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Yoga Shown to Improve Mental State of Breast Cancer Patients

Posted: March 3, 2009

Wellness options have become popular in the spa industry in recent years, and a new study shows how one offering is helping improve the mental states of breast cancer patients.

Yoga can improve the emotional health of breast cancer patients, contends a new U.S. study. "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," lead researcher Suzanne Danhauer of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine said in a university news release.

The study involved 44 women with breast cancer. About a third of them were undergoing cancer treatment during the study, and the others had completed their treatment. Half were enrolled in a yoga program, and half were put on a waiting list for the program.

Women in the yoga group participated in 75-minute classes in restorative yoga—a more passive and gentle form of yoga that uses props such as cushions and blankets for support. At the beginning and end of the study, both groups of women completed questionnaires evaluating their quality of life.

After 10 weeks of classes, the yoga participants showed greater improvements in areas of mental health such as depression, positive emotions and spirituality—feeling calm and peaceful—than did the women still waiting to begin the yoga program. The yoga group reported, on average, a 50% reduction in feelings of depression and a 12% increase in feelings of peace and meaning. Yoga participants also reported less fatigue than the others, the study found.