Windsor researchers study benefits of yoga for breast cancer survivors
Participants will complete 16 yoga sessions over eight weeks
Renée Marentette is part of a new University of Windsor study researching the potential benefits Ashtanga yoga can have for breast cancer survivors.
Despite having support from family and friends, Marentette said she was very lonely and depressed during her chemotherapy treatment.
"I often say I feel like I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz," she told CBC News. "I was just sucked out of my life and dropped into this crazy world of medicine."
Researchers behind the project say there's evidence healthy adults who practice the rigorous, aerobic exercise, see significant improvement in self-esteem and body image.
There have also been signs of reducing depression and anxiety.
Professors Cheri McGowan, Kendall Soucie and Josée Jarry are recruiting breast cancer survivors through the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre.
"Even after treatment, women remain quite anxious, and often depressed and frightened, which continues to strain their relationships," Jarry said. "Ashtanga yoga is built to be a continuous meditative state, through the physical practice."
Chemotherapy harsh on the body
Marentette will be one of the first group of breast cancer survivors to take part in the two-year study. The participants will complete 16 yoga sessions over eight weeks.
During the first part of the study, Jarry will develop a yoga manual suited to the needs of breast cancer survivors some of whom have upper-body scar tissue from mastectomies.
"Just opening their arms can be really difficult," the professor said.
Once a manual is developed it will be used with a second group of cancer survivors to test the effectiveness of the program.
Marentette has already started using yoga as part of her healing.
"It was very difficult in the beginning. It felt like a very big hurdle," she said. "Each time I practiced, I felt stronger. I felt control come back into my life and into my body. The meditation and the breathing just helped calm the nerves."