Two new studies have found that yoga can help cancer survivors sleep better and improve their quality of life. Fatigue, stress, and insomnia are common problems for many cancer survivors, but many doctors in Dallas and elsewhere may feel uncomfortable prescribing alternative therapies such as yoga after chemotherapy and radiation-- in part because of a lack of scientific studies on the benefits of yoga for cancer patients, even though health benefits of yoga in general are well known. These findings are good news for cancer survivors living in Dallas, especially since North Texas has a higher than average rate of breast cancer diagnoses.
The YOCAS yoga study, presented by Karen Mustian, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of radiation oncology and community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, involved 410 cancer survivors, about 75% of which were breast cancer survivors. All of the patients in the study had poor quality sleep, fatigue and a resulting poor quality of life at the beginning of the study. Half the patients were enrolled in a four week yoga program, attending classes two times a week. All patients recieved "the usual" care and support given to cancer survivors after chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
At the end of the study, the patients in the yoga group had improved their sleep by 22%, as opposed to only a 12% improvement among the non-yoga control group. Fatigue was reduced and quality of life improved markedly among the cancer survivors who participated in the yoga program. Patients who attended yoga classes cut their use of OTC and prescription sleep medications by an average of 21%; cancer survivors in the no-yoga group used 5% more sleep medication on average.
Dr. Mustian noted that the yoga for cancer survivors program followed was specific to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Cancer survivors in other parts of the country, including the Dallas Metroplex, who are "looking for this kind of benefit should probably look for gentle Hatha or restorative yoga taught by a well-qualified instructor registered with the Yoga Alliance," she said.
The University of Rochester YOCAS yoga study will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting on June 5, 2010
A second study, led by R. M. Raghavendra of the HCG Bangalore Institute of Oncology, Bangalore, India looked at the effect of yoga on fatigue, insomnia and levels of the stress hormone cortisol on 66 breast cancer survivors. That study also found that yoga reduced fatigue, improved sleep quantity and quality and lowered perceived stress and cortisol levels among cancer survivors. The study will also be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, at a session to be held June 7, 2010
Go local! Where to find budget yoga classes in the Dallas Metroplex.
The Dallas Metroplex is fortunate to have a variety of yoga studios offering a variety of yoga classes in every price range. Cancer treatment is stressful-- and expensive-- enough without having to worry about paying for yoga classes. Dirt Cheap Yoga and Karmany Yoga are two Dallas yoga centers that can help.
Dirt Cheap Yoga is, well, dirt cheap. Don't be fooled at the bargain pricing, however; the yoga instuctors are all top notch. Classes are held at Dallas County Parks and Recreation centers, so you will need to purchase a Dallas Parks & Rec membership, which is a bargain at $15 per year for Dallas residents, $25 for non-residents. Dirt Cheap Yoga is expanding; they currently offer budget friendly yoga class at four locations in Dallas, including their newest outpost in Oak Cliff. See the Dirt Cheap Yoga website index.htm for details.
Karmany Yoga is donation based, on the principal that yoga should be available to everyone regardless of means or skill level. Karmany provides suggested prices based on the number of yoga classes you attend each week, but if you cannot afford the suggested price, it is OK to pay what you can. Karmany Yoga, 5014 McKinney Avenue, Dallas, TX 75205.
Finally, many Dallas area yoga studios and hospital affiliated programs offer yoga for breast cancer survivors, although it is doubtful whether your health insurance will cover it at this time. Ask your doctor if she can recommend a local yoga program for cancer survivors.
Make health and wellness a trend in your own life! Subscribe to the Dallas Healthy Trends Examiner for the latest health buzz, fitness trends, the scoop on alternative medicine and wellness, healthy recipes and diet tips. I welcome your feedback! Please feel free to leave a comment below (no registration necessary) or send me an email with your questions and suggestions.