Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 50  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 27-30

Effects of Pranayama on mental health and physical fitness in healthy University students


1 Department of Rachana Sharir, Faculty of Ayurveda, IMS, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Kriya Sharir, Faculty of Ayurveda, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 IMS, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication11-Jun-2018

Correspondence Address:
Hari Hirdya Awasthi
Department of Rachana Sharir, Faculty of Ayurveda, IMS, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi - 221 005, Uttar Pradesh
India
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DOI: 10.4103/ym.ym_15_17

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  Abstract 

Background: In Indian Universities, much attention is not given to the mental and physical fitness of the students during routine teaching-learning sessions except in the courses related to physical education, medicine, and yoga. Even general health-related lessons are mostly not included in the curricula of most of the courses. This fact becomes important in the context of increasing prevalence of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases among the younger population. Yogic training happens to be one of the promising and effective methods of training in developing mental and physical fitness.
Objective of the Study: The objective of this study was to find out the effect of Pranayama on physical fitness and mental health in University-level healthy students.
Method: A total of 108 adult volunteers of University-level healthy students of both gender, aged 17–28 years were included in the study. The selected individuals were divided into two groups, experimental- and control-with (n = 54) individuals in each group. The training period of Anuloma-viloma and Bhastrika Pranayama for experimental group was 12 weeks. Physical fitness parameters and mental health were assessed at the baseline and after completion of 12 weeks of the training intervention. Mental health was tested with a validated Mental Health Inventory Questionnaire. Control groups did not undergo Pranayama training.
Results: The experimental group showed significant improvement in most of the physical fitness parameters after 12 weeks of Pranayama practice; however, the control group did not show significant improvement. The positive effect of Pranayama though was observed on mental health parameters in the experimental group, the difference was not statistically significant when compared with the control group.
Conclusion: Anuloma-viloma and Bhastrika Pranayama appear to be effective in improving physical health parameters among healthy University students.

Keywords: Indian Universities, mental health, physical fitness, Pranayama, yoga


How to cite this article:
Anand A, Patwardhan K, Singh R N, Awasthi HH. Effects of Pranayama on mental health and physical fitness in healthy University students. Yoga Mimamsa 2018;50:27-30

How to cite this URL:
Anand A, Patwardhan K, Singh R N, Awasthi HH. Effects of Pranayama on mental health and physical fitness in healthy University students. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Jul 16];50:27-30. Available from: http://www.ym-kdham.in/text.asp?2018/50/1/27/234053


  Introduction Top


In Indian Universities, much attention is not given to the mental and physical fitness of the students during routine teaching-learning sessions except in the courses related to physical education, medicine, and yoga. Even general health-related lessons are mostly not included in the curricula of most of these courses. This fact becomes important in the context of increasing the prevalence of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases among the younger population (Nag & Ghosh, 2013).

Yogic training happens to be one of the effective methods of training in developing mental and physical fitness (Bussing, Michalsen, Khalsa, Telles, & Sherman, 2012). It is long-lasting and can be performed at any setup without the requirement of any equipment. Pranayama is one of the vital components of yoga and involves different breathing techniques. There are many studies suggesting the beneficial effects of Pranayama in many clinical conditions (Sharma, Trakroo, Subramaniam, Rajajeyakumar, Bhavanani, & Sahai, 2013; Turankar et al., 2013). However, there are very few studies conducted so far examining influence of Pranayama on mental and physical fitness of University-level students. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of Anuloma viloma and Bhastrika Pranayama on components of physical fitness and mental health of University-level students.


  Methods Top


Subjects

The participants for this study were one hundred and eight (n = 108) University-level students, male and females, age ranging from 17 to 28 years. The selected individuals did not suffer from any acute or chronic physical illness. The informed written consent was obtained from all the subjects. All data-sensitive materials (e.g., permission forms and any data with the participant's name) collected during this study were secured and reporting of them in the results remained anonymous. A strict privacy was maintained toward preserving all sensitive forms.

Experimental design

The selected individuals were divided randomly into two groups, namely experimental group (n = 54) and control group (n = 54). Primarily, at the baseline all the individuals from both groups were assessed for muscular endurance, flexibility, respiratory rate, lung capacity, and mental health (Hakked, Balakrishnan, & Krishnamurthy, 2017; Jagdish & Srivastava, 1983; Nivethitha, Mooventhan, & Manjunath, 2016). The experimental group was subjected to Anuloma-viloma Pranayama and Bhastrika Pranayama 5 days a week for 12 weeks each session lasting for 30–45 min. The training protocol has been presented in [Table 1]. The control group participants were not allowed to participate in Pranayama training schedule; however, they were engaged in recreation activities during the experimental intervention.
Table 1: Distribution of 30-45 min Pranayama training program

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Assessment

Physical fitness variables, i.e., flexibility, and muscular endurance were measured using Cureton's Sit and Reach scale, and sit-ups, respectively. Individuals were asked to keep their arms straight at the shoulder level, horizontal to the ground. The average value was taken as the final value for further analysis. Similarly, three trials were taken during flexibility tests and average value was calculated for further statistical analysis. Respiration rate was measured in resting condition wherein number of breaths per minute was counted. Further, lung capacity was measured using spirometer. The mental health was evaluated with a validated Mental Health Inventory Questionnaire constructed by Jagdish and Srivastava (Jagdish & Srivastava 1983). All the responses were then converted into scores following the guidelines presented in manual.

Statistical analysis

Since the primary outcome variables were physical and physiological fitness and mental, the data collected were analyzed for evaluating mean and standard deviation. Further, within group comparisons were performed using paired t-tests, while between-group comparisons were performed using independent t-tests. The nonparametric data were analyzed using Wilcoxon signed rank and Chi-square test. The statistical analysis was done using SPSS Inc. Released 2007. SPSS for Windows, Version 16.0. (Chicago, SPSS Inc, USA). In all the cases, the level of confidence was fixed at 0.05 to be considered as significant.


