This information describes the common uses of Yoga, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name


How It Works

Studies have shown that yoga can be helpful for patients with irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, diabetes, migraine headaches, depression, and anxiety. It is also practiced for weight maintenance. Cancer survivors including those recently diagnosed report better sleep, less stress, and improved mood and quality of life with the practice of yoga. Among less active cancer survivors, a restorative yoga practice may be easier to maintain, and also have benefits. Regular practice also increases benefits.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO) recommend yoga for anxiety, stress reduction, depression, mood disturbance, and improved quality of life in cancer patients.

Purported Uses

  • Anxiety
    Many different types of studies indicate that yoga can reduce anxiety.
  • Depression
    Some studies have linked yoga to reduced depression and more positive mood.
  • Breathing difficulty
    Small studies show that yoga may help problems such as shortness of breath and anxiety in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. More studies are needed.
  • Fatigue
    A study found that yoga can help reduce fatigue and improve vigor in breast cancer survivors.
  • Hot flashes
    Small studies show that yoga may be effective in cancer patients who have hot flashes and related symptoms.
  • Pain
    Yoga was shown in some studies to relieve pain.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
    Several yoga programs for survivors of war and natural disasters show it may be possible to use this practice in certain populations with post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Sleep quality and sleep medication use
    A large study of a specific yoga program showed improved sleep quality and less sleep medication use in cancer survivors with sleep problems.
  • Stress
    Several studies support use of yoga to reduce stress.