Active Practice of Iyengar Yoga as an Intervention for Breast Cancer Survivors
International Journal of Yoga Therapy
The Iyengar system of Yoga is well suited to meet the guidelines for physical activity for breast cancer survivors. Attention to alignment and symmetry, the use of props, and careful sequencing all improve stamina, strength, flexibility, and confidence, while decreasing stress and side effects. Women (n = 18, ages 48 to 69 years) diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer and receiving antiestrogen or aromatase inhibitor hormonal therapy were recruited for this study. The range of time since
... of time since chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment was three months to eight years. The subjects were randomized to either a Yoga (n = 9) or wait-list control group. Beginning level Iyengar Yoga classes were conducted two times per week for eight weeks. The women were given a home instruction sheet to practice once a week at home for a total of three Yoga sessions per week. A 92.9% ± 9.8% (mean ± SD) compliance rate for weekly home practice was achieved. During the sixth week of classes, the subjects were asked to complete a 31-question self-report survey that focused on their feelings of stress, level of physical and mental effort during class sessions, and perceptions about how Yoga practice had influenced their awareness. The preliminary findings indicate that the Yoga class was well tolerated by the participants. 75% of the women reported that they would not prefer a slower paced class with less demanding poses. Yoga practice relieved the joint aches and shoulder stiffness associated with the side effects of hormonal treatment for 25% of the participants. Over 60% of the women reported improved mood and less anxiety as an outcome of the Yoga practice.