Yoga Mimamsa

: 2021  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4--11

Impact of Sanskrit prosody on anxiety, mindfulness, and self-concept in young adolescents: A four-armed control trial

Mollika Ganguly1, Sriloy Mohanty2, Sampadananda Mishra3, Sanjib Patra4, Monika Jha2,  
1 Division of Yoga and Humanities, SVYASA Yoga University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Center for Integrative Medicine and Research, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
3 Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, India
4 Department of Yoga, Central University of Rajasthan (CURaj), Ajmer District, Rajasthan, India

Correspondence Address:
Sanjib Patra
Central University of Rajasthan, Bandarsindri, Ajmer, Rajasthan


Background: Upsurge in anxiety and struggle with self-concept commonly appears during adolescence. Chanting of many forms have been established to improve emotional personality features. Aim and Objectives: We conducted a four-armed comparative study to explore the capacity of Chanda/prosody to impact anxiety, mindfulness, and self-concept in young adolescents. Material and Methods: A total of 140 students (12.12 ± 0.74 years) were screened, out of which 138 met the inclusion criteria and were allocated into four groups: humming a Chanda, chanting a Sanskrit verse, reading an English phrase (EP), and silent sitting. Baseline and postintervention data were collected using the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale, Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale for Children, and Children's Self-Concept Scale. Result: Our study results reveal that there was a significant reduction in anxiety levels in the humming group and few domains of anxiety in the chanting group as well. The mindfulness scores were significantly improved in all the four groups including the humming and chanting groups after the interventions. Conclusion: There was no effect on self-concept scores in the humming group whereas the chanting group had a significant improvement in self-concept scale.

How to cite this article:
Ganguly M, Mohanty S, Mishra S, Patra S, Jha M. Impact of Sanskrit prosody on anxiety, mindfulness, and self-concept in young adolescents: A four-armed control trial.Yoga Mimamsa 2021;53:4-11

How to cite this URL:
Ganguly M, Mohanty S, Mishra S, Patra S, Jha M. Impact of Sanskrit prosody on anxiety, mindfulness, and self-concept in young adolescents: A four-armed control trial. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Dec 5 ];53:4-11
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Adolescence is the transition period where a child experiences immense neurodevelopmental changes which then impacts cognitive abilities, emotions, self, and social judgment (Paus, Keshavan, & Giedd, 2008). The maturation of subcortical structures due to hormonal changes in puberty is associated with emotions (Davidson et al., 2002), decision-making, and reward-seeking tendencies (Harden et al., 2018). With the onset of puberty which is characterized by physical, psychological, and hormonal transformation (Goddings et al., 2014), greater emotional and social involvement takes place (Viner et al., 2012) and a higher sense of reputation damage or enhancement is also prevalent due to peer presence and how it perceives the society. Hence, there is a great amount of difference in the way an adolescent makes his discussions compared to that of an adult (Somerville, 2013). Research shows that onset of varied psychological disorders heightens during the period of adolescence (Kessler et al., 2005). Some common comorbidities found in adolescence in the United States as reported by a previous study are internalizing, including fear and distress, and externalizing, including behavior and substance use (Kessler et al., 2014). Anxiety (Weymouth & Buehler, 2016), depression, and substance use are among many common problems in adolescence requiring adaptable strategies (Teesson et al., 2020).

