Effects of yogic exercises on mental functions at high-altitude acclimatization

M.R. Panwar, Vimla Asnani & W. Selvamurthy
Defence Institute of Psychological Research

It has been widely accepted now that yoga can endow perfect physical and mental health to its practitioner. The series of research studies conducted earlier suggested probable application of yoga as an anti-stress method, which may be useful for our armed forces personnel. The objective of the study was to find out whether practice of yogic exercises prior to attitude induction as well as during stay at high altitude (HA) will be useful in improving the health and operational efficiency of troops posted at HA. The study was conducted on 30 soldiers divided into 3 groups. Group I: practised the routine physical exercise of P.T. Programme; Group II: performed selected Hatha Yogic Exercises (asanas and pranayama); and Group III: was to perform endurance type of physical training. These 3 types of exercise schedules were administered regularly for one hour daily for a period on one month on the plains before the subjects were taken to HA. The subjects continued to perform these 3 types of exercises regularly during two months stay at HA. Psychological variables like choice reaction time, eye-hand coordination, test of simple decision making, vigilance and two tests related to personality problems were administered at the commencement of the study; after one month training in 3 exercise regime at plains as well as periodically during stay at HA and on return to sea-level again. The result of the study shows that yoga helped in maintaining reaction time, motor coordination and better vigilance activities in comparison to other control and PT groups.

This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002