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Regular Yoga Practice Is Associated With Mindful Eating
Date:8/7/2009

the physical activity aspect of yoga practice," said Kristal, who is also a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Kristal, a yoga enthusiast for the past 15 years, said that yoga cultivates mindfulness in a number of ways, such as being able to hold a challenging physical pose by observing the discomfort in a non-judgmental way, with an accepting, calm mind and focus on the breath. "This ability to be calm and observant during physical discomfort teaches how to maintain calm in other challenging situations, such as not eating more even when the food tastes good and not eating when you're not hungry," he said.

To test whether yoga in fact increases mindfulness and mindful eating, Kristal and colleagues developed a Mindful Eating Questionnaire, a 28-item survey that measured a variety of factors:

  • disinhibition - eating even when full;
  • awareness - being aware of how food looks, tastes and smells;
  • external cues - eating in response to environmental cues, such as advertising;
  • emotional response - eating in response to sadness or stress; and
  • distraction - focusing on other things while eating.

Each question was graded on a scale of 1 to 4, in which higher scores signified more mindful eating. The questionnaire was administered to more than 300 people at Seattle-area yoga studios, fitness facilities and weight-loss programs, among other venues. More than 80 percent of the study participants were women, well-educated and Caucasian, with an average age of 42. Participants provided self-reported information on a number of factors, including weight, height, yoga practice, walking for exercise or transportation and other forms of moderate and strenuous exercise.

More than 40 percent of the participants practiced yoga more than an hour per week, 46 percent walked fo
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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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