A comparative study of psychological distress among practitioners and non-practitioners of Yoga

Sudha, P., Jyotsna, G.N., Sumita, K. & Nalini, B.

There has been a growing concern in our country about the inappropriateness of applying western models of psychotherapy. A need for principles and practices based on the Indian ethos and the socio-cultural milieu is widely recognized. Yoga is gaining prominence as a psychophysiological system of self-regulation with therapeutic implications. Long term practitioners show voluntary control over autonomic process and lower levels of neuroticism. Thus, the objective of the study was to see if there is a difference in the prevalence and intensity of psychological distress between yoga practitioners and non-practitioners as measured by the GHQ-28. 40 medium-term practitioners and 40 non-practitioners were matched according to their ages and were administered the GHQ-28. A cut-off score of 5 and above was taken as an indication of caseness. Results revealed significant differences in psychological distress between the two groups. The non-practitioners also scored higher on each individual dimension of the GHQ-28. Also more number of non-practitioners showed caseness as against the practitioners, majority of whom were normal. This points out that yoga could be a valuable tool in establishing and maintaining health and well being of individuals.

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

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002