UOW researchers testing therapeutic values of Ashtanga yoga for breast cancer survivors

Canada’s University of Windsor (UOW) researchers are testing therapeutic values of Ashtanga yoga for survivors of breast cancer.

A two-year study at UOW, jointly by its psychology professors Kendall Soucie and Josée Jarry, and kinesiology professor Cheri McGowan; aims to find out whether Ashtanga yoga benefits breast cancer survivors. They will test how survivors of breast cancer will respond — physically and psychologically — to Ashtanga yoga. It has received $70,000 grant from Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation, according to news published on its website.

The psychological aspect of the study will gauge mental health benefits by surveying participants on increased self-esteem, decreased anxiety and depression, and improved interpersonal relationships. A specialized yoga routine tailored to survivors of breast cancer will be developed, yoga sessions will be filmed and analyzed, and there will be focus groups; it adds.

According to Jarry: The research suggests that when healthy adults practice Ashtanga yoga, there is a significant improvement in self-esteem, body image and interpersonal functioning, as well as a reduction in depression and anxiety.

Survivors of breast cancer who are finished with chemotherapy and radiation treatments and are cleared for light exercise by their doctors may be eligible to participate in this study.

Meanwhile, Hindus have welcomed UOW efforts to explore yoga’s ability to help breast cancer survivors.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self image.  Yoga is the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Rajan Zed adds.

Ashtanga Yoga (eight-limbed yoga) finds mention in Patanjali’s ancient Yoga Sutra, foundational text of yoga. Outer limbs are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara; while inner limbs are dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

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