214270 Mind-Body-Spirit: Exploring Motivations behind Yoga Practice

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brandon Eggleston, PhD MPH CHES , Health Services Program, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN
Amanda E. Tanner, PhD, MPH , Department of Public Health Sciences, University of North Carolina - Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Background: Yoga is a mind-body practice that has grown exponentially in the United States over the past 20 years. Yoga, like other forms of physical activity, should be practiced on a regular basis in order to achieve the many benefits. However, little research has been conducted to analyze the psychological and social determinants underscoring individuals' motivations to practice yoga. Methods: To further understand the behavioral determinants associated with yoga, a qualitative study was conducted with individuals who practice yoga from across the United States. Individuals were interviewed and responded to thirty questions related to their yoga practice, health, and demographic characteristics. Interviews were transcribed and transcripts were coded for motivations based on emergent themes. Results: To date 26 the expected 101 individuals have been interviewed and preliminary results have shown that the primary motivating factors for practicing yoga were related to improved mental and emotional health, including feeling relaxed, calm, and centered. Physical health benefits, however, were rarely listed as a primary motivating factor for practicing yoga. Conclusions: Public health professionals can use various strategies for addressing potential barriers to yoga practice, including: 1)educating individuals about what yoga practicing is (not a religious activity), 2)making wellness activities such as yoga a higher priority, and 3)decreasing financial costs related to yoga classes (employers providing free classes on site at the worksite). Overall yoga practice was an activity that improved and maintained multiple dimensions of wellness for participants (not just physical) and may be an ideal complementary tool for many individuals who are diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and manic depression illnesses.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of this session, the participants will be able to: 1. Describe the benefits of practicing yoga. 2. List potential motivating factors for practicing yoga, including mental and emotional health benefits. 3. Discuss specific strategies for increasing yoga practice in their communities.

Keywords: Alternative Medicine/Therapies, Wellness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a certified health education specialist (CHES). I am also a registered yoga teacher (RYT) in addition to having a master's and doctoral degree in public health/health behavior.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.