By Lara Evans Bracciante
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, October/November 2003.
Yoga may ease nausea and anxiety in breast cancer patients undergoing treatment, according to a recent study conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. Subjects included 126 women with an average age of 53, and most with stage I or stage II breast cancer. One group was assigned to 12 weeks of classes, three times a week, and daily home practice, while the control group was put on a yoga class wait list. Researchers called the results of the study striking: The yoga group reported a 12 percent improvement in quality-of-life measurements and had less fatigue and better physical functioning. While the breathing exercises espoused by yoga practice proved to be particularly helpful in managing nausea, a common side effect of chemotherapy, the greatest benefit was the sense of well-being yoga provided patients. On the other hand, the wait-listed women reported more social and emotional distress. Researchers also noted that, for women unfamiliar with the ancient practice, yoga works equally well when called “gentle movement and stretching” as it does for women who participate in yoga classes at upscale health clubs.