Objective: The Africa Yoga Project (AYP) trains and funds Kenyans to teach community yoga classes. Preliminary research with a small sample of AYP teachers suggested the program had a positive impact. This study used concept mapping to explore the experiences of a larger sample.
Methods: Participants brainstormed statements about how practicing and/or teaching yoga changed them. They sorted statements into self-defined piles and rated them in terms of perceived importance. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) of sort data calculated statement coordinates wherein each statement is placed in proximity to other statements as a function of how frequently statements are sorted together by participants. These results are then and mapped in a two-dimensional space. Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) of these data identified clusters (i.e., concepts) among statements. Cluster average importance ratings gave the concept map depth and indicated concept importance. Bridging analysis and researchers' conceptual understanding of yoga literature facilitated HCA interpretive decisions.
Results: Of 72 AYP teachers, 52 and 48 teachers participated in brainstorming and sorting/rating activities, respectively. Teachers brainstormed 93 statements about how they had changed. The resultant MDS statement map had adequate validity (stress value = .29). HCA created a 12-cluster solution with the following concepts of perceived change: Identity as a Yoga Teacher; Prosocial Development; Existential Possibility; Genuine Positive Regard; Value and Respect for Others (highest importance); Presence, Acceptance, and Competence; Service and Trust; Non-judgment and Emotion Regulation (lowest importance); Engagement and Connection; Interpersonal Effectiveness; Psychosocial Functioning; and Physical Competence and Security.
Conclusions: Teachers perceived the AYP as facilitating change across physical, mental, and spiritual domains. Additional research is needed to quantify and compare this change to other health promotion program outcomes.