Yoga Research into Eating Disorders
Research: If and how yoga is beneficial to individuals with eating disorders.
Using western protocols for research
At the beginning, she wanted to research the effect of faulty interoception, objectification, and trauma on the eating disorders. And how yoga may be beneficial.
Standardised the classes so all yoga teachers were essentially teaching the same things in a trauma-informed yoga class.
Asked the yoga teachers and the clinicians there observations of the benefit of yoga.
Outcomes: In addition to the research paper, Nikola developed a series of protocols for giving a yoga class for individuals with eating disorders. These protocols are available at www.adoreyoga.com/blog/
2:07 Yoga Research in the popular press
The number of yoga research projects (in the West) has increased in the last 10 years. The media writes about how yoga helps people with a variety of issues but with little detail about what exactly did the yoga given look like and how did it help the participants. Without this particular information, doing the wrong kind of yoga given the condition may exacerbate the problem.
6:00 Nikola’s guidelines for her research into the effect of yoga on teenagers with eating disorders:
- a) must be evidence-based,
- b) look for what is helpful,
- c) how do we measure what is helpful,
- d) start with a literature search.
8:10 Nikola found there were three elements that may be involved with why people have eating disorders.
- a) Interoception: receptors throughout the body are always reporting on what is happening in the body, things like digestion, blood pressure, hunger, etc. People with eating disorders may not be able to feel their body or they misinterpret what they are feeling.
- b) Objectification: A person only values certain parts of themselves i.e., their looks or their body.
- c) Suffering trauma: childhood sexual abuse may be a contributing factor in eating disorders
Nikola wasn’t allowed to actually directly measure what happened to the patients that were in the yoga class (it was considered unacceptable to ask very sick children these types of questions).
Modifying the research, the researchers decided to ask the yoga teachers giving the intervention and the clinicians working with the teenagers what they saw as a result of the yoga intervention. Anecdotally, the participants felt it had helped them. The yoga teachers and clinicians also saw improvement and gave very positive feedback.
17:29 The intervention was a 10 week term with one yoga class a week. The yoga teachers were given a template for the classes so that the classes were standardised. It was based on the precepts of trauma-informed yoga and designed using the lenses of yoga therapy. Language is invitational, there were no alignment cues, students were given choice as to how to do the pose within the bounds of safety. Gave students a choice which is very rare during their treatment.
29:50 Outcome: In addition to the research paper, Nikola has designed a set of protocols for yoga teachers or clinicians that want to add yoga to their treatment plans. These protocols are can be accessed on Nikola’s website.
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