An Exploration of Experiences of Yoga Practice and Eating Disorders from the Perspective of Women with a History of Eating Disorders

Prof Doc Thesis

Lose, Anna 2016. An Exploration of Experiences of Yoga Practice and Eating Disorders from the Perspective of Women with a History of Eating Disorders. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsLose, Anna
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Objectives: The existing literature demonstrates a need for more effective treatments and support for people diagnosed with “eating disorders”. The limited research available demonstrates the potential for yoga to be helpful as a treatment for “eating disorders”. However, only one study investigated people’s experiences of yoga and “eating disorders”, and none looked at the aspects of yoga that people may find more or less helpful. This study aimed to explore women’s experiences of yoga practice in relation to their experiences of “eating disorders”, with the hope of identifying such aspects.
Methods: 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted with women with a history and current experience of “eating disorders” (Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa), 6 of whom were trained as yoga teachers, and 6 were practicing yoga regularly during their journey to recovery. Average age of participants was 27 years. Duration of yoga practice ranged from 1 to 21 years. The transcripts were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.
Results: Two superordinate themes were identified, with participants describing a joint journey between their ED and yoga practice, ways through which yoga may be helpful for achieving a better mind-body connection, such as through mindfulness, spirituality and related principles; as well as noting ways through which yoga may potentially be unhelpful to those experiencing EDs, such as when ED manifests in the practice, or if yoga becomes another manifestation of ED in the form of excessive exercise, or when yoga industry and the current presentation of yoga negatively influences individual’s practice.
Conclusions: This study provides insights about potential mechanisms through which yoga could be helpful or detrimental for those experiencing “eating disorders”. The clinical and research implications are discussed. It is hoped that the findings will contribute to the development of more effective and client-accepted ways of supporting people with “eating disorders”.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintMay 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Nov 2016
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