Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Carolyn Walter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Andrew Newberg, MD

Third Advisor

Leela Mata, RYT-500



This dissertation is a continuing education unit (CEU) course that teaches social workers and other mental health professionals how to cultivate resiliency and enhance self-care through the ancient practice of yoga. The course explores emerging research that reveals how yoga and other mindfulness-based practices can positively impact neurochemistry and brain biology. Most of the yoga positions and breathing exercises are practiced from a chair and can be adapted to any level of flexibility and fitness level. Designed to make yoga accessible for everyone, the techniques are gentle and available to individuals with various physical abilities, including participants who may be in a wheelchair. The program is experiential in nature but also includes power point slides and traditional classroom style instruction.

The literature review clearly demonstrates that mindfulness is an established theoretical orientation rather than a simple technique. Additionally, the dissertation compares and contrasts social work values and ethics with ancient yoga philosophy to establish the compatibility of the two disciplines. Furthermore, the course compares and contrasts the eights limbs of yoga with the seven core values of The Sanctuary Model, an established and evidence based organizational paradigm that is used to promote resiliency and prevent burnout among social service and mental health/ healthcare professionals in agencies worldwide.

In conclusion, implications for social work practice and areas of potential research are identified and discussed. Once mastered, the chair based yoga skills that are taught may be used by social workers in clinical practice to help clients reduce anxiety and enhance self-care.

Included in

Social Work Commons