Objective: This study was conducted with participants from trials examining the effects of an Iyengar yoga program on cardiovascular disease risk. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the perceived benefits of yoga in a population of older, predominantly overweight adults participating in a gentle 8-week yoga program.
Design: This study used a constructivist-interpretive approach to naturalistic inquiry.
Setting: A total of 42 participants completed the intervention and met the inclusion criteria for the current qualitative study.
Intervention: The 8-week Iyengar yoga program included two 90-min yoga classes and five 30-min home sessions per week. Participants completed weekly logs and an exit questionnaire at the end of the study.
Main outcome measures: Qualitative data from weekly logs and exit questionnaires were compiled and conventional content analysis performed with the use of ATLAS.ti to facilitate the process.
Results: Four broad themes emerged from content analysis: practicing yoga improved overall physical function and capacity (for 83% of participants); practicing yoga reduced stress/anxiety and enhanced calmness (83% of participants); practicing yoga enriched the quality of sleep (21% of participants); and practicing yoga supported efforts toward dietary improvements (14% of participants).
Conclusions: These results suggest that yoga may have ancillary benefits in terms of improved physical function, enhanced mental/emotional state, enriched sleep quality, and improved lifestyle choices, and may be useful as a health promotion strategy in the prevention and management of chronic disease.
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