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PLASTICITY OF MOTOR CONTROL SYSTEMS DEMONSTRATED BY YOGA TRAINING

Shirley Telles, B. H. Hanumanthaiah, R. Nagarathna and H. R. Nagendra

Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation,
No. 9, Appajappa Agrahara, Chamarajpet, Bangalore - 560 018

(Received on May 5, 1993)


Abstract: The static motor performance was tested in two groups with 20 subjects in each (age range 17 to 22 years, and 5 females in each group). Tests were carried out at the beginning and end of a 10 day period. The test required being able to insert and hold a metal stylus within holes of varying sizes for 15 sec. Accidental contacts between the stylus and the sides of the holes, were registered on a counter as errors. During the 10 days one group (the yoga group) practised asanas (physical postures), pranayama (voluntary regulation of breathing), meditation, devotional sessions, and tratakas (visual focussing exercises). The control group followed their usual routine. At the end of 10 days the yoga group showed a significant reduction in number of errors (Wilcoxon paired signed ranks test), while the control group did not change. Our earlier study showed a similar improvement in children (9 - 13 years). It was interesting to note the same degree of plasticity in motor control systems in young adults. The implications for rehabilitation programmes have been discussed.

Key words: yogic practices, steadiness, motor control system, plasticity.

INTRODUCTION

At the beginning of a race, athletes have to remain motionless, yet ready for activity. This static motor performance is essential for various activities.

We have already established (1), that after 10 days of training in yoga, school children (in the age range of 9-13 years), show considerable improvement in static motor performance, whereas a control group, which did not practise yoga, did not change.

The present study was carried out to determine whether this ability to improve after 10 days of yoga training, would also be seen in teenagers and young adults.

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