Elements of Yogic Practice: Perceptions of Health Professions Students
Yoga in its full and ancient definition – integrating ethics, daily discipline, posture practices, breathing, concentration, meditation, and absorption – can be a vital tool for health professionals to help patients and prevent burnout. Yoga practiced in this way follows the eight limbs of yoga as defined in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali and was emphasized when yoga migrated to the west at the turn of the 20th century. Over 100 years later, yoga practice in the west has increasingly evolved into a physical practice of postures to promote flexibility, strength, and conditioning. When understood narrowly as a physical fitness practice, healthful benefits of yoga may be lost, possibly promoting body-consciousness instead. To understand whether health professional students view yoga from a physical fitness or holistic perspective, this study explored perceptions of what constitute yoga essential practices. We assessed their endorsement of the eight limbs of yoga via the Acceptability of Yoga Survey. The sample (n=498) was recruited from 10 health professions programs at a Northwestern university. Findings revealed a narrow definition of yoga. Students focused on practices most commonly mentioned in popular media and gym-based yoga classes. Breathing and posture practices emerged as the most commonly endorsed practices, even among the seasoned yoga practitioners in the sample. Ethical practices and daily commitments of introspection, disciplined practice, or living with purity were least commonly associated with yoga despite their foundational nature in yoga philosophy. Concentration and meditation practices were only moderately endorsed as being essential yoga practices. Implications are discussed.
Diversity and culture
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health
Assess current perspectives of yoga and whether those perceptions align with the traditional, 8-limbed, practice of yoga.
Discuss how changing perceptions of yoga influence its place within modern healthcare.
Keyword(s): Utilization, Teaching
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified because I am in school for clinical psychology and represent student health professionals. I am also registered as a yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. I have research interests in psychology, mental health, yoga philosophy and interventions. I have contributed to working on the manuscript and developing the poster for this presentation.
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.