Self-concept is an attribute of an individual which means the perceptions and beliefs of a person related to their feelings, attitude, social acceptance, and skills impacting their behavior making them to accept varied responsibilities in life (Scatolini, Zanni, & Pfeifer, 2017). Piers and Herzberg defined self-concept as “a relatively stable set of attitudes reflecting both description and evaluation of one's own behaviours and attribute” (Piers, Dale, & David, n.d.) and friends play a significant role in the development of self-concept in adolescence (Romund et al., 2017). Studies suggest that there is a vivid connection between emotional intelligence and mindfulness and both can be enhanced with direct classroom intervention in adolescence (Rodríguez-Ledo, Orejudo, Cardoso, Balaguer, & Zarza-Alzugaray, 2018). Mindfulness is basically a quality of consciousness and refers to having absolute awareness of the present moment. It has been proven to be highly useful in regulating emotions, dealing with stress, Psychological Well-being (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007; Osman, Lamis, Bagge, Freedenthal, & Barnes, 2016), and psychological functioning (Baer, 2003). Moreover, regular practice of mindfulness has shown favorable outcomes in enhancing sustained attention (Schmertz, Anderson, & Robins, 2009) and improved capacity to deal with depression (Fennell, 2004), mood, and anxiety, particularly in adolescents (Schonert-Reichl & Lawlor, 2010). Mindfulness programs have also had commendable medical outcomes in ability to manage chronic pain (McCracken & Thompson, 2009), fibromyalgia (Grossman, Tiefenthaler-Gilmer, Raysz, & Kesper, 2007), and cancer-related distress (Carlson & Brown, 2005). It has been seen that increase in negative emotions reduces happiness and higher emotional variability, causing emotional disturbances leading behavioral problems in adolescence (Beauchaine, Gatzke-Kopp, & Mead, 2007), thus mindfulness practices are recommended to improve stability and reduce reactive tendency during stressful situations (Ashe, Newman, & Wilson, 2015).

Various measures such as cognitive-behavior therapy, high intensity intermittent games-based activity, and mindfulness competence development program have been experimented and proved worthy to help an adolescent with anxiety, emotions, mindfulness, improved cognitive abilities, and enhanced self-concept (Cooper et al., 2018; Rodríguez-Ledo et al., 2018; Warwick et al., 2017). Studies also show that yoga can help in enhancing psychological fitness while superbrain yoga has shown positive results in reducing anxiety in adolescence (Choukse, Ram, & Nagendra, 2019; Kumar, Singh, & Prof, 2017). Mantra chanting, a key element of yoga, has also been effective in improving performance IQ (Chamoli et al., 2017), executive function (Pradhan & Derle, 2012), and reading accuracy (Colwell & Murlless, 2002) in children. Chanda/prosody is an important component of chanting. Chanda are pauses and rhythm in Sanskrit poetry and are categorized according to certain rules based on the number and arrangement of syllables, the arrangement of pauses, and the number of syllabic instants in verse. In classical Sanskrit poetry, there is a wide range of prosodies/Chanda. Among these Chanda, Totakam (Mishra, 1999) is a popular Chanda with a very simple pattern, hence compatible for children to follow. While there are a lot of studies on the beneficial effects of chanting, there is not any study that shows the impact of Chanda/prosody element of chanting. Our study is thus aimed at finding out the effect of the prosody element, i.e., the rhythm and pauses in chanting and its impact, with or without the verses on anxiety, cognitive abilities, and mindfulness in young adolescence.

 Materials and Methods

Trial design

The current study was a comparative four-armed parallel-group trial, conducted in a CBSE school in South Bangalore, India. All subjects, after recruitment were allocated into four groups, i.e., Humming the prosody, i.e., Chanda without actual chanting (Humming a Chanda [HC] group), Chanting a mantra (CM group), reading an English phrase (EP group), and silently sitting (SS group) according to sections of respective grades in school. The training and the assessments were carried out during school hours. There was no stratification or blinding done in this study. [Figure 1] represents the trail profile of the study. The project was approved by the institutional ethical committee and written consent was obtained from the parents of all participants and the children gave a verbal approval after we explained the detailed procedure of the research trial.{Figure 1}


An Indian CBSE school was approached, and 140 students aged between 12 and 13 years (mean age: 12.11 ± 0.76 years) of Grades 7 and 8 were screened for the study. Both boys and girls were considered in the study. Out of these 140 students, 138 were recruited who met the inclusion criteria. Children having any kind of learning disability and visual or verbal impairment were excluded from the study. Hence, two students were excluded from the trial for having learning disabilities as reported by the school authorities, based on the information given by their parents. Information such as the demographic details, such as children's health status and development and mother language, was collected from the parents and school records. All the students were from middle or high economic backgrounds and were able to understand and write English language.