  Results Top


The results of within and between group comparison in forced vital capacity (FVC) of experimental and control groups of university-level students have been presented in [Table 2]. The results show significant improvement in FVC (p< 0.01), forced expiratory volume in 1 s (p< 0.01), muscular endurance (p< 0.01), flexibility (p< 0.05), and respiratory rate (p< 0.05) in experimental group whereas control group did not show significant change in FVC, FEV1, muscular endurance, flexibility, and respiratory rate (p > 0.05). The results of between-group comparison showed no significant difference (p > 0.05). The mental health scores have been presented in [Table 3]. The results show that in the experimental group of University-level students initially 20 males and 15 females had poor or very poor Mental Health scores in pretest reading. After intervention, however, only 7 males and 3 females remained in respective groups and these changes in Mental Health scores in pre- and post-test measurement were statistically significant in males as well as females.
Table 2: The effect of Pranayama on physical health parameters

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Table 3: The effect of Pranayama on mental health parameters

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In control group of University-level students initially, 23 males and 11 females had poor or very poor Mental Health cores in pretest reading. After the intervention, only 4 males and 5 females remained in the respective groups and these changes in Mental Health Inventory score grade in pre- and post-measurement was statistically significant for males as well as females. The intergroup comparison of mental health score was statistically not significant between experimental and control group of University-level students for females as well as males at premeasurement and postmeasurement.


  Discussion Top


The experimental group showed significant improvement not only on physical fitness such as muscular endurance and flexibility but also in factors of mental such as autonomy, environmental mastery, perception of reality, and group-oriented attitudes as a result of 12 weeks of Pranayama practice on regular basis. The control group had no significant improvement in mental health and physical fitness variables. Further, improvement in lungs capacity was observed in experimental group whereas there was no significant improvement in control group participants.

In Indian context of higher education, the mental health and physical fitness of the student population is often neglected. The University Grants Commission has recognized this problem and has recommended that health consciousness and physical fitness-related contents must be included in the curricula. The findings of this study are suggestive of physical and psychological benefits of Pranayama performed for 12 weeks. Earlier studies also demonstrated improvement in cardio-respiratory function (Upadhyay, Malhotra, Sarkar, & Prajapati, 2008; Yadav, Singh, Singh, & Pai, 2015; Hakked, Balakrishnan, & Krishnamurthy, 2017; Nivethitha, Mooventhan, Manjunath, Bathala, & Sharma, 2017), autonomic functions (Nivethitha, Mooventhan, & Manjunath, 2016) and physical fitness (Wang, Greendale, Yu, & Salem, 2016; Tran, Holly, Lashbrook, & Amsterdam, 2001). Based on the results, we can safely recommend that Pranayama can be introduced as one of the effective interventions among University-level students in the Indian context.


  Conclusion Top


Anuloma-viloma and Bhastrika Pranayama appear to be effective in improving physical and mental health parameters among healthy University students.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Bussing, A., Michalsen, A., Khalsa, S. B., Telles, S., & Sherman, K. J. (2012). Effects of yoga on mental and physical health: A short summary of reviews. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 165410.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Hakked, C. S., Balakrishnan, R., & Krishnamurthy, M. N. (2017). Yogic breathing practices improve lung functions of competitive young swimmers. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 8 (2), 99-104.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Jagdish, D., & Srivastava, A. K. (1983). Mental health inventory. Agra: National Psychological Corporation.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Nag, T., & Ghosh, A. (2013). Cardiovascular disease risk factors in Asian Indian population: A systematic review. Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research, 4(4), 222-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Nivethitha, L., Mooventhan, A., & Manjunath, N. K. (2016). Effects of various pranayama on cardiovascular and autonomic variables. Ancient Science of Life, 36 (2), 72-77.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Nivethitha, L., Mooventhan, A., Manjunath, N. K., Bathala, L., & Sharma, V. K. (2017). Cerebrovascular hemodynamics during pranayama techniques. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice, 8 (1), 60-63.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Sharma, V. K., Trakroo, M., Subramaniam, V., Rajajeyakumar, M., Bhavanani, A. B., & Sahai, A. (2013). Effect of fast and slow pranayama on perceived stress and cardiovascular parameters in young health-care students. International Journal of Yoga, 6 (2), 104.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Tran, M. D., Holly, R. G., Lashbrook, J., & Amsterdam, E. A. (2001). Effects of hatha yoga practice on the health-related aspects of physical fitness. Preventive Cardiology, 4 (4), 165-170.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
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Turankar, A. V., Jain, S., Patel, S. B., Sinha, S. R., Joshi, A. D., & Vallish, B. N., … Turankar, S. A. (2013). Effects of slow breathing exercise on cardiovascular functions, pulmonary functions & galvanic skin resistance in healthy human volunteers – A pilot study. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 137 (5), 916-921.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Upadhyay, D. K., Malhotra, V., Sarkar, D., & Prajapati, R. (2008). Effect of alternate nostril breathing exercise on cardiorespiratory functions. Nepal Medical College Journal, 10 (1), 25-27.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Wang, M. Y., Greendale, G. A., Yu, S. Y., & Salem, G. J. (2016). Physical-performance outcomes and biomechanical correlates from the 32-week yoga empowers seniors study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016, 6921689.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
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Yadav, A., Singh, S., Singh, K., & Pai, P. (2015). Effect of yoga regimen on lung functions including diffusion capacity in coronary artery disease patients: A randomized controlled study. International Journal of Yoga, 8 (1), 62-67.  Back to cited text no. 12
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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