An Exploratory Study of the Acceptability and Feasibility of Yoga Among Women in Substance Use Disorder Recovery

J Altern Complement Med. 2021 Mar;27(3):273-281. doi: 10.1089/acm.2020.0351. Epub 2020 Dec 29.


Objectives: This qualitative study explored the acceptability and feasibility of yoga among women in substance use disorder (SUD) recovery. Design: Seventeen women in SUD recovery for 2 weeks or longer were recruited from nine sites in the mid-South, including a Medication-Assisted Treatment clinic in a hospital setting, prison re-entry housing, community-based peer support organizations (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous [AA], Narcotics Anonymous [NA]), a residential SUD treatment facility, a yoga teachers' online group, and through referrals. The median age of participants was 41.5, with ages ranging from 25 to 65. We used an interpretive description approach to explore both the perceptions of women without yoga experience and the experiences of women with yoga experience to collect formative data for intervention development and implementation. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. A hybrid analysis (i.e., inductive and deductive coding) was applied to the data. Results: Women's narratives included a high prevalence of trauma exposure. Overall, women in this sample were interested in either beginning or continuing yoga. Barriers to participation included perceived lack of self-efficacy of yoga, weight, and physical injuries. Additional environmental barriers included balancing care of self with caring for others, including partners, children, and NA/AA sponsees; as well as prioritizing finances, housing, employment, and transportation. Conclusion: High prevalence of trauma exposure among women in SUD recovery necessitates careful consideration of co-occurring psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression and the necessary professional psychological support, as well as serious physical injuries that require modification in yoga āsana classes. As transportation and balancing care needs were salient in these data, rural SUD populations could be served with telehealth interventions that provide SUD recovery support with integrative health practices such as adjunctive yoga interventions.

Keywords: addictions; mind-body; public health; qualitative research; yoga.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Yoga*