Abstract

The practice of yoga was born in India thousands of years ago and brought to North America gradually beginning in the 20th century. The traditional practice of yoga is spiritual in nature with an intention of purifying the mind and body, leading to an alleviation of suffering through connection with the Divine (i.e., liberation). Yoga has gained widespread popularity in North America, but whether North American yoga practice includes an intention on the purification of the mind-body, in contemporary practice often described as a mind-body connection, has yet to be explored. This research study investigated North American yoga practitioners’ experiences of mind-body connection in their practices. Six yoga practitioners residing in North America were interviewed for this study. Interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed. Phenomenological analysis was conducted to produce the essence data, and thematic analysis was conducted to produce the contextual data. Phenomenological themes regarding the co-researchers’ experiences of mind-body connection in their yoga practices were identified and grouped into four textural essences: (1) the experience of breath, (2) local or internal experiences, (3) an increased sense of awareness and mindfulness, and (4) transcendental and spiritual qualities. Four structural conditions that allow practitioners to experience mind-body connection during yoga practice were identified: (1) breath, (2) physical asana, (3) practitioner intentionality, and (4) environmental conditions. Findings of the current study suggest a capacity for North American yoga practitioners to experience mind-body connection that is essential to traditional yoga practice.

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