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Perceived mechanisms of change in therapeutic yoga targeting psychological distress

Harvey, Rebecca, Andriopoulou, Panoraia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5745-6741 and Grogan, Sarah ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7510-765X (2020) Perceived mechanisms of change in therapeutic yoga targeting psychological distress. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 24 (1). pp. 274-280. ISSN 1360-8592

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Introduction This study was designed to investigate yoga teachers’ and yoga therapists’ perceptions of the ways yoga is applied to treat symptoms of psychological distress, and identify the defining features, main components, and mechanisms of change in therapeutic practice. Methods A qualitative design was employed. Six yoga teachers who had specific training and experience in teaching therapeutic yoga or practicing ‘yoga therapy’ took part in one-to-one interviews during which they gave accounts of their experiences of helping people cope with psychological distress through yoga. Participants’ interviews were transcribed verbatim and were analysed using an integrative inductive-deductive thematic analysis. Results Four key themes were identified in relation to the benefits of therapeutic yoga: Awareness, Choice, Relationships, and Tailoring. Conclusions The findings support previous research which suggests that individualised yoga therapy is a promising intervention, and may help to form a theoretical rationale for the future treatment of psychological distress with yoga.

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