Yoga and the experience of embodiment: a discussion of possible links

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The impact of yoga on body image and embodiment has been a recent area of focus in the field of body image and eating disorders. This paper comprises a theoretical discussion of how the practice of yoga can lead to positive ways of inhabiting the body, specifically through the lens of the Developmental Theory of Embodiment. Yoga may enhance the overall experience of embodiment, by having a positive impact on each of its five dimensions: body connection and comfort, agency and functionality, attuned self-care, subjective immersion (resisting objectification), and experience and expression of desires. The article therefore describes examples of teacher-related practices during yoga that can enhance each of these dimensions. Further, yoga teachers can consider the varied protective physical and social factors delineated by the Developmental Theory of Embodiment to facilitate positive embodiment. Future research should explicitly integrate embodiment theory with yoga interventions, as well as measures that assess both possible mechanisms of change and positive ways of living in the body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-348
Number of pages19
JournalEating disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work on the Developmental Theory of Embodiment was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Niva Piran (PI) under grant numbers: 410-1999-1370, 410-2003-0280, 410-2007-0630, and 410-2011-0205. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer’s time to write this manuscript was partially supported by Grant number R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis.

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  • Journal Article


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