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Glob Adv Health Med. 2013 Jan;2(1):44-9. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2013.2.1.008.

Yoga in the Real World: Perceptions, Motivators, Barriers, and patterns of Use.

Author information

1
Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
2
Boston Medical Center, United States.
3
Yoga Yoga, LLC, Austin, Texas, United States.
4
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States.

Abstract

in English, Chinese, Spanish

BACKGROUND:

Yoga is a mind-body exercise practiced by nearly 16 million US adults. Clinical yoga research has yielded promising findings in physical and mental health outcomes. However, research in non-patient populations is limited. The purpose of this study is to survey a non-clinical population to better understand yoga use in a real-world setting.

METHODS:

This study used a pre-post test design in a convenience sample of adults registered for a 4-week beginner yoga program within a network of five yoga studios in Austin, Texas. Students were linked via e-mail to baseline and endpoint surveys. Analyses were descriptive.

RESULTS:

Six hundred four students completed the baseline survey, and 290 (48%) completed the 4-week endpoint survey. Baseline demographics were similar to those in national surveys, with respondents being primarily female (86%), white (88%), and college educated (78%). The primary barrier to practice was time (55%). Respondents perceived yoga primarily as an exercise activity (92%), spiritual activity (73%), or a way to manage or treat a health condition (50%). Main reasons for taking yoga were general wellness (81%), physical exercise (80%), and stress management (73%). Ninety-eight percent believed yoga would improve their health, with 28% taking yoga to alleviate a health condition. On average, respondents practiced 3 to 4 hours/ week in and out of class.

CONCLUSIONS:

Respondent demographics were consistent with national survey data. Data show that yoga is perceived several ways. Information on practice patterns provides new information, which may improve understanding of how non-clinical populations incorporate yoga into daily life for health management.

KEYWORDS:

Yoga; back pain; exercise; mental health; motivations; patterns of use; quality of life; sleep; spirituality; stress; wellness

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