Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 1861–1870 | Cite as

Cancer patients’ experiences with and perceived outcomes of yoga: results from focus groups

  • C. F. van Uden-Kraan
  • M. J. M Chinapaw
  • C. H. C. Drossaert
  • I. M. Verdonck-de Leeuw
  • L. M. Buffart
Original Article



Yoga is a “mind–body” exercise, a combination of physical poses with breathing and meditation, and may have beneficial effects on physical and psychosocial symptoms. We aimed to explore cancer patients’ motives for practicing yoga, experiences of practicing yoga, and perceived physical and psychosocial outcomes.


Participants (n = 45) following yoga classes for cancer patients were asked to participate in focus group interviews, of whom 29 participated. The focus groups (n = 5) were audio taped with prior consent and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed by two coders and independently coded into key issues and themes.


Mean age of the participants was 53.8 (SD 10.8) years, of whom 25 were women, and 18 were diagnosed with breast cancer. Motives for participation in yoga were relaxation, the will to be physically active, the wish to pay more attention to one’s body, coping with psychosocial symptoms, contributing to their cancer rehabilitation process, and combing physical and mental processes. Main physical and psychosocial experiences of yoga mentioned by patients were regaining body awareness, raising attention to the inner self, learning how to relax, enjoyment, and finding recognition and understanding. Increased physical fitness and function, mental strength and resilience, increased coping, being more relaxed, and happiness were frequently mentioned experiences of patients.


Patients with different types of cancer perceived several benefits on physical and psychosocial outcomes by practicing yoga. Therefore, yoga can be a valuable form of supportive care for cancer patients.


Yoga Qualitative research Quality of life Neoplasms Rehabilitation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. F. van Uden-Kraan
    • 1
  • M. J. M Chinapaw
    • 2
  • C. H. C. Drossaert
    • 3
  • I. M. Verdonck-de Leeuw
    • 1
    • 4
  • L. M. Buffart
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Clinical PsychologyVU UniversityAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Public and Occupational Health and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care ResearchVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Health & TechnologyUniversity of TwenteEnschedethe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck SurgeryVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care ResearchVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamthe Netherlands

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