Whoah, it has been 51 days since my first and only post! 2018 has started strong and I am loving it. Like anything new though it takes time to settle and after a commoving January, routine February is here to calm us down. To aid February in its attempts to restore predictability and calmness, I have enlisted myself in a beginners Yoga course starting tonight.
From my brief reading into the history of Yoga, it is clear that it is old and means different things to different people. It rose to prominence in the Western world around the late 1800's through to the 1900's. The different meanings are due to the different schools of practice within Yoga as well as the overarching philosophical and theological frameworks. According to Wikipedia, Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines. It also includes that a goal of Yoga is to be a meditative means of discovering dysfunctional perception and cognition, as well as overcoming it for the release of suffering. It completes this through the use of postures (asanas) and breathing techniques ( pranayama).
Where my interest in Yoga comes from is the significant amount of research conducted in relation to the psychological benefits of Yoga. This research has focused on pain, anxiety, depression and exercise.
Posadzki et al (2011) conducted a systematic review of the effectiveness of Yoga when it came to managing physical pain. 10 randomised clinical trials were evaluated, 9 of which suggested that yoga leads to a significantly greater reduction in pain than various control interventions such as standard care, self-care, therapeutic exercise, relaxing yoga, touch and manipulation, or no intervention. Posadzki et al (2011) concluded that yoga has the potential for alleviating pain, however, due to the variability amongst trials in relation to type of pain, school of yoga and intensity of sessions, results have to be interpreted with caution.
Telles et al (2009) found that Yoga reduces state anxiety, both through practising and learning the theory. The study involved separating 2 groups of uninitiated yoga students into 2 groups. The first group was given a 2-hour yoga practice sessions, whilst the second group was taught about yoga theory for 2 hours. The reduction was higher for the practice group compared to the theory group. This study reminds me a little of the gratitude study where even just asking people to think about thanking someone (theory group) was beneficial. These studies are isolated however and no control group makes it difficult to interpret the placebo effect.
A study by Anbarasu & Chandramohan (2015) using 300 secondary school students found that regular practice of yoga helped to maintain good mental health. Improvement in the performance was seen over the students practising Yoga. Girls responded well to the therapeutic intervention. Of all the techniques, Yoga was one of the best therapeutic techniques in alleviating the ill-effects of depression symptoms among school students. Practicing yoga regularly helped to overcome depression symptoms and thereby reducing attrition rate among school students.
Netz & Lidor (2003) compared the benefits of mindful exercises to aerobic exercises on individuals mood and wellbeing. Extensive research has shown the positive benefits that aerobic exercise as on an individual’s mood (decrease in depressive and anxiety symptoms) and wellbeing. Netz & Lidor found that mindful exercises including Yoga also had the same benefits and that further research was required in this area. One mindful exercise they discuss is called Feldenkrais which sounds like a topic for a blog another time.
Reed (2014) investigated the effects of a placebo and expectations between 2 groups who completed a 15-week Hatha Yoga introductory course. This was achieved by giving the experimental group a bracelet (placebo) for half of the course and the control group no Bracelet. Participants in the experimental group were told about the benefits of the bracelet on their yoga practice. Reed’s results suggest that those in the experimental group perceived the Yoga to be most beneficial when they had the bracelet. Reed concluded that placebo effects may account for some of the affective benefits associated with yoga practice.
This blog is by no means an extensive review and many of these studies have significant flaws that would make it difficult for anyone to state the objective benefits of a particular style of yoga on a particular area of dysfunction. However, subjectively the benefits of yoga are undeniable for many people. I look forward to finding out more tonight whether this is an area that will be beneficial to me and I will be sure to follow up with a verdict:)
Anbarasu, M., & Chandramohan, V. (2015). Yoga in the management of depression among students. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(4), 410-413. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1779458059?accountid=178506
Posadzki, P., Ernst, E., Terry, R., & Lee, M. S. (2011). Is yoga effective for pain? A systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 19(5), 2817. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2011.07.004
Reed, J. (2014). Effect of placebo-induced changes in expectancies on self-reported affect associated with yoga practice. Journal of Sport Behavior, 37(3), 268-285. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1553181488?accountid=178506
Telles, S., Gaur, V., & Balkrishna, A. (2009). EFFECT OF A YOGA PRACTICE SESSION AND A YOGA THEORY SESSION ON STATE ANXIETY. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 109(3), 924. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/215399528?accountid=178506