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Using Yoga to Improve Wellness

Exploring the Effects of a Four-Week Luna Yoga Program on Female Counselors and Counselors-in-Training

Cheryl Pence Wolf, Elisa Mott, Isabel Thompson, Adrienne Baggs, Ana Puig University of Florida

Summary · · · Provided a four-week Luna Yoga program to women in the counseling field including professionals and students Experimental (n = 15) & Control group (n = 21) Although wellness improved for both groups over four weeks there were no statistically significant changes between groups indicating the treatment had an impact on wellness

Introduction · Women in the counseling professions struggle to balance self-care with the needs of their clients and finding the time and resources to improve well-being can be challenging (Cummins, Massey & Jones, 2007) Professional ethical codes mandate the need for counselors' to learn effective self-care strategies to fulfill professional demands, sustain personal wellness and meet ethical requirements (American Counseling Association, 2005, Sect C) This study used yoga to improve well-being of its participants. Yoga is an ancient, complete system of holistic care that incorporates physical movements/ postures, breathing practices, and spiritual practices including relaxation and meditation to support the body, mind and spirit (Cope, 2006)

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Treatment · · Each group was taught by a certified yoga instructor once weekly over four weeks The Luna Yoga program, specially designed for women, is unlike traditional yoga as follows: o Places an emphasis on more gentle Moon Salutations instead of Sun Salutations o Is completed in a circle, rather than rows facing the instructor, to enhance connection and facilitate a socially supportive environment for the participants o Includes a verbal check-in and check-out o Provides an opportunity for participants to lead the class in a yoga posture of her choice

Partial funding for this research was provided by grants from the Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society International and the University of Florida's Center for Spirituality and Health.

Participants · A total of 36 women participated in the study o 15 women in the experimental group o 21 women in the delayed treatment control group Counselors or counselors-in-training o 47% counseling professionals from campus and community o 53% students from Counselor Education Ethnicity o 8% Asian or Pacific Islander o 8% African American o 8% Hispanic / Latino(a) o 75% Caucasian

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Methodology · Participants were contacted through email and listserv announcements intended to reach all students in the counseling programs on campus as well as professionals on campus and in the community Initially, 63 women agreed to participate. However after random assignment to groups and scheduling conflicts were cleared, only 36 remained Experimental design o Experimental group offered choice of two class times o Control group offered choice of two class times in the months following the post-test data collection Classes were offered in a large meeting room on campus in the evening when parking would be available and a majority of the work conflicts would be minimal

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Instrument / Theory · · Five-Factor Wellness Inventory (5F-Wel) pre- and post-tests Online 91-item scale assessing overall wellness and related sub-scales

Results & Discussion · · Data analysis was conducted using repeated measures mixed ANOVAs for betweengroup tests (experimental vs. control) on all scales and subscales of the assessment Although there were increases in wellness scores between pre- and post-tests in both experimental and control groups, they were not statistically significant; thus, changes cannot be attributed to the experimental yoga program Experimental group had consistently higher pre-test mean scores than control group indicating high within-group variability

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Discussion (considerations for non-significant results) · · The experimental group pre-test scores were significantly higher than the control group leaving less room for improvement Both groups started above the average assessment norms indicating that counselors in this sample may already have a higher level of wellness or have been involved in other wellness activities during the study The participants who dropped out of the study indicated that time was an issue. This may be indicative that those who did participate were more willing to make time for wellness activities, including other activities not accounted for in data collection Sample size was small (n=36) with uneven groups (n=15, 21) because of attrition during the study (additional time conflicts); a higher sample size may yield different results

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Limitations & Recommendations · This was a homogeneous group which included all women in the counseling field o Future studies could broaden the population to include other professions and/or men The nature of the random assignment limited participation for 43% of the initial interested sample because of scheduling conflicts and timing issues o Recommend a larger sample size to increase power. This should be balanced with small enough yoga classes to still maintain the intended social intimacy o Gather additional information about participants who dropped out of the study (i.e., time constraints, lack of interest, etc...) to decrease attrition rates Anecdotal evidence indicates the experience was beneficial for many of the participants however formal qualitative data was not collected on the subjective experience of participants o Future studies could gather qualitative data about perceived benefits from the yoga program, involvement in other wellness activities, and general level of interest in personal wellness Instrumentation o Short time span between pre- and post-tests (4 weeks) o Future studies may consider adding other wellness scales in combination with the 5F-Wel to validate results

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References American Counseling Association (2005). Code of Ethics. Alexandria, VA: Author Cope, S. (2006). The wisdom of yoga: A seeker's guide to extraordinary living. New York: Bantam Books. Cummins, P., Massey, L, & Jones, A. (2007). Keeping ourselves well: Strategies for promoting and maintaining counselor wellness. The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 46, 35-49. Hattie, J.A., Myers, J.E., & Sweeney, T.J. (2004). A factor structure of wellness: Theory, assessment, analysis, and practice. Journal of Counseling & Development, 82, 354-364. Myers, J.A., & Sweeney, T.J. (2004). Manual for the Five Factor Wellness Inventory 5F-Wel. Mind Garden: Menlo Park, CA.

For additional information, please contact: Cheryl Pence Wolf, Counselor Education, University of Florida, [email protected]

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