UConn professor’s yoga study has flex appeal

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MYSTIC-- Why do people start and stick with yoga? There's a UConn study that has researched those questions.

Crystal Park is a University of Connecticut professor of psychology who spent three years on her research. Park, a decade-long practitioner of yoga,  surveyed more than 500 yoga participants nationwide and found that people usually begin yoga for health reasons, but stay with the practice for spiritual reasons.

"The fitness aspects sort of fade away and a spirituality starts to emerge," Park said. In other words, while the mind and body are a big part of yoga, it is the soul that keeps people loyal to the discipline. "It sort of makes intuitive sense," Park noted.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

During a class at the Mystic Yoga Shala, where Park practices, the study was greeted as warmly as the noontime "hot yoga" class, which was full. Dechen Zezulka, the owner of Mystic Yoga Shala said, "I'm so excited that yoga is infiltrating the academic world."

Jim Conlan, the head instructor at the studio added, "I was really happy to see her (Park) digging into the research."

Park says more studies on the art form are commissioned for the future, including a look into the benefits of yoga for active military members and veterans.