Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

F. Richard Ferraro


The purpose of this dissertation was to elaborate and expand research examining the incorporation of yoga in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders in addition to the amelioration of body image and related factors through a two-study design. Study One recruited participants from a Midwestern psychology subject pool. One-hundred fifty women completed Study One. Results indicated that self-compassion, mindfulness, and body appreciation were negatively related to eating disorder pathology, body mass index (BMI), and experiential avoidance. BMI, eating disorder pathology, and experiential avoidance were all positively correlated with one another. Mediational analyses indicated the self-compassion was a significant mediator between overweight preoccupation and disordered eating as well as experiential avoidance and eating disorder pathology included global EDE-Q scores, appearance evaluation, and overweight preoccupation. Study Two was a repeated measures quasi-experimental design assessing changes in self-compassion, mindfulness, body appreciation, body dissatisfaction (overweight preoccupation, appearance orientation, appearance evaluation) and eating disorder pathology associated with yoga-practice over the course of eight weeks. Participants (university students) were recruited from 8-week yoga courses meeting three times a week for 50 minutes and completed measures at Time 1 (first day of class) and Time 2 (last 2 classes – 8 weeks later). While the explanatory relationship noted in Study One was not assessed, there were significant changes over time. Participants reported improvements in self-compassion, yoga self-efficacy, and body appreciation. Additionally, participants reported less appearance orientation. Less parsimonious results were noted for body dissatisfaction and eating disorder variables. However, the results are promising and suggest that yoga may be beneficial in improving body appreciation and self-compassion which could buffer against later development of eating disorder pathology and greater body dissatisfaction.