Most investigations of yoga have focused on brief interventions for defined health conditions. However, little is known about the relationship between a long-term yoga practice and well-being. This quantitative, observational study was designed to investigate the relationship between the extent of yoga experience and psychological wellness, physical wellness, and subjective vitality in 393 women, including 211 yoginis (female yoga practitioners), ages 45 to 80. Participants were recruited through Internet contacts and by word of mouth. Participants completed an online survey consisting of demographic questions and 58 items from five semantic differential scales. Participants had practiced yoga for up to 28 hours per week and for as long as 50 years. Dependent variables included positive psychological attitudes, feelings of transcendence, mental mastery, perceptions of aging and youthfulness, medication usage, and subjective vitality. Hierarchical linear regressions were computed to determine the contribution of yoga experience (including asana , or physical yoga postures) to the dependent variables over and above the contributions of age, education, body mass index, hours of nonyogic exercise per week, levels of processed food consumption, and hours of seated meditation per week. Current frequency of yoga practice in hours per week was the most robust of all yoga measures in predicting positive psychological attitudes (ΔR2=.02, ΔF [1, 361] = 9.28, p=.002), feelings of transcendence (Δ R2=.06, ΔF [1, 384] = 30.38, p<.001), perceptions of aging and youthfulness (ΔR2=.12, ΔF [1, 370] = 67.31, p<.001), and subjective vitality (Δ R2=.03, ΔF [1, 369] = 15.54, p<.001). Extent of yoga experience was shown to have a positive relationship with a range of intercorrelated wellness measures. Findings will be of benefit in disseminating knowledge of the value of yoga for comprehensive wellness. The study is a contribution to gerontological and gender research, as well as to wellness studies. Recommendations for further research include studies of beginning practitioners and those who discontinued the practice. Qualitative investigations are recommended for follow-up research.
|Subjects||Behavioral psychology; Psychology; Clinical psychology; Physiological psychology|
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