Recent clinical research shows promising proof that practicing yoga can have beneficial effects for those going through cancer treatment and for survivors of cancer. In a lecture about this topic, Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, Director of Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson, shared some of his research findings. In a collaborative study with the Vyasa Group, Dr. Cohen worked with women who were in radiation treatment for breast cancer. According to him, these women were “a great group to work with”, because they tend to be at the hospital a lot for their treatments…"They’re here and they’re captive.”
In this particular study, the patients attended yoga sessions twice a week for six weeks. The practice consisted of pranayama, 7 simple asana movements that included forward bends, back-bending, and side-bending, along with deep relaxation, and meditation.
1) General health improved
2) Physical function improved
3) Fatigue levels improved
4) Post-chemo induced nausea frequency, intensity improved
5) Intensity of anticipatory nausea, anticipatory vomiting improved
6) Ability to find meaning in their cancer experience improved
7) Cortisol levels improved
8) Reduction of intrusive thoughts stayed the same
Dr. Cohen explained that the reason the patients were seeing such results from this study was that they were showing up for all of the yoga sessions, they were DO-ing the yoga, a “captive” audience, he mentioned.
Of all the results from this research, Dr. Cohen believes a big predictor of yoga’s effectiveness lies in the results of the cortisol levels. Cortisol, a stress hormone that is high in the a.m. and tends to drop at night, was definitely affected in a beneficial way as a result of the yoga practice.