Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 47  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-5

Rehabilitation in orphan children: Role of evidence-based yoga

1 Department of Yoga and Management, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA) University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Yoga Education, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication9-Dec-2016

Correspondence Address:
Sham Ganpat Tikhe
Assistant Professor, Department of Yoga Education, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, New Delhi - 110 001
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DOI: 10.4103/0044-0507.195454

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More than 153 million children worldwide have been orphaned by the loss of one or both parents and millions more have been abandoned. There is a strong association between child health measures and the health of their primary caregivers. Poor caregiver health is a strong signal for poor health of orphan children. The strategies to support orphan children may include taking steps to ensure food security, foster gender equality, and prevent and treat traumatic events. Yoga, a feasible and acceptable activity with self-reported benefits to child's mental and physical health, may play effective role in the rehabilitation of orphaned children.

Keywords: Caregivers, health, orphan children, rehabilitation, yoga

How to cite this article:
Sharma SD, Pailoor S, Tikhe SG. Rehabilitation in orphan children: Role of evidence-based yoga. Yoga Mimamsa 2015;47:3-5

How to cite this URL:
Sharma SD, Pailoor S, Tikhe SG. Rehabilitation in orphan children: Role of evidence-based yoga. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Aug 9];47:3-5. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Orphan children (OC) are not actively consulted and encouraged to participate in helping to solve the problems they are affected by. Moreover, there is a lack of coordination between caregiver organizations, leading to ineffective and inefficient service provision for this particular vulnerable group (Earnshaw, Njongwe, English, & Worku, 2009). Africa is most often referenced when discussing the orphan burden whereas Asian countries are caring for 71.5 million orphans (UNICEF, 2011). In Asia, high mortality among young parents from conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/ acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), pregnancy complications, violence and accidental deaths, and natural disasters are responsible for the large and increasing number of OC (Hosegood et al., 2007; UNICEF, 2008; World Health Organization, 2011). Similarly, it was reported that OC had significantly higher scores than non-OC on individual items in the Beck Youth Depression Inventory that are regarded as particularly “sensitive” to the possible presence of a depressive disorder, i.e., vegetative symptoms, feelings of hopelessness, and suicidal ideation (Atwine, Cantor-Graae, & Bajunirwe, 2005). Furthermore, OC were found to suffer greater psychological distress than non-OC (Makame, Ani, & Grantham-McGregor, 2002).

General consideration

In general, it has been observed that OC are not receiving adequate food or balanced diets. In addition, they had difficulties in accessing health facilities. The condition of education assistance is also limited, and abuse may generally not get reported for fear of reprisal. OC may generally rely on family and community networks for assistance, however, the strain experienced due to offering assistance meant that the assistance may not be consistent. Some OC also may rely on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for food donations, however, many of the OC might be unaware of the services offered by these organizations.

Care givers and care giving linked with household and community characteristics

The death of the last parent has a profound effect on survivors, and therefore, OC are often coping with grief, loss, and awareness that their lives are forever changed (McDaniel & Clark, 2009). Furthermore, in the case of OC with HIV/AIDS, families play central roles in caring, and there are two family resources essential for supporting children, i.e., time and money. However, it is observed that parents have less time for their OC, and these children experience greater health and academic problems (Heymann & Kidman, 2009). Communities are playing an important role in helping OC families by providing adequate childcare and financial support. Unfortunately, while communities commonly offer informal assistance, the value of such support may not be adequate to match the magnitude of the need. Research shows that OC are vulnerable to experiencing multiple traumatic events and suffer poor self-regulation leading to emotional and behavioral difficulties and trauma-related disorders (Eisenberg et al., 2005; Whetten, Ostermann, Whetten, O'Donnell, & Thielman, 2011).

Yoga: An innovative approach

In order to alleviate the burden of mental illness affecting vulnerable children, development of an evidence-based effective and feasible therapeutic intervention is needed. Yoga is a feasible and acceptable activity with self-reported benefits to the child's mental and physical health. The OC with trauma-related distress showed improvements in symptoms after participation in an 8-week yoga program as compared to controls (Culver, Whetten, Boyd, & O'Donnell, 2015). Further, when children are orphaned they are at a higher risk for experiencing the potentially traumatic events due to lack of adequate adult protection (Ahmad et al., 2005). Suryanamaskara training, a part of yoga, enhances selective attention among OC and may be useful for their academic performance (Devi, Ganpat, Kumar, & Ramarao, 2015). Based on previous literary and experiential review research in yoga, suggested evidence-based yoga program for effective rehabilitation in OC may include following yoga practices (yogic rehabilitation module for orphan children) (Culver et al., 2015; Devi et al., 2015; Saraswati, 2005):

Shithilikarana Vyayama (loosening and stretching practices)

  • Supta Pawanmuktasana (leg lock pose) (Saraswati, 2005)
  • Suryanamaskara (salutations to the sun) (Devi et al., 2015).

Asana (postures) (Culver et al., 2015; Saraswati, 2005)

  • Ardhakati Chakrasana (the half wheel pose)
  • Shashankasana (hare pose)/Yoga Mudra (attitude of psychic union)
  • Ushtrasana (camel pose)
  • Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
  • Shalabhasana (locust pose)
  • Viparitakarani Asana (inverted pose)
  • Sarvangasana (shoulder stand pose)
  • Matsyasana (fish pose)
  • Ardha Shirshasana (half headstand pose)/Shirshasana (headstand pose)
  • Shavasana (corpse pose).

