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The integrated approach of yoga: a therapeutic tool for mentally retarded children: a one-year controlled study

K. Uma, H. R. Nagendra, R. Nagarathna, S. Vaidehi and R. Seethalakshmi

Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India.


Abstract:
Ninety children with mental retardation of mild, moderate and severe degree were selected from four special schools in Bangalore, India. Forty-five children underwent yogic training for one academic year (5h in every week) with an integrated set of yogic practices, including breathing exercises and pranayama, sithilikarana vyayama (loosening exercises), suryanamaskar, yogasanas and meditation. They were compared before and after yogic training with a control group of 45 mentally retarded children matched for chronological age, sex, IQ, socio-economic status and socio environmental background who were not exposed to yoga training but continued their usual school routine during that period. There was highly significant improvement in the IQ and social adaptation parameters in the yoga group as compared to the control group. This study shows the efficacy of yoga as an effective therapeutic tool in the management of mentally retarded children.

INTRODUCTION

Yoga therapy is fast advancing as an effective therapeutic tool in many physical, psychological and psychosomatic disorders (Nagarathna & Nagendra, 1983; Nagendra, 1984a, b; Digambarji Swami, 1975; Goyeche, 1979; Kuvalayananda Swami, 1983; Linden, 1973; Vahia et al., 1973; Nagarathna & Nagendra, 1985). There have been subjective accounts and documented reports (Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, 1983) on the efficacy of yoga therapy in the mentally retarded, but attempts at scientific validation are not yet available in the literature.

A controlled pilot study conducted by the present authors in 1984 on 10 children, for a period of Six months, indicated the usefulness of yoga therapy in mentally retarded children (Uma et al., 1988). Based on this experience, the present study has been undertaken. This matched, controlled study on 45 pairs of mentally retarded children in Bangalore, India, has been designed to examine the efficacy of yoga therapy in mental retardation with regard to intelligence and social adaptation.

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