Yoga as a psychological intervention: conceptualizations and practice integration of professional psychologist-yoga teachers

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Yoga as a psychological intervention: conceptualizations and practice integration of professional psychologist-yoga teachers

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


Yoga is being increasingly utilized as a mental health intervention in the United States (Kinser, Goehler, & Taylor, 2012; Bennett, Weintraub, & Khalsa, 2008; Khalsa, 2004). However, little research has been done examining yoga through a psychological lens and no prior research has attempted to articulate an initial psychological conceptualization of yoga. In the present study, 14 individuals dually trained as Psychologists (PhD or PsyD) and Registered Yoga Teachers participated in semi-structured telephone interviews to aid in the examination of two primary research questions: (1) How do individuals dually trained as psychologists and yoga teachers conceptualize yoga as a mental health intervention? (2) In what ways do psychologists trained as yoga teachers integrate their dual training into their current professional psychology practice? Interviews were analyzed by a research team of three researchers and two study auditors who employed a modified version of the Consensual Qualitative Research methodology (CQR; Hill et al., 1997; 2005; 2012). Five domains and 15 categories were revealed from the data to address the research questions. The derived domains were Provider Context, Conceptualization Content, Conceptualization Process, Clinical Implications, and Practice Integration. The study found four explicit yoga components to be essential for psychological benefit (in order of prevalence): breath, mindfulness/meditation, relationship with self, and connection with body. Further, three implicit essential components were classified as increased distress tolerance, openness to yoga, and using "mat as metaphor" for life. Disorders identified as benefiting most from a yoga intervention included anxiety-based disorders (including trauma), and eating, substance abuse, and mood disorders. Cautions were expressed related to Axis II and psychosis. The study also found that participants incorporate yoga in some combination of the following: individual therapy breath work, mindfulness and yoga philosophy, group therapy with a yoga component, and workshops. The ideal integration of yoga in traditional mental health was identified as a combination of yoga with traditional therapeutic modalities, a systemic shift toward a more holistic healing paradigm generally, and opportunities to practice in a holistic community of integrative multidisciplinary providers in one community setting. Major study findings, study strengths and limitations, and implications are discussed.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2014. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Thomas Skovholt, PhD, LP. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 113 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Roth, Anna Laurie. (2014). Yoga as a psychological intervention: conceptualizations and practice integration of professional psychologist-yoga teachers. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.