DOI: 10.4103/ijoy.ijoy_191_23 ISSN: 0973-6131

Yoga and Mental Well-being: A Qualitative Exploration of the Lived Experiences of Yoga Practitioners

Suzanne Vogler, Rachel Elizabeth Salyer, Peter R. Giacobbi
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy



Participation in yoga has increased dramatically amongst all demographic groups in recent decades. While studies have explored the physical and mental benefits of yoga, few have focused on the lived experiences of those practicing yoga and why they continue their involvement.


The purpose of this study was to assess practitioners’ views about the impact of yoga on mental well-being and explore how these benefits may support their continued practice.

Settings and Design:

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 individuals, the majority identified as female (M age = 44.25, standard deviation = 11.80). The majority of participants were White (86.36%) and had practiced yoga for an average of 8–10 years (40.91%).


A pragmatic qualitative approach was taken that included the adoption of a constructivist, narrative, meaning-making ontology, hermeneutic epistemology, and interpretivist axiology. Interviews were conducted on Zoom, recorded, and transcribed verbatim.

Analysis Used:

Interviews were coded independently by two team members following reflexive thematic analysis procedures.


Two major themes, structural and functional components, covered the five main subthemes that explained why yoga was beneficial for mental well-being and highlighted the self-sustaining nature of yoga practice: (1) the yoga environment, (2) personnel, (3) strengthening of mind and body during practice, (4) transfer of skills, and (5) giving back. The practitioners described how their yoga journeys supported their mental well-being and encouraged the long-term maintenance of their yoga practices. A conceptual model will be presented that incorporates the major themes and provides an explanation of why practitioners continue to practice yoga.


This study provides insight into how yoga’s mental well-being benefits affect adherence, and ultimately, informs our understanding of yoga as a self-sustaining practice.

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