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Int J Yoga Therap. 2016 Jan;26(1):55-72.

Group-Based Yogic Weight Loss with Ayurveda-Inspired Components: A Pilot Investigation of Female Yoga Practitioners and Novices.

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1. University of Connecticut, Department of Psychology, Storrs, CT.
2. Emory University, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Atlanta, GA.
3. Harvard Medical School, Osher Research Center, Department of Biomedicine, Boston, MA.
4. New England School of Acupuncture, Newton, MA.



Overweight/obesity is a pressing international health concern and conventional treatments demonstrate poor long-term efficacy. Preliminary evidence suggests yoga and Ayurveda may be promising approaches, although recent NHIS estimates indicate rare utilization of Ayurveda in the US. Group-based curricula that integrate yoga and Ayurveda-inspired principles to attenuate overweight and obesity across individuals may prove a feasible, disseminable clinical adjunct to facilitate psychosocial health and weight loss and/or maintenance.


Determine feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of a ten-week yoga - based, Ayurveda-inspired weight management curriculum (YWL) piloted in female yoga practitioners (Study 1) then refined and tailored for yoga naïves (Study 2), on self-reported psychosocial process variables and % of self-reported total body weight loss (%TBWL).


Study 1 enrolled 22 yoga-experienced women (48.2 ± 14.3 years, BMI 30.8 ± 4.2 kg/m2) in a 10-week yoga-based program (YWL-YE). Study 2 enrolled 21 yoga- naïve women (49.4 ± 10.7 years, BMI 35.5 ± 6.8 kg/m2) in a revised 10-week program (YWL-YN). Self-reported weight and self-ratings of mindful eating behavior, body image disturbance, weight loss self-efficacy, body awareness, and self-compassion were collected at baseline, post-treatment (T2), and 3-month follow- up (T3).


YWL curricula was feasible in both studies. While attrition rates for both studies favorably compared to other weight management studies, attrition was higher for YWL-YN (28.6%) than YWL-YE (18.2%). In both studies, self-reported process variables and self-reported % TBWL changed in hypothesized directions at T2 and evidenced greater improvement at T3; effect sizes across all process variables were medium (-0.4) to large (-1.8). % TBWL reached clinical significance (>5%) only at T3 for the YWL-YE group.


The YWL curricula employed here appear to improve psychosocial health among both overweight/obese yoga-experienced and yoga- naïve women. Results must be interpreted with caution due to study design, self-report assessments, and other limitations. Nonetheless, hypotheses are generated for future investigation.


Ayurveda; Yoga; mindfulness; obesity; self-compassion; weight loss

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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