“Yoga of Awareness” for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients

A study published in the Journal of Pain & Symptom Management found that Jim and Kimberly Carson’s Yoga of Awareness program helped women with metastatic breast cancer manage pain and other symptoms.

The 8-week study consisted of thirteen female patients with metastatic breast cancer (breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body). The Yoga for Awareness program contained gentle yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation and group discussions on pain and symptom management. Every day, the women rated their daily level of symptoms like pain, fatigue, sadness, as well as positive emotions like energy, acceptance and relaxation. The study found that the women’s overall energy and acceptance had increased by the end of the program, and that they reported lower instances of physical symptoms like pain and fatigue on the days after they practiced yoga. Although several patients’ cancer worsened during the course of the study, no participant experienced yoga-related injuries or discomfort.

Yoga of Awareness is intended to complement ongoing medical treatment, and focuses on helping patients connect more fully with their “inner resources” to cope with physical and emotional difficulties. The program aims to help patients “live skillfully” as they “find their balance and keep their poise amidst the tumult of life’s ever-changing challenges.” Classes consist of hatha yoga and meditation techniques.

Metastatic is a serious and terminal illness for which major treatments have yet to appear. Yoga of Awareness is not intended to cure the disease, but, rather, to alleviate patients’ discomfort from cancer-related symptoms and improve their quality of life. These promising results of the Pain & Symptom Management study show that more research into the effects of yoga for cancer patients is necessary and can help improve their overall well-being.

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