Pranayama (breathing practices) (Saraswati, 2005)

  • Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (psychic network purification).

Dharana and Dhyana (concentration and meditation practices) (Culver et al., 2015)

  • OM Meditation (OM chanting).

Kriya (cleansing practices) (Saraswati, 2005)

  • Jala Neti (nasal cleansing with water).

  Conclusion Top

It may be suggested that the communities may strengthen the capacity of OC families by implementing affordable quality childcare for 0–6 year olds, after-school programming for older children and youth, supportive care for ill children and parents, microlending to enhance earnings, training to increase access to quality jobs, decent working conditions, social insurance for the informal sector, and income and food transfers when families are unable to make ends meet (Heymann & Kidman, 2009). Policy makers and health economists may establish family-based clinics in which both OC and their caregivers can receive treatment (Thielman, Ostermann, Whetten, Whetten, & O'Donnell, 2012). The link between traumatic events and poor OC health draws further attention to the need for sustainable social services to address the causes and consequences of trauma for OC (Whetten et al., 2011). Similarly, as food insecurity correlates with poor health (Caballero, 2002; Cook et al., 2004), policy to add adequate nutrition for children during their formative years need to be taken into consideration. In addition, large-scale randomized trials are needed to validate the efficacy of yoga for rehabilitation in OC. [18]


Authors acknowledge Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bengaluru for kind support to carry out this work.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Ahmad, A., Qahar, J., Siddiq, A., Majeed, A., Rasheed, J., & Jabar, F., …von Knorring, A. L. (2005). A 2-year follow-up of orphans' competence, socio-emotional problems and post-traumatic stress symptoms in traditional foster care and orphanages in Iraqi Kurdistan. Child Care Health and Development,31(2), 203-215.  Back to cited text no. 1
Atwine, B., Cantor-Graae, E., & Bajunirwe, F. (2005). Psychological distress among AIDS orphans in rural Uganda. Social Science & Medicine, 61(3), 555-564.  Back to cited text no. 2
Caballero, B. (2002). Global patterns of child health: The role of nutrition. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 46(Suppl. 1), 3-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
Cook, J. T., Frank, D. A., Berkowitz, C., Black, M. M., Casey, P. H., & Cutts, D. B., … Nord, M. (2004). Food insecurity is associated with adverse health outcomes among human infants and toddlers. The Journal of Nutrition, 134(6), 1432-1438.  Back to cited text no. 4
Culver, K. A., Whetten, K., Boyd, D. L., & O'Donnell, K. (2015). Yoga to reduce trauma-related distress and emotional and behavioral difficulties among children living in orphanages in Haiti: A pilot study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(9), 539-545.  Back to cited text no. 5
Devi, T. M., Ganpat, T. S., Kumar, S., & Ramarao, N. H. (2015). Surya namaskara training for enhancing selective attention in orphan boys: A randomized control study. Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine, 15(1), 37.  Back to cited text no. 6
Earnshaw, S., Njongwe, P., English, B., & Worku, Z. (2009). The health and living conditions of children in child-headed households in Siteki, Swaziland. East African Journal of Public Health, 6(1), 95-101.  Back to cited text no. 7
Eisenberg, N., Sadovsky, A., Spinrad, T. L., Fabes, R. A., Losoya, S. H., & Valiente, C., … Shepard, S. A. (2005). The relations of problem behavior status to children's negative emotionality, effortful control, and impulsivity: Concurrent relations and prediction of change. Developmental Psychology, 41(1), 193-211.  Back to cited text no. 8
Heymann, J., & Kidman, R. (2009). HIV/AIDS, declining family resources and the community safety net. AIDS Care, 21(S1), 34-42.  Back to cited text no. 9
Hosegood, V., Floyd, S., Marston, M., Hill, C., McGrath, N., & Isingo, R., … Zaba, B. (2007). The effects of high HIV prevalence on orphan-hood and living arrangements of children in Malawi, Tanzania, and South Africa. Population Studies, 61(3), 327-336.  Back to cited text no. 10
Makame, V., Ani, C., & Grantham-McGregor, S. (2002). Psychological well-being of orphans in Dar El Salaam, Tanzania. Acta Paediatrica, 91(4), 459-465.  Back to cited text no. 11
McDaniel, J. G., & Clark, P. G. (2009). The new adult orphan: Issues and considerations for health care professionals. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 35(12), 44-49.  Back to cited text no. 12
Saraswati, S. (2005). Asana, Prāāyāma, Mudrā, Bandha (pp. 525, 528, 539). Bihar: Yoga Publication Trust.  Back to cited text no. 13
Thielman, N., Ostermann, J., Whetten, K., Whetten, R., & O'Donnell, K. (2012). Correlates of poor health among orphans and abandoned children in less wealthy countries: The importance of caregiver health. PloS One, 7(6), e38109.  Back to cited text no. 14
UNICEF. (2008). The state of the world's children 2009: Maternal and newborn health (Vol. 9). UNICEF.  Back to cited text no. 15
UNICEF. (2011). The state of the world's children 2011-executive summary: Adolescence an age of opportunity. UNICEF.  Back to cited text no. 16
Whetten, K., Ostermann, J., Whetten, R., O'Donnell, K., & Thielman, N. (2011). More than the loss of a parent: Potentially traumatic events among orphaned and abandoned children. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(2), 174-182.  Back to cited text no. 17
World Health Organization. (2011). World health statistics: WHO report 2011. World Health Organization.  Back to cited text no. 18


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