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Elements of yogic practice: Perceptions of students in healthcare programs
International journal of yoga
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2016
Pages: 121 - 129
Source ID: shanti-sources-33121
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The practice of yoga has a long history as an integrated lifestyle science. Those who have practiced yoga in its full form (including all eight traditional aspects) find that it touches almost every aspect of their inter- and intra-personal lives. Despite this rich history, the West has adopted limited aspects of yoga practice. When understood narrowly as a physical fitness practice, healthful benefits of yoga may be lost, possibly promoting body-consciousness and injury instead. AIM: To understand whether students in healthcare programs view yoga from a physical fitness versus holistic perspective, we explored perceptions of what constitute yoga's essential practices. METHODS: We assessed endorsement of the eight limbs of yoga via the acceptability of yoga survey. The sample (n = 498) was recruited from programs in 10 healthcare professions at a Northwestern university. Participants were categorized as nonyogis, contemplators, yogis, and superyogis. RESULTS: Across all groups, findings confirmed a narrow definition of yoga as portrayed in popular media and gym-based yoga classes. Breathing and posture practices were the most commonly endorsed practices, even among the sample's most seasoned yoga practitioners. Ethical practices and daily commitments of introspection, disciplined practice, or living with purity were least commonly associated with yoga despite their foundational nature in yoga philosophy. Concentration and meditation practices were only moderately endorsed as essential practices. Super-yogis endorsed a wider variety of limbs than nonyogis, contemplators, and yogis. CONCLUSIONS: We offer a rationale for these findings along with recommendations that may help augment the definition of yoga and hence maximize its benefits.