Sunday, July 25, 2010


KNOWN AS YOCAS (YOGA FOR CANCER SURVIVORS) - Survivors of cancer who participated in the Yoga for Cancer Survivors (YOCAS) program reported improved sleep, better quality of life and less fatigue compared with survivors who underwent standard care monitoring. The program, designed by Dr. Mustian and colleagues, includes breathing exercises, 18 gentle Hatha and restorative yoga postures, and mindfulness exercises or meditation. The YOCAS classes were 75 minutes long, and participants attended twice a week for 4 weeks. Karen Mustian, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of radiation oncology and community and preventive medicine and at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York told journalists that the cancer survivors who participated in the study were enrolled into a specialized program known as YOCAS (Yoga for Cancer Survivors). “We can state that it is possible that gentle Hatha yoga classes and restorative yoga classes might be useful for cancer survivors for helping reduce these side effects, which create impairment in quality of life,” Dr Mustian added.

Scientists have debated the benefits of yoga for years.
Few previous studies have focused on yoga in cancer patients, and much of the research on yoga has lacked a consistency in techniques, which makes it difficult to determine clear benefit. Dr Mustian and colleagues in Rochester developed and trained Yoga Alliance-certified yoga instructors in particular moves from YOCAS. She believes the breathing, postures and mindfulness components of yoga are to credit for the improvements. “It is also possible that the YOCAS program works through many different biological, psychological and social pathways simultaneously,” she said. Her study was paid for through the National Cancer Institute and the Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Dr Mustian plans to launch a follow-up study examining a home-based yoga program for survivors, which is still in development.

This new yoga teacher training programs offer certified yoga teachers the opportunity to learn about the limitations imposed by cancer and how to modify poses (asanas) using props and how to integrate specific healing movements for common issues, such as lymphedema, fatigue and osteoporosis.

Some Eastern exercise disciplines relate both, the spiritual aspect and the physical aspect, from the very beginning, and this in many cases is reflected in well-being. This is the case of Hatha Yoga, a practice that emphasizes the rigorous and constant physical effort. This allows a person to be well aware of his body and breathing, and by quieting his mind he can “go towards the present moment, forgetting worries and the ‘I have to do’ things; it trains to start leaving the heavy baggage as the concerns and chores of the daily life are, due to stay living in a world where the material prevails, losing our center and the nature of being,” says yoga teacher Monica Mejía. ... The benefits become tangible when you note that the physical body is lighter and the spirit is in constant reassurance.

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