped me connect with the spirit which is something you can’t get from psychotherapy and medication.” – G. W., artist, Pittsburgh, PA
“Yoga Skills for Therapists is the ideal resource for those who want to bring yoga practices into psychotherapy or healthcare. Weintraub, a leader in the field of yoga therapy, offers evidence-based, easy-to-introduce strategies for managing anxiety, improving mood, and relieving suffering. Helpful clinical insights and case examples emphasize safety, trust, and skillful adaptation to the individual, making it easy to apply the wisdom of yoga effectively in the therapeutic context.” — Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author, Yoga for Pain Relief, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
“This workshop helped me rededicate my energies and begin to work through some of the blocks I’ve felt creatively.” — Steve Mark, college professor, New Haven, CT
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