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Yoga for the Rehabilitation of Socially Disadvantaged and Visually Impaired Subject

K.V. Naveen, B. Rajesh, Srinivas, R.Nagarathna and Shirley Telles

Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation
No.9, Appajappa agrahar, Chamarajpet, Bangalore - 560018, India.


Abstract: This study was designed (i) to compare autonomic parameters in two categories of subjects (age range 12 to 17 years), viz. community home girls (CH, n=20) who were admitted due to problems in adjusting in society, and congenitally blind subjects (CB, n=28) with appropriate age-matched, control groups i.e. children staying at home and those with normal vision, respectively, (ii) to compare the effect of yoga with games (n= 14 each) in the CH group and the effects of yoga with gardening (n=12 each) in the CB group. Polygraphic recordings were made of respiration, EKG, and skin resistance. The community home group were randomly assigned to yoga and games groups and followed up after six months, while for the congenitally blind group subjects were randomly assigned to yoga and physical activity group with a follow up after three weeks. In the first comparison community home girls had significantly faster, irregular breathing (indicative of anxiety) and lower skill resistance, while blind children had faster, irregular breathing and higher heart rates and diastolic blood pressure values. In the second comparison the yoga groups of both categories of subjects showed a decrease in breath rate, which became more rhythmic. Hence a yoga program including relaxation and awareness is useful in the rehabilitation of these subjects.

Key words: Community home; congenitally blind; autonomic measures; Yoga.


 INTRODUCTION

 
Mental arousal may be correlated with diverse factors related to family or environment, as well as the status of one's physical and mental health. For example children in a community home in Finland were described as physically normally developed but were socially and emotionally traumatized (Ahvenainen, Lindholm, & Nikkanen, 1984). A report on physiological measures showed that the resting electrical activity of selected facial and back muscles was significantly higher in community home boys than in a control group of the same age in an ordinary school (Rauhala, Alho, Hanninen, & Helin, 1990). Another group of subjects who were reported to have significantly greater levels of anxiety than usual is subjects with impaired vision. This greater anxiety was specially related to physical threat (Ollendick, Matson. & Helsel,1985). In a blind-sighted comparison, blind persons were found to have a significantly higher heart rate while walking along an unfamiliar route as well as for five minutes after it (Wycherley & Nicklin, 1970). This was ascribed to psychological, rather than physical stress

The practice of yoga is known to reduce autonomic arousal (Wallace, Benson, & Wilson, 1971; Joseph, Sridharan, Patil, Kumaria, Selvamurthy, Joseph, & Nayar, 1981). Increased physical activity has been shown to reduce autonomic reactivity to mental stressors (Steptoe, Kearsley, & Walters).

 The present report compares the autonomic arousal of two groups of subjects, i.e. socially disadvantaged community home girls (Telles, Narendran, Raghuraj, Nagarathna, & Nagendra 1997) and physically disadvantaged blind children. Both groups were compared to their respective control groups. The second part of the report describes and compares the use of yoga with games or physical activity such as gardening.

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