By Margarita Nahapetyan
Yoga provides not only the emotional benefits to health of breast cancer patients, it can also relieve depression problems in them, reports a new U.S. study. Researchers found that women who participated in a 10 week course of Restorative Yoga, a mild form of the exercise, had a 50 per cent reduction in depression, were less tired and more likely to experience feelings of peacefulness.
Restorative Yoga is similar to the other Yoga classes, but more gentle, with the aid of props such as cushions, bolsters and blankets to support people in different levels of health and make their yoga practice more easy.
The study involved 44 breast cancer patients. The average age of participants was 56 years and about a third of the women were undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Half of the participants were enrolled in a yoga program, and 22 women were put on a waiting list in the control group.
The yoga group participated in a 75-minute classes that offered a combination of physical postures, breathing and deep relaxation. By using props, instructors were able to help the women find a comfortable position in order to hold the poses for several minutes. At the beginning and the end of the program that lasted for 10 weeks, both groups of women completed questionnaires describing their quality of life.
A follow-up assessment at the end of the study period revealed that yoga group participants who started off with more negative emotions and lower emotional well-being, showed greater improvements emotionally, physically and psychologically compared to the women in the control group, who also started with the same emotions. In addition, all women in restorative yoga group were feeling less fatigue and needed less time to fall asleep.
"Given the high levels of stress and distress that many women with breast cancer experience, the opportunity to experience feeling more peaceful and calm in the midst of breast cancer is a significant benefit," a lead researcher of the study, Suzanne Danhauer, Ph.D., of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, said in the news release.
Overall, the results of the study showed that there were psychological benefits for the breast cancer patients who participated in restorative yoga classes. Restorative Yoga helped depression, and reduced the stress of dealing with breast cancer. However, the small size of the study means that more investigation and research would be needed in order to determine exactly how helpful this mind-body therapy might be for breast cancer patients.
"This was a pilot study to identify the worthiness and feasibility of conducting a larger randomized control trial on restorative yoga and women with breast cancer," concluded Dr. Danhauer. "Our results are very promising and will allow us to embark on a much larger scale study."
The study appears in February 28 special issue of Psycho-Oncology focusing on physical activity.