An exploration of the experience of individuals choosing yoga or exercise in a continuing cardiac rehabilitation programme
This study explores the contribution of yoga as a patient choice within a continuing cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programme by comparing a group of individuals who chose to undertake a yoga programme as part of their continuing CR with a group who chose to follow a gymnasium based exercise programme. The study aims were to describe the characteristics of individuals who chose yoga (n=25) or exercise (n=35) CR programmes and explore over one year their process of adaptation and change together with the perceived benefits from the interventions. The design of this study was that of an Exploratory Between Methods Triangulation. The methods utilised were self-reports using standardized instruments including Self Perception Profile (Messer & Harter 1986), Self Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life (O'Boyle et aI, 1993) and Perceived Stress (Cohen, 1983). Semi-structured interviews captured accounts from a purposeful sample of participants at commencement of the intervention and at the end of one year. The questionnaire data was triangulated with the data and narrative from the interviews to compare the experiences, processes and any benefits achieved by participants in both the exercise and yoga groups. The key findings from this study were that the majority of yoga group participants reported that they achieved mind/body benefits including enhanced self-awareness, reduction in stress and anxiety, greater calmness, positive feelings, flexibility and suppleness within the body. The exercise group participants reported benefits of enhanced physical fitness and feelings of general well being. However, this group noted a more limited number of self-changes, which tended to be less personal and related largely to the physical dimension of their experience on the exercise programme. The findings of this study have implications for the policy and practice surrounding the future development of Cardiac Rehabilitation Programmes in relation to the nature of interventions included within such programmes and their potential to support and empower lifestyle change.