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YOGA BASED ISOMETRIC RELAXATION VERSUS SUPINE REST: A STUDY OF OXYGEN CONSUMPTION, BREATH RATE AND VOLUME AND AUTONOMIC MEASURES R.P.

Vempati and Shirley Telles.
Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalaore, India.

Forty male volunteers with ages ranging from 16 to 46 yrs ware studied in two sessions, yoga based isometric relaxation technique (IRT) and supine rest (SR). Assessments of autonomic parameters were made in 15 subjects, before and after the practices, whereas oxygen consumption, breath rate and breath volume were recorded in 25 subjects, before and after IRT and SR. A significant decrease in breath rate after IRT and in linger Plethysmogram was recorded after SR. The results suggest possibilities for IRT in reducing some physiological signs of anxiety.

  
INTRODUCTION

Various conventional as well as non-pharmacological methods of relaxation, including autogenic muscle relaxation are becoming popular for reduction of stress (De Berry, Davis & Reinhard, 1939). Traditional yoga texts say that it may also sometimes be desirable to activate the mind (Chinmayananda, 1984): "In a state of oblivion awaken the mind again; when agitated, pacify it; in between understand that the mind is full of potency. If the mind has reached the state of perfect equilibrium then do not disturb it again" (p. 275). For most persons routinely, the mental state is neither in a "state of oblivion" nor is it "agitated", but is somewhere between these extremes, and hence a combination of "awakening" and "pacifying" measures may be better suited, to reach a state of equilibrium. Once the mind is out of vikshipta (a state of unsteadiness), then the equanimity will set in. To shatter the "Laya" (a state of oblivion) and pacify the vikshipta, a combination of stimulation and relaxation may be a better measure.

Isometric squeeze relaxation (a variant of progressive relaxation) may be more appropriate for individuals who have difficulty focusing, while meditation may be better suited to those who already possess well-developed relaxation skills at the trait level (Weinstein & Smith, 1992). It is important that the appropriate relaxation technique is used, as people with mental illness may experience an exacerbation of their symptoms with the injudicious use of relaxation techniques that use imagery (Harding, 1996). There are some relaxation methods, which can be carried out as a simple technique "on the spot" like the intervention in the present study (Payne, 1 995).

The objective of the present investigation was to evaluate the efficacy of yoga based isometric relaxation technique (a variant of conventional technique), with external instructions to reduce psychophysiological arousal. This is basically a combination of isometric contractions of all Muscle groups followed by relaxation with breath awareness (Isometric relaxation technique, IRT). For comparison. assessments were also made following supine rest (SR).
 

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