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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The meaning of the lived experience of nonattachment for long-term yoga practitioners Herfst, Andrew


Yoga is a popular alternative mental health intervention and an integral component of leading mindfulness-based interventions. Yoga helps with concerns like anxiety and depression (e.g., Field, 2011), but we do not yet understand how it helps. With the aim of developing more potent theoretical models of therapeutic yoga, there have been calls in the literature to explore yoga’s underlying principles and constructs, and to use qualitative research methods to look at the lived experience of healthy, long-term practitioners (e.g., Field, 2011; Solomonova, 2015). Mindful nonattachment (e.g., Sahdra, Brown, & Shaver, 2010), which is associated with the promotion of psychological freedom, emotion regulation, well-being, and distress tolerance (e.g., Desbordes et al., 2014; Sahdra et al., 2010; Shapiro, Carlson, Astin, & Freedman, 2006), is an important underlying construct in yoga and may be a helping factor not only in mindfulness, but across psychotherapeutic modalities. This research project investigates the meaning of the lived experience of nonattachment for four long-term yoga practitioners from Vancouver BC. Using Smith, Flowers, and Larkin’s (2009) method of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, interviews with long-term yoga practitioners were conducted to explore their experience of nonattachment in detail. Six superordinate themes emerged: a flexible identity in relationship, developing nonattachment moment by moment, how to see things differently, processing lived experience, choosing freedom, and framework for a way of life. Areas of congruence with the literature and novel findings are discussed in view of the relevant literature on nonattachment and on self-regulatory features of yoga.

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