Researchers have found that combining centuries-old practice of yoga with nutrition education can help young cancer patients manage their disease today and lay the foundation for a healthy future.
Departments of Clinical Nutrition and Rehabilitation Services have created a program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that focuses on all of the benefits of yoga, which include balance, coordination, a decrease in pain and improving quality of life.
Jessica Sparrow, an occupational therapist trained in providing yoga for children, at the rehabilitation services said that having this special combination of yoga and nutrition as a service provided for patients is a true complement to treatment.
“Our ultimate goal is that they take this practice into their everyday lives—like breathing exercises to help with anxiety and pain,” Sparrow said. “We intend to monitor the outcomes and track the progress as evidence-based research to not only improve upon existing knowledge at St. Jude, but also to share with others.”
Sparrow worked with Danielle Doria, also of Rehabilitation Services, and Karen Smith of Clinical Nutrition to create the program’s outline. After each yoga session, patients get a lesson on healthy eating, which often includes a hands-on demonstration from a St. Jude chef.
The combination program has been successful, with many of the patients using basic poses at home or even in the hospital’s hallways.