Study of the nature of yoga

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How does a yoga teacher training change the life of the participants? A large-scale study with 1,700 subjects investigated this question. Never before have personal and spiritual effects been researched so thoroughly and elaborately.

People who practice yoga often report lasting changes in their lives, which they attribute to their practice. A large-scale study by the University of Gießen recorded such change and transformation processes for the first time during a four-week yoga teacher training course at Yoga Vidya e.V. The result: The intensive practice has a health-promoting effect on the lifestyle of the participants. The prospective yoga teachers were more aware of their personal resources and became more self-determined and psychologically stable.

The scientific management of the study was the responsibility of qualified psychologist Dr. Hannes Hempel from the Bender Institute of Neuroimaging at the University of Gießen. Using instruments from personality psychology, Hempel recorded the transformation processes of a total of 1,700 participants and then looked for connections to yoga practice, which averaged more than 200 minutes per day during the training periods. The participants were 80 percent female, an average of 39 years old and the majority had a higher education.

Self-determined and stress-resistant The increase in the parameters of self-concept and self-efficacy observed at the end of the training shows that the participants perceived their own abilities more strongly and experienced their life as less externally determined. Instead, they felt they could control and direct situations themselves. This ability is particularly important in stress research as an important personal resource against stress susceptibility.

Mindfulness increases quality of life The parameters of mindfulness and self-awareness increased during training, which gave the participants better access to the natural needs of their bodies. Overall, this resulted in a more intensive and conscious experience and thus a higher quality of life. The scientists also observed ongoing changes in lifestyle - particularly with regard to nutrition, consumption of intoxicants and intoxicants as well as other lifestyle habits.

Spirituality as a health resource The study also evaluates the development of spirituality as health-promoting, which, according to Hannes Hempel, can be used to overcome dependencies more easily or to deal with blows of fate, for example. The participants showed above all a stronger spiritual experience in everyday life. If you practice yoga intensively, you will not only see more meaning in life. Basic trust and security are also increasing. Likewise, compassion and understanding towards yourself and others.

Scientific Approach to the Essence of Yoga From a scientific point of view, Hannes Hempel has broken new ground with this study. "While the main interest of yoga research so far has been to demonstrate therapeutic effects and the search for explanatory mechanisms, we are now approaching the very essence of yoga, which ultimately wants to enable the practitioner to gain insights into the nature of being," explains Hempel. "With this study, we were able to clearly prove this gain in knowledge described by the practitioners as a process of change." The publications on the study can be found at

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