Metastatic breast cancer remains a terminal illness for which major treatment advances are slow to appear. Hence it is crucial that effective supportive interventions be developed to reduce the cancer-related symptoms of women with this condition during the remaining years of their lives. This small pilot study examined the effects of the Mindful Yoga approach in a sample of women with metastatic breast cancer.

The 8-week protocol included gentle yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation, didactic presentations, and group interchange. Outcome was assessed before the program and at the end of the program using daily measures of pain, fatigue, distress, vigor, acceptance, and relaxation. Thirteen women completed the intervention (mean age = 59; mean time since diagnosis = 7 years; 2 African American, 11 Caucasian). During the study 4 participants had cancer recurrences, and several others’ physical condition deteriorated noticeably, yet none of the women experienced yoga-related adverse events .

Analyses of before-to-after changes showed significant increases in vigor and acceptance. Analyses examining length of home yoga practice showed that on days when women practiced more, on the next day they experienced significantly lower levels of pain and fatigue, and higher levels of vigor, acceptance, and relaxation. These findings support the need for further investigation of the effects of the Mindful Yoga program in women with metastatic breast cancer.

This study was published in Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 2007.

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