Friday, May 1, 2015

Lived Outcomes of Amputees Who Practice Yoga: A Qualitative Study Informed by Phenomenology

Elizabeth (Deedee) Myers, School of Human and Organizational Development

In the United States, there are 507 amputations each day, a number expected to grow with the increases in obesity and diabetes. This study investigated the lived experience of yoga for amputees. The researcher studied the phenomena of amputees doing yoga—ampyogis—for the first time, what the amputees learned about their soma through yoga on the mat, and the significance of transference of their learning from the yoga mat to their lives off the mat. Existing literature defines rehabilitative practices for amputees to take care of daily life necessities, such as learning to walk with a prosthetic, as well as the impact of yoga on multiple populations, such as cancer survivors, those with multiple sclerosis, trauma victims, and children with attention deficit disorders. There is a current body of literature on somatic practices, moving the body with intention to produce a certain outcome in the soma. This was a qualitative study informed by phenomenology. The researcher designed semistructured interviews to follow the participants’ narratives about events that led to amputation, their postamputation felt sense of self, and the impact of yoga on shifts in their felt sense of self. Findings indicate themes of organizing principles for the ampyogis that reflect the embodied motivation to enact change on, through, and with their bodies. Themes observed included demonstrated increased capacity among ampyogis to self-accept, to appreciate their bodies and minds, and to self-generate their choices and decision-making. Findings suggest that participants shifted their somas; and increased capacity for self-accountability regarding somatic choices from, for example, feeling depressed and frustrated, to feeling more alive, balanced, and graceful. Participants reported increased capacity for self-confidence, self-appreciation, and self-accountability. This research adds to literature on yoga as a rehabilitative practice for amputees. It also adds to the body of literature on somatics and shifting the soma through intention and practice. Additionally, this study demonstrates that somatics in action creates change in the soma.

Key Words: amputee, amputee rehabilitation, ampyogi, organizing principle, somatics, transformative learning, yoga

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