Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition associated with recurrent abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. It is particularly pernicious to youth, who may withdraw from life tasks due to pain, diarrhea, and/or fear of symptoms. Emotional stress exacerbates IBS symptoms, and mind-body interventions may be beneficial. In this mixed-methods study of 18 teens aged 14 to 17 years undertaking a 6-week Iyengar yoga intervention, we aimed to identify treatment responders and to explore differences between responders and nonresponders on a range of quantitative outcomes and qualitative themes related to yoga impact, goodness of fit, and barriers to treatment. Half of the teens responded successfully to yoga, defined as a clinically meaningful reduction in abdominal pain. Responders differed from nonresponders on postintervention quantitative outcomes, including reduced abdominal pain, improved sleep, and increased visceral sensitivity. Qualitative outcomes revealed that responders reported generalized benefits early in treatment and that their parents were supportive and committed to the intervention. Responders and nonresponders alike noted the importance of home practice to achieve maximal, sustained benefits. This study reveals the need for developmentally sensitive yoga programs that increase accessibility of yoga for all patients.
Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) remains a terminal illness for which major treatment advances are slow to appear, and hence it is crucial that effective palliative interventions be developed to reduce the cancer-related symptoms of women with this condition during the remaining years of their lives. This pilot/feasibility study examined a novel, yoga-based palliative intervention, the Yoga of Awareness Program, in a sample of women with MBC. The eight-week protocol included gentle yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation, didactic presentations, and group interchange. Outcome was assessed using daily measures of pain, fatigue, distress, invigoration, acceptance, and relaxation during two preintervention weeks and the final two weeks of the intervention. Thirteen women completed the intervention (mean age=59; mean time since diagnosis=7 years; two African American, 11 Caucasian). During the study, four participants had cancer recurrences, and the physical condition of several others deteriorated noticeably. Despite low statistical power, pre-to-post multilevel outcomes analyses showed significant increases in invigoration and acceptance. Lagged analyses of length of home yoga practice (controlling for individual mean practice time and outcome levels on the lagged days) showed that on the day after a day during which women practiced more, they experienced significantly lower levels of pain and fatigue, and higher levels of invigoration, acceptance, and relaxation. These findings support the need for further investigation of the effects of the Yoga of Awareness Program in women with MBC.