To avoid severe courses of COVID-19 infections and reduce death rates, vaccination against the SARS-CoV-1 virus was considered an essential strategy in fighting the pandemic. However, some yoga practitioners reject such vaccinations and assume that their yoga practices protect them. We therefore aimed to analyze how many yoga practitioners were vaccinated, their reasons for being vaccinated, and the influence of the ethical principles of yoga (yamas/niyamas) on these decisions. In a cross-sectional survey in summer 2021, we enrolled 1,545 yoga practitioners (86% women; mean age 51.1 ± 10.9 y). The majority of participants were already vaccinated (66%), and their percentage corresponded to that of the general population. Those who were not willing to get vaccinated scored significantly higher on the yama/niyama factors Contentment/Self-Reflection/Devotion and Surrender and Non-Possessiveness. Depending on the centrality of the yamas/niyamas in their lives, yoga participants differed on their vaccination decisions, but they did not relevantly differ on their pro-social reasons (protection of groups at risk, protection of family) when they were already vaccinated. This assumed protection against severe courses of the COVID-19 infection was higher in the nonvaccinated compared to the vaccinated individuals (Cohen’s d = 0.99). This conviction was related to the niyama factor Contentment/Self-Reflection/Devotion and Surrender. Thus, in the yoga schools and other places of yoga practice the relevance of vaccination to also protect others should be discussed, and the consequences of following the yamas and niyamas for the sake of others should be clarified.

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