The current research trial had four groups which were (1) humming the prosody or rhythmic recitation without actual chanting (HR group), (2) chanting a Mantra (CM group), (3) EP group, and (4) silently sitting (SS group). The HC group was oriented into learning the rhythm of reciting a Chanda called Totakam. Totakam is a yoga-based recitation with a very simple pattern and has 12 syllables where every third syllable is elongated. The reason for this intervention group was to nullify the effect of words or the meaning of verse from chanting, completely. The CM group children were made to learn a Sanskrit verse called Madhurashtakam, in Totakam Chanda, which was written by Shri Vallabhacharya.

The EP group was taught an English phrase, “When your happiness is dependent upon what is happening outside of you, constantly you live as a slave to the external situation” by Jaggi Vasudev, widely known as Sadhguru, and the silent sitting (SS) group was requested to sit in silence observing their thoughts with their eyes closed.

All the four groups were asked to practice their respective interventions for 5 min, 3 times a day, making it a 15-min intervention every day. This was done during the school hours once in the beginning of the 1st period, once at noon, and once before home time. Groupwise training was carried out in separate rooms, provided by the school. Every 10 students had one volunteer teacher to administer and report adherence of their practice. The CM and HR groups were trained by the authors who are experts in reciting the yoga recitations. The phrasing, smoothness, and pace were closely monitored by the authors as rhythm is the most important part of rhythmic yoga recitations which is our primary intervention.


Spence Children's Anxiety Scale

Spence Children's Anxiety Scale is a tool to measure anxiety in children. It is a self-measure tool with 44 items out of which 38 items are further categorized into six subscales of specific anxiety such as social phobia, separation anxiety, panic attack/agoraphobia, obsessive–compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety, and physical injury fears and the remaining 8 items are positive fillers. Children are asked to response with the frequency in which these symptoms occur on a four-point scale ranging from never (scored 0) to always (scored 3). Total score is then calculated by summing up the scales of all 38 anxiety symptom items (Spence, Barrett, & Turner, 2003). It is a highly reliable tool to measure anxiety in school-going adolescence (alpha = 0.92) (Essau, Muris, & Ederer, 2002).

Children's Self-Concept Scale

Self-concept or self-esteem is an important construct of a child's psychology and has been studied by a large number of researchers using standardized tools (Kwan, John, & Thein, 2007). The Children's Self-Concept Scale was originally proposed by Piers & Harris and it has a multidimensional theory of self-concept which is global feelings and specific feelings: global feelings meaning “how a person feels about himself in general” and specific meaning “how a person feels about himself in a specific area of functioning” (Piers & Harris, 1969). This scale consists of 80 items of self-concept further divided into six subdomains, namely intellectual and academic status (17 items), behavior (16 items), anxiety (14 items), appearance (13 items), popularity (12 items), and satisfaction (10 items) (Yang et al., 2013). Children's Self-Concept Scale is a highly consistent tool with an alpha of 0.91 (Scatolini et al., 2017).

Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale for Children

The Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) was originally developed by Brown & Ryan (Brown & Ryan, 2003) and is one of the most popular instruments to measure mindfulness (Ruiz, Suárez-Falcón, & Riaño-Hernández, 2016). A children's version of this scale was later developed and validated in the year 2011, which showed that MAAS for Children Mindful Attention Awareness Scale - Children (MAAS-C) had high internal consistency (e.g., Cronbach's alpha) and a one-factor solution. The MAAS-Children (MAAS-C), as well as a battery of measures assessing a corpus of dimensions of well-being, includes self-concept, optimism, positive and negative effect, school efficacy, classroom autonomy and supportiveness, depression, and anxiety (Lawlor et al., 2014).


Demographic details of the participants are presented in [Table 1]. There were no significant changes in the domains of the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale for children when compared between groups. However, there was a significant difference in the domains of SA, SP, PD, PIF, and GA in the chanting group and PD and GA in the humming group during within-group analysis (p < 0.05). MAAS for children reported no significant difference when compared between groups. However, there was a significant difference in all the groups on within-group analysis. [Table 2]. represents the results of Spence children's Anxiety scale and MAAS-C. A significant change was noticed in the domains of anxiety, intellectual and school status, physical appearance and attributes, and the total scores of the self-concept scale in all the four groups after the interventions. On pairwise group comparisons, the change in the domain of anxiety was significant for the chanting versus English phrase reading, chanting versus humming, and chanting versus SS (p < 0.05). When intellectual and school status for English phrase reading was compared to the SS group, a significant difference was depicted (p < 0.05). Furthermore, physical appearance and attributes scores and total scores were found significantly improved for chanting versus humming but only total scores in the humming versus SS groups. There was a significant change in all the domains except happiness and satisfaction after chanting (p < 0.01). However, participants in the English phrase reading group also showed a significant increase in the scores of anxiety and total scores of the self-concept scale after intervention (p < 0.01 and p = 0.03). There was a reduction in the anxiety levels for the humming group whereas increase in all anxiety scores in the remaining three groups. [Table 3] represents the result for Children's Self-concept Scale.{Table 1}{Table 2}{Table 3}


Adolescence is a sensitive period for emergence of anxiety (Leigh & Clark, 2018). Anxiety and peer relations are major concerns in early adolescence (Erath, Flanagan, & Bierman, 2007). Difficulty in emotional regulation is closely associated to both social and generalized anxieties among adolescents (Mathews, Kerns, & Ciesla, 2014). Self-concept is impacted with transition in middle school children (Onetti, Fernández-García, & Castillo-Rodríguez, 2019). The concept of mindfulness has lately gained a lot of attention due to its capacity to influence self-regulatory processes (Baldus et al., 2018)

Chanting has been used for ages to overcome psychological and emotional disturbances (Perry, Polito, & Thompson, 2021), but the individual component of chanting that is Chandas or prosody has not been studied so far. We attempted to specifically understand the impact of Chanda (rhythm or pauses) used in chanting with four groups to eliminate the factors of words, their meanings. In the current study, we evaluated the effect of humming of “Totakam” Chanda on anxiety among children aged between 12 and 14 years. There was a significant improvement in self-concept scores in the humming and chanting groups. There was also a significant reduction in anxiety in the chanting group when compared to the other three groups in between-group analysis. There were no changes in the anxiety levels of the children allocated to the humming group, however, the chanting group showed improvement in the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale.

As per our knowledge, this is the first scientific effort made to explore and analyze the impact of Chandas on domains such as anxiety, mindfulness, and self-concept. We specifically chose this age group as young adolescence is such a vulnerable age where all sorts of delinquent behavior tend to increase (Moffitt, 1993). Although we managed to get a sample size of 138 students to have a minimum of 30 in each group, we could not randomize them as they were in 4 different sections and moving them for intervention was not allowed by the school management which was one drawback of the study. Furthermore, since the subject was new to the school management and not much work is out there for reference, we got permission to conduct our study only for 30 days which is not sufficient to notice the significance of our intervention. In spite of the above challenges, this study will make a firm base for further research on Chandas and its impact in various domains.


Humming of Sanskrit prosody has reported an overall reduction in anxiety levels when compared to the remaining three groups. However, there was a decrease in the anxiety levels in the chanting group as well. There was a significant increase in the mindfulness scores in the humming as well as chanting groups. There was no change observed in the self-concept scales in the humming group.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.[48]


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