Mind-Body-Spirit News:

If you teach yoga, are you encouraging students to develop a strong home practice? New research shows that the more yoga students practice at home, the more likely they are to have better health habits overall.

A survey conducted by researchers from the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, found that frequency of home practice among respondents was a key to favorable improvements in feelings of well-being, better nutrition, improved sleep and more energy, among other benefits. Interestingly, frequency of practice was a higher predictor of positive outcomes than the number of years a person had practiced yoga or the number of classes he or she attended weekly.

“It is not enough simply to learn how to do healthy behaviors,” emphasized the study authors. “Rather, healthy behaviors must be incorporated into one’s daily life. While these findings suggest that individuals will only glean benefits from yoga practice that are proportional to the energy that they are willing to invest in making it a part of their lives, the findings also suggest that they do not have to practice for years in order to reap the rewards.”

Study limitations included the fact that survey respondents were all Iyengar yoga practitioners in the United States, that online anonymous surveys can have potential for bias and that the 27% response rate was low. Researchers recommended that future research examine the comparative effectiveness of different styles of yoga on a variety of health outcomes.

The study appeared in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2012; doi: 10.1155/2012/983258).