Yoga Can Improve Quality of Life

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The results of a new study, as well as a number of other small but important studies, show that yoga can boost a woman's quality of life while she's being treated for breast cancer. In this study, women who took yoga classes had better emotional, social, and spiritual well-being compared to women who didn't take yoga. Women who were not having chemotherapy got more benefits from yoga. This could be because fatigue and other chemotherapy side effects may make it harder to participate in yoga.

Maintaining balance in your life while dealing with breast cancer can be difficult. Complementary medicine, such as yoga, focuses on the interactions between your mind, your body, and your behavior. The goal of complementary medicine is to balance the whole person -- physically, mentally, and emotionally -- while conventional medicine does its work. While scientific research on most complementary medicine techniques is relatively new and the studies are small, early results have shown that some complementary medicine may help ease physical and emotional symptoms in some people. When combined with conventional medicine, complementary therapies may offer a more integrated approach to healing.

Yoga, which means "union," is a 5,000-year-old system of principles and practices originating in India. Yoga incorporates nutrition guidelines, ethics, exercise, and meditation with the intention of bringing together the mind, body, and spirit. One of the most frequently practiced types of yoga is hatha yoga, which uses physical poses and breathing techniques to increase strength, flexibility, and well-being. Hatha yoga was the kind of yoga used in this research study. All the poses could be performed by sitting in a chair or lying down.

If you're considering doing yoga to complement your breast cancer treatment plan, consider a class that is taught by an instructor familiar with the special needs of breast cancer patients. An experienced instructor can tailor poses to accommodate any physical limitations you might have because of your treatment. Some breast cancer patients can have arm and shoulder problems that could be aggravated by some yoga poses.

In the Breastcancer.org Complementary Medicine section you can learn more, including:

  • what to expect
  • how to find a qualified practitioner
  • important things to consider before trying a technique

And stay tuned to Breastcancer.org to read about the latest scientific research on complementary medicine techniques.

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