Article

Moving beyond health to flourishing: the effects of yoga teacher training.

Osher Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
The Scientific World Journal (Impact Factor: 1.22). 01/2010; 10:788-95. DOI: 10.1100/tsw.2010.87
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Research in the medical and psychological fields has primarily followed a "disease-focused" approach to health. Although there is growing research on the components and outcomes of well-being, very few studies have focused on traditional practices that can be used as interventions to encourage human flourishing. The current study was developed to address this research gap. We suggest one effective method of increasing psychological well-being, the practice of yoga, an age-old practice that has been said to produce physical and psychological health. In this observational study, we examined associations with participation in a 4-week yoga teacher training resident program. Measurement instruments were chosen to capture changes in psychosocial health and human flourishing. Measurements were taken before the start of the program, immediately after the program, and 3 months postprogram. As expected, in this healthy population, the human flourishing scales showed more change than the psychosocial health scales. For example, in this healthy sample, there were no significant changes in perceived social support, quality of life, or self-efficacy from baseline to the 3-month follow-up. However, optimism, a positive psychology research measure, improved from baseline to follow-up. The mindfulness subscales of observation, awareness, and nonreactivity all improved following the training, suggesting that one benefit of yoga practice is a more refined ability to attend to one's inner experience. This study adds to the growing literature focusing on interventions that move beyond relieving pathology to those that produce optimal functioning and human thriving.

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