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Yoga for Cancer Care

By Lisa Marie Bernardo, PhD, MPH, RN
PUBLISHED THURSDAY, JANUARY 1, 1970

Mind-body methods are increasingly being used in cancer treatment, as patients are supplementing standard care with integrative therapies. (Be sure to check out the article “Integrative Medicine and Cancer Treatment” on page 46.) Evidence increasingly suggests that holistic treatment programs help improve patients’ overall quality of life in patients with cancer. 

In this regard, exercise has been acknowledged as an important component of cancer care during and after treatment to promote health and well-being. As an excellent source of exercise and lifestyle management, yoga can be a rich and powerful addition to cancer care. In the past few years, research using yoga and yoga therapy as interventions in patients with cancer has emerged. 

The practice of yoga can be traced back thousands of years to its origins in ancient India. Yoga is traditionally recognized for its physical practice (asana), breathing practices (pranyama), and meditation (dhyana). These practices are most often researched and undertaken to promote health. 

Patients may come to you and other healthcare practitioners asking about yoga, its safety and efficacy, and if yoga practice is right for them. However, unless you are a yoga practitioner yourself, you may not be able to discuss the full scope of a yoga lifestyle with your patients.

To help oncology nurses understand yoga as a lifestyle, apply the current evidence supporting yoga in cancer care, and demonstrate how to practice yoga, I am launching a new blog on OncLive Nursing’s flagship Website, OncLive (www.onclive.com). The blog will be called Yoga for Cancer Care and will replace the Fitness Forum column in 2011. Learning and living yoga will help you become informed about this practice and how it can be used to help your patients. The blog will guide you to obtain the knowledge and skills you need to direct your patients in their yoga journey.

Yoga for Cancer Care will contain both written text and short 2- to 3-minute videos that discuss and demonstrate aspects of yoga practice. Posts on the blog will facilitate dialogue and discussion among oncology nurses, patients, and researchers. 

I am honored and blessed to have had the opportunity to author the Fitness Forum column and hope that oncology nurses found it to be beneficial in their practice. 

Moving forward, dedicating a blog with the singular focus of yoga will help oncology nurses, patients, and families throughout the world. Let us begin 2011 with an open mind and heart as we explore Yoga for Cancer Care. Namaste.

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