Yoga and positive body image: A test of the Embodiment Model

Body Image. 2016 Sep:18:135-42. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.06.008. Epub 2016 Jul 16.


The study aimed to test the Embodiment Model of Positive Body Image (Menzel & Levine, 2011) within the context of yoga. Participants were 193 yoga practitioners (124 Iyengar, 69 Bikram) and 127 university students (non-yoga participants) from Adelaide, South Australia. Participants completed questionnaire measures of positive body image, embodiment, self-objectification, and desire for thinness. Results showed yoga practitioners scored higher on positive body image and embodiment, and lower on self-objectification than non-yoga participants. In support of the embodiment model, the relationship between yoga participation and positive body image was serially mediated by embodiment and reduced self-objectification. Although Bikram practitioners endorsed appearance-related reasons for participating in yoga more than Iyengar practitioners, there were no significant differences between Iyengar and Bikram yoga practitioners on body image variables. It was concluded that yoga is an embodying activity that can provide women with the opportunity to cultivate a favourable relationship with their body.

Keywords: Embodiment model; Embodying activity; Positive body image; Self-objectification; Yoga.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Physical Appearance, Body
  • South Australia
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinness / psychology
  • Yoga / psychology*
  • Young Adult