Motives for Participation in Yoga

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Presented at the International Association of Yoga Therapy Sytar Conference, 2007, Los Angeles, CA

A. Wheeler, Ph.D. and T. Statler, Ph.D.

Introduction
Yoga Therapy should be specific to each student’s needs. It is important that the Yoga Therapist or Teacher determine the needs and goals of the student; as opposed to pushing the agenda of the yoga therapist/ teacher onto the student.

Objective
The purpose of this research is to study the wide range of reasons that students decide to participate in yoga. It follows that therapists can learn to begin with the student’s goals, and then allow the process to expand the program to include other tools for healing with time.

Methods
A naturalistic, grounded theory inquiry was the method of investigation chosen for this study. In qualitative research, participants are rarely, if ever selected at random. Participants for this research study consisted of 40 students participating in an introductory yoga classes. Students were instructed to write in detail all of the reasons they had for participating in a yoga class. These written assignments were then content analyzed for recurring themes. During the few days after the assignment was given, the investigators familiarized themselves with the content. In an attempt to further triangulate the lead researcher’s interpretations, the investigator had 2 peer debriefers read the responses and provide comments and interpretations of the data. From these assignments, 57 independent categories specifically addressing reasons for participating in yoga were extrapolated and formed the basis of inductive content analysis. Over 200 quotes served as units of information that could stand alone without need of any further explanation.

Results
There were 57 different motives for taking yoga, ranging from anger management to participating in pop-culture to improved fertility. A majority of the students cited physical reasons for wanting to participate in yoga. However, it is interesting to note that the next most common motives for taking yoga were stress management and psychological benefits.

Discussion
The results of the study suggest that there are a broad range of reasons that student’s take yoga. It is our job as Yoga Therapists/ Teachers to first recognize the student’s goals and motives and then to build the program around the needs of the client.

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