Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name





Ashtanga yoga, Body image, Eating disorders, Embodiment, Intervention, Mixed-Methods


S. Woodruff


L. Buchanan




Eating disorders are a set of polysymptomatic disorders defined by characteristic disturbances in weight/shape, eating, and their control (Cooper, 2017). Drawing on existing models of objectification, embodiment, and positive body image, Ashtanga yoga was expected to be a beneficial intervention for those with eating disorders. These theoretical frameworks suggest that Ashtanga yoga may promote well-being by supporting improvements in embodiment and disrupt pathways postulated to promote pathology, such as self-objectification and body dissatisfaction. Participants were invited to participate in an 8-week Ashtanga yoga intervention of twice weekly 75-minute classes at a local community centre. Participants in two studies completed specialized eating disorder assessments and surveys before the first class (Time 1), after the 8th class (Time 2), and after the last class (Time 3). In Study 1, individuals identifying as female were recruited from a local eating disorder treatment centre waitlist but due to difficulties with recruitment and retention, the final sample consisted of a single participant. Results from Study 1 showed minimal, if any improvement on the outcome variables. In Study 2, individuals identifying as female with significant body image and eating concerns, with or without a diagnosed eating disorder, were recruited from both the local university and community (n = 3). Consistent with hypotheses, these participants reported improvements in eating disorder symptoms and related indicators of eating pathology, as well as in anxiety, depression, and perfectionism. Beyond these reductions in pathology, quantitative and qualitative data demonstrated substantial improvements in embodiment and well-being. Importantly, themes in the qualitative data highlighted how the unique combination of Ashtanga yoga characteristics directly contributed to improvements in outcome variables.