Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) The Impact of Yoga on Black Womenâ₀™s Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

635P (see Poster Gallery) The Impact of Yoga on Black Womenâ₀™s Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Kimberly Grocher, PhD, Psychotherapist, Researcher, Fordham University, New York, NY
Background & Purpose: The year 2020 brought to light the long-standing health disparities that impact Black Americans especially Black women. Historical distrust of the medical system, implicit biases that impact quality of care, and stigma around mental health are barriers that contribute to the cycle of disproportionate health issues in Black women. While we need to dismantle these barriers, we also need to consider non-traditional culturally relevant methods to healing and wellness for Black women. Yoga has been shown to be effective as a supplemental treatment for many health conditions. The benefits of yoga are well known in the U.S, yet there is a dearth of research that examines the engagement and impact of yoga on health outcomes for Black women. This study explored the factors that influence Black women’s engagement in yoga and its perceived impact on their physical, spiritual, and mental health while also exploring what factors constitute culturally relevant messaging to Black women about yoga.

Methods: Forty-nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with Black women, ages 18 and up who reported engaging in yoga in the last 3 years. Participants were recruited by posting the study flyer on Facebook in the Black Girl Yoga group, the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance group and on Twitter. Participants were also recruited via snowball sampling. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and data was explicated using NVIVO guided by the phenomenological method.

Findings: Participants found cost, time, representation, toxic yoga/wellness spaces, and health conditions to be barriers to engaging in yoga. Relationship, community, and yoga as a way of life were contributors. Participants noted positive and meaningful impacts on their physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. As far as messaging, the study found that participants found that yoga was primarily marketed to Black women to gain Black dollars as opposed to improving the health and wellness of Black women. Participants provided suggestions for more effective marketing/messaging to Black women including health promotion and education and authentic representation.

Conclusion & Implications: Black women face unique stressors that make them more susceptible to chronic and terminal illnesses. Yoga has been shown to be an effective complementary and alternative treatment for many health conditions. Black women do yoga and have done yoga in the U.S. for decades though lack of representation has been a tremendous barrier to more Black women engaging in this unique form of healing that can encompass the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of a person. This study highlighted the lived experiences of Black women who do yoga, their insights into how to engage other Black women and the Black community in yoga thereby improving health outcomes for Black Americans at the physical, mental and spiritual level.