Abstract

Yoga interventions are heterogeneous and vary along multiple dimensions. These dimensions may affect mental and physical health outcomes in different ways or through different mechanisms. However, most studies of the effects of yoga on health do not adequately describe or quantify the components of the interventions being implemented. This lack of detail prevents researchers from making comparisons across studies and limits our understanding of the relative effects of different aspects of yoga interventions. To address this problem, we developed the Essential Properties of Yoga Questionnaire (EPYQ), which allows researchers to objectively characterize their interventions. We present here the reliability and validity data from the final phases of this measure-development project. Analyses identified fourteen key dimensions of yoga interventions measured by the EPYQ: acceptance/compassion, bandhas, body awareness, breathwork, instructor mention of health benefits, individual attention, meditation and mindfulness, mental and emotional awareness, physicality, active postures, restorative postures, social aspects, spirituality, and yoga philosophy. The EPYQ demonstrated good reliability, as assessed by internal consistency and test-retest reliability analysis, and evidence suggests that the EPYQ is a valid measure of multiple dimensions of yoga. The measure is ready for use by clinicians and researchers. Results indicate that, currently, trained objective raters should score interventions to avoid reference frame errors and potential rating bias, but alternative approaches may be developed. The EPYQ will allow researchers to link specific yoga dimensions to identifiable health outcomes and optimize the design of yoga interventions for specific conditions.

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