Yoga and Meditation in Cancer Care

A recent development in my work has been the extension of yoga therapeutics to cancer care. I am a graduate of the Yoga of Awareness for Cancer training at the Duke University Center for Integrative Medicine. This program has prepared me to work with people living with cancer and cancer survivors.  Research studies at Duke University Medical Center show that yoga and meditation help decrease pain, fatigue, hot flashes, insomnia, and negativity and increase energy, acceptance, and relaxation. Yoga of Awareness for Cancer teaches essential elements of the ancient tradition of yoga – including meditation, breathing, postures, and self-study – in a context that is informed by modern, evidence-based medicine.

One of the studies that examined the impact of this novel intervention in a sample of metastatic breast cancer patients found that the more time patients devoted to their yoga and meditation practice, the lower their level of pain and the more relaxed and invigorated they felt—both immediately after their practice and on the next day. They also experienced a greater degree of acceptance. That is, they were less likely to deplete their energy by struggling to resist what was happening to them.

In this therapeutic work, you learn specific techniques for understanding and coping with the mind’s contributions to stress, tension, and anxiety.  Yoga and meditation can give you ways of calming the mind, letting go, and riding the waves of your fears rather than battling them.  It can help you discover the relationship between the waves of the breath and the waves of thought and give you access to the inner, healing stillness that will enable you to maintain balance even amidst the tumult of life’s ever-changing challenges.