Abstract

Many people are drawn to yoga for its potential health benefits. With its rising popularity, yoga could become a widely used public health intervention, but its success depends on finding evidence-based yoga practices that are acceptable and feasible for a large segment of the population. Complexity and variability create barriers to the adoption and maintenance of yoga practices. In an effort to improve the study, adoption, and maintenance of therapeutic practices used in the context of public health interventions, we introduce the concept of “yoga kernels,” defined as discrete, evidence-based yoga practices that are amenable to scientific study and can be effectively disseminated as a public health intervention. Yoga is reviewed from the standpoint of a public health intervention using the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation and Maintenance (RE-AIM) model. This model is designed to improve the successful adoption and maintenance of generalizable, evidence-based interventions. In response to the challenges to the adoption and maintenance of yoga practices, we propose that a potentially fruitful direction for yoga research is moving away from studying yoga classes to studying specific yoga practices that are simpler and easier for the general public to use. Yoga kernels could be a unifying concept to identify therapeutic uses of yoga and help people adopt and maintain these practices as part of a systematic public health strategy.

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