Restorative yoga for women with breast cancer: findings from a randomized pilot study

Psychooncology. 2009 Apr;18(4):360-8. doi: 10.1002/pon.1503.


Objectives: Restorative yoga (RY) is a gentle type of yoga that may be beneficial for cancer patients and post-treatment survivors. Study goals were: to determine the feasibility of implementing a RY intervention for women with breast cancer; and to examine group differences in self-reported emotional, health-related quality of life, and symptom outcomes.

Methods: Women with breast cancer (n=44; mean age 55.8 years) enrolled in this study; 34% were actively undergoing cancer treatment. Study participants were randomized to the intervention (10 weekly 75-minute RY classes) or a waitlist control group. Participants completed questionnaires at Week 0 (baseline) and Week 10 (immediately post-intervention for the yoga group).

Results: Group differences favoring the yoga group were seen for mental health, depression, positive affect, and spirituality (peace/meaning). Significant baseline*group interactions were observed for negative affect and emotional well-being. Women with higher negative affect and lower emotional well-being at baseline derived greater benefit from the yoga intervention compared to those with similar values at baseline in the control group. The yoga group demonstrated a significant within-group improvement in fatigue; no significant difference was noted for the control group.

Conclusions: Although limited by sample size, these pilot data suggest potential benefit of RY on emotional outcomes and fatigue in cancer patients. This study demonstrates that a RY intervention is feasible for women with breast cancer; implications for study design and implementation are noted with an emphasis on program adoption and participant adherence.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Yoga*