Efficacy of yoga for mental performance in university students

Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;55(4):349-52. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.120550.


Background: With growing scientific evidence, yoga is emerging as an important health behavior-lifestyle modifying module to achieve holistic health at physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual levels. Brain wave coherence (BWC) recordings from the surface of the skull are associated with different cognitive processes and plays both critical and useful roles in yoga with wide range of functional significance. The psycho-physiological changes that characterize the efficacy of yoga for better mental performance in university students have not been studied adequately.

Objