Research to support yoga’s growing popularity marks an exciting time in the integration of this ancient mind-body practice into Western culture. Yoga demonstrates promising effects in the treatment of a range of mental and physical health symptoms and is cost-effective. However, its rise in popularity is met by a very specific demographic: practitioners tend to be female, white, and well-educated. The current study explored the impact of commercial versus educational representations of yoga in the context of a lecture about how to build a personal yoga practice. The study employed measures of self-compassion, self-efficacy, and social physique anxiety to assess changes from baseline to post-stimulus and then again post-lecture. Participants were recruited from a small northwest-based university and randomly assigned to a control (exposure to a handout of the eight limbs of yoga) or experimental condition (exposure to a copy of Yoga Journal). Exposure to differing media sources was followed by an informational presentation on how to begin a yoga practice. ANOVAs were calculated (using gender as a covariate) to analyze findings. No significant changes emerged from baseline to post-lecture for women or men with regard to self-ratings of self-compassion and social physique anxiety. However, significant improvements emerged related to self-efficacy for both genders. For men, increase in self-efficacy was greater with exposure to an educational handout. Additionally, ANOVAs were calculated to examine the overall impact of the brief lecture on self-efficacy and self-compassion. Although there were no significant findings for self-compassion, significant changes emerged over time for self-efficacy. Implications for referrals and clinical practice are discussed.
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