The Lived Experiences of Yoga Practice for Female Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Sharma, A. 2021. The Lived Experiences of Yoga Practice for Female Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsSharma, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) permeates all aspects of personhood including the body. There is a surge in the interest in reviewing yoga’s potential usefulness for trauma survivors in clinical trials. However, very little research focuses on women’s perspectives who experienced CSA and have subsequently practised yoga in community settings. This study investigated six women’s lived experiences of yoga practice, mainly focusing on the helpful and unhelpful aspects of yoga that mediated their recovery. Adult women survivors with experience of movement-based yoga in a group setting for at least eight weeks in the last year were recruited. Data were collected using individual, face-to-face, and semi-structured interviews. The transcribed data were analysed using Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) underpinned by constructivist ontology, phenomenological epistemology, and feminist axiology. Three emergent themes were identified- “Coming to yoga”, “Process of becoming” and “Reclaiming life”. Women’s narratives in this study illustrated that they found yoga a useful and resilience-building resource in their journey of healing. With consistent and frequent practice, they reported feeling more present, self-aware, and compassionate towards themselves. Teacher’s qualities such as fostering safety, choice and holistic focus were identified as significant mediating factors that aided this journey, whereas crowded, mixed-gender, and posture-focused practice presented challenges for some respondents. This study has the potential to help Counselling psychologists (CoP), therapists, psychologists, mental health practitioners, yoga teachers, and health professionals involved in the care of the CSA survivors in implementing an evidence-based and holistic approach that facilitates self-directed recovery of CSA survivors. Further research is needed to establish if the benefits and challenges of different aspects of practice apply to the diverse population and its potential usefulness in various phases of recovery. Also, find ways to standardize the yoga practice considering variations in the approach to ensure safe and ethical practice.

KeywordsYoga; Trauma; Child sexual abuse; Women; female
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online23 Nov 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted22 Sep 2021
Deposited24 Nov 2021
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