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.