Pilot evaluation of an Iyengar yoga program for breast cancer survivors

Cancer Nurs. 2010 Sep-Oct;33(5):369-81. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181cfb55a.


Background: With continual improvements in screening uptake and adjuvant cancer treatments, the number of Canadian women surviving breast cancer continues to grow. Preliminary findings suggest yoga can improve quality of life (QoL) in breast cancer survivors, but few studies have focused on Iyengar yoga (IY).

Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the impact of IY on QoL and psychosocial functioning in a select sample of breast cancer survivors.

Methods: Breast cancer survivors (N = 24) participating in IY classes completed a questionnaire measuring generic and disease-specific QoL and psychosocial functioning, before and after the 12-week classes.

Results: Postprogram questionnaires were completed by 17 participants (71%) who attended an average of 78.9% of the IY sessions. Several indicators of generic QoL improved significantly, including mental health (mean change, +4.2; P = .045), vitality (mean change, +4.9; P = .033), role-emotional (mean change, +6.4; P = .010), and bodily pain (mean change, +4.4; P = .024). Other improvements in QoL and psychosocial functioning were meaningful but were not statistically significant. Findings were further substantiated by participant's evaluation of the program's benefits and motivational value.

Conclusion: In this pilot study of breast cancer survivors participating in IY, we found improvements in QoL and psychosocial functioning. Moreover, positive program evaluation and motivational profile provide support for the acceptability of IY with breast cancer survivors. Randomized controlled trials comparing IY to usual care and other forms of yoga in breast cancer survivors are warranted.

Implications for practice: Nurses may consider IY as a possible intervention strategy to help breast cancer survivors improve their QoL and psychosocial functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Canada
  • Curriculum
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Analysis
  • Yoga*