Benefits of Yoga
Learning more about the potential benefits of yoga is not really surpising, but it is nice to read more positives about this special form of exercise. For several years, I participated in a weekly class for women who had been treated for breast cancer, and it was great. Indeed, I felt strong and more flexible and very relaxed in the immediate moments afterwards. Life changed, and that particular class stopped, and I have not really done yoga since. Last summer, I went one morning to a drop in yoga class near our cottage in Maine. I had seen the sign, and it seemed like an easy and good opportunity to try this again. Instead, it was a stark reminder of the difference a few years (maybe 8, not really sure when the earlier yoga class ended) can make, and that, although I do go to the gym daily, yoga clearly uses different muscles. Several of the poses were very tough, and the larger problem was the next morning when I could barely move.
As I write this, I am thinking that I should find a local class and try again. The usual impediments of time and schedule jump to mind, but it is usually possible to fit things in if I/you really want to do so. I suspect that yoga would help with stiffness and might provide an enhanced sense of well-being. This article, from BMC Cancer, supports a real reduction in anxiety and depression for women who participate as well as some improvement in general functioning and physical well-being.
Here is the abstract and a link:
RESEARCH ARTICLE Open Access
Physical and psychosocial benefits of yoga in
cancer patients and survivors, a systematic review
and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Laurien M Buffart
1*, Jannique GZ van Uffelen2,3, Ingrid I Riphagen4, Johannes Brug1, Willem van Mechelen5,
Wendy J Brown
3 and Mai JM Chinapaw5
This study aimed to systematically review the evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and to
conduct a meta-analysis of the effects of yoga on physical and psychosocial outcomes in cancer patients and survivors.
A systematic literature search in ten databases was conducted in November 2011. Studies were included if
they had an RCT design, focused on cancer patients or survivors, included physical postures in the yoga program,
compared yoga with a non-exercise or waitlist control group, and evaluated physical and/or psychosocial outcomes.
Two researchers independently rated the quality of the included RCTs, and high quality was defined as >50% of the
total possible score. Effect sizes (Cohen
’s d) were calculated for outcomes studied in more than three studies among patients with
breast cancer using means and standard deviations of post-test scores of the intervention and control groups.
Results: Sixteen publications of 13 RCTs met the inclusion criteria, of which one included patients with
lymphomas and the others focused on patients with breast cancer. The median quality score was 67%
–89%). The included studies evaluated 23 physical and 20 psychosocial outcomes. Of the outcomes
studied in more than three studies among patients with breast cancer, we found large reductions in distress,
anxiety, and depression (
d = −0.69 to −0.75), moderate reductions in fatigue (d = −0.51), moderate increases in
general quality of life, emotional function and social function (d = 0.33 to 0.49), and a small increase in functional
well-being (d = 0.31). Effects on physical function and sleep were small and not significant.
Conclusion: Yoga appeared to be a feasible intervention and beneficial effects on several physical and
psychosocial symptoms were reported. In patients with breast cancer, effect size on functional well-being was
small, and they were moderate to large for psychosocial outcomes.