Yoga Research and Spirituality: A Case Study Discussion

Kimberly R. Middleton, RN, MPH, MS, RYT500,1 Regina Andrade, BA,2 Steffany Haaz Moonaz, PhD, RYT500,3 Charlene Muhammad, MS, RYT500,4 Gwenyth R. Wallen, RN, PhD5

  1. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD, Corresponding author:
  2. Economic Development, Vanderbilt University
  3. Integrative Health Sciences, Maryland University of Integrative Health, Baltimore, MD
  4. Columbia, MD
  5. NIH/Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD


There is growing evidence that yoga can be beneficial as an aspect of self-care for people with arthritis. However, yoga may be less acceptable to those from different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and racial/ethnic identities. While implementing a feasibility/acceptability pilot study of yoga as self-care in minority communities, the subject of spirituality surfaced. This commentary shares the experience of the researchers and yoga teachers collaborating on
the study and the larger conversation that ensued following the withdrawal of one of the study participants. It is an attempt to start a relevant and needed dialogue around yoga research as an integrative health modality, and why the underlying body-mind-spirit approach to yoga may sometimes serve as a barrier to participation for diverse populations suffering from arthritis.

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”
—Carl Sagan


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