Associations of yoga practice, health status, and health behavior among yoga practitioners in Germany—Results of a national cross-sectional survey

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2019, 42 pp. 19 - 26
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© 2018 Background: While yoga can improve health-related variables and health behavior, different yoga styles and practice components appear to be associated with specific health outcomes. The aim of this study was to explore the connection between yoga use, health, and health behaviors across different yoga styles. Methods: A cross-sectional anonymous online survey (n = 1,702; 88.9% female; 93.3% German nationality; mean age 47.2 ± 10.8 years; 58.2% yoga teachers) assessed yoga practice characteristics, health-related variables and health behavior. The survey was distributed in Germany only but not limited to German participants. Results: Ashtanga yoga (15.7%), Hatha yoga (14.2%), and Sivananda yoga (22.4%) were the most commonly practiced yoga styles; participants practiced for a mean of 12.7 ± 10.0 years. Most participants had good to excellent (96.1%) overall health; 87.7% reported improved health since starting yoga. Controlling for sociodemographic and clinical factors, health-related variables were mainly associated with frequency of yoga postures practice (p < 0.05), health behaviors also with yoga philosophy study (p < 0.05). The various yoga styles were associated with specific health-related variables (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Yoga practitioners generally have a good overall health and a healthy lifestyle. While health variables are mainly associated with practice of yoga postures, health behaviors are also associated with the study of yoga philosophy. Yoga interventions targeting prevention or health promotion should include yoga philosophy to modify health behaviors. The specific yoga style employed may also influence health outcomes.
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