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Exploring Yoga and the Flow Experience: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Contemporary Yoga Communities.

Hecquet, J., 2024. Exploring Yoga and the Flow Experience: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Contemporary Yoga Communities. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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HECQUET, Juliette_Ph.D._2023.pdf
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Despite its popularity and existing research demonstrating the positive effects of yoga, little is known about the lived experience of modern yoga practitioners. Yoga is rooted in philosophical and spiritual traditions but has been diluted in its transition to the modern postural yoga practiced in the West today. Existing research has been dominated by medical research suggesting that social science and leisure studies could benefit from a better understanding of yoga as a leisure activity. In this study, the literature detailing the philosophical foundations of Csikszentmihalyi’s flow experience have been compared to the foundations of traditional yoga, providing a conceptual framework for understanding the meaning of the modern yoga experience. The use of this conceptual framework of flow suggested that yoga has five dimensions to induce flow, but that other dimensions of the flow experience were weaker or absent. This study, therefore, extends the understanding of the flow experience away from commonly researched, usually male-dominated, competitive sports and into the realm of women’s leisure studies. The findings demonstrate that an online leisure experience can induce flow, which previous flow experience literature has questioned. In this study, the lived yoga experience was explored through the reflections of fourteen women aged mostly between 40 and 55, using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Two contemporary communities were explored – classroom-based and online, through six weeks of vlogs followed by one-to-one semi-structured interviews. Vlogs, a novel visual research method in IPA, allowed for immediate self-documentation and natural reflexivity about participants’ lived yoga experience. They also offered the potential to capture elements of the flow experience. Three key themes were evident for both the classroom-based and online yoga participants: the evolving sense and transformation of self; a sense of human and spatial connection; and being challenged as participants age. However, the online group reported experiences that contested aspects of existing leisure research, such as women's need for social connection. Participants’ ability to control space and place in their homes through a digitised leisure experience demonstrates that the meaning of space and place is changing for yoga practitioners. This enables a ‘re-thinking’ of leisure, women and the home and contributes to understanding the impact of digitised leisure. Whilst the findings cannot be generalised, this small-scale study suggests that yoga may be seen as a positive, transformational leisure activity for women aged 40-50 years, which the participants viewed as different to other forms of exercise. The use of IPA led to original and unique findings which can further our understanding of women’s leisure, embodiment, online and offline space and place.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Yoga; Leisure; Digital Leisure; Interpretative Phenomenological Anaylsis
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:39693
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:12 Apr 2024 11:56
Last Modified:12 Apr 2024 11:56


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