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Minding the body: Yoga, embodiment, and well-being

Abstract

The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a dramatic influx of yoga into the West. Hatha yoga is a movement-based form of relaxation and meditation that combines physical postures, exercises, and breathing techniques. The current study examined the potential of yoga to buffer against the harmful effects of self-objectification as well as to promote embodiment (i.e., body awareness and responsiveness) and well-being in a sample of 19 participants enrolled in a 2-month yoga immersion program. Participants completed a short survey at six time points during the yoga immersion. Results showed thatthe women in the study objectified their own bodies less after participation in the program. Furthermore, among both men and women, more frequent yoga practice was associated with increased body awareness, positive affect, and satisfaction with life, as well as decreased negative affect. Policy implications are discussed, particularly the importance of teaching yoga in schools.

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Correspondence to Emily A. Impett.

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Impett, E.A., Daubenmier, J.J. & Hirschman, A.L. Minding the body: Yoga, embodiment, and well-being. Sex Res Soc Policy 3, 39–48 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1525/srsp.2006.3.4.39

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Key words

  • body image
  • Eastern philosophy
  • alternative therapy
  • objectification theory
  • mental health