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Empirical research suggests that yoga may positively influence the negative psychosocial and physical side effects associated with cancer and its treatment. The translation of these findings into sustainable, evidence-informed yoga programming for cancer survivors has lagged behind the research. This article provides (a) an overview of the yoga and cancer research, (b) a framework for successfully developing and delivering yoga to cancer populations, and (c) an example of a successful community-based program. The importance of continued research and knowledge translation efforts in the context of yoga and integrative oncology are highlighted.
Objective. A qualitative research methods approach was used to explore the experiences of participants in an ongoing community-based yoga program developed for cancer survivors and their support persons. Methods. 25 participants took part in a series of semistructured focus groups following a seven-week yoga program and at three- and six-month follow-ups. Focus groups were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a process of inductive thematic analysis. Results. The group was comprised of 20 cancer survivors, who were diagnosed on average 25.40 (20.85) months earlier, and five support persons. Participants had completed the yoga program an average of 3.35 (3.66) times previously and attended approximately 1.64 (0.70) of three possible focus groups. Four key themes were identified: (1) safety and shared understanding; (2) cancer-specific yoga instruction; (3) benefits of yoga participation; (4) mechanisms of yoga practice. Conclusions. Qualitative research provides unique and in-depth insight into the yoga experience. Specifically, cancer survivors and support persons participating in a community-based yoga program discussed their experiences of change over time and were acutely aware of the beneficial effects of yoga on their physical, psychological, and social well-being. Further, participants were able to articulate the mechanisms they perceived as underpinning the relationship between yoga and improved well-being as they developed their yoga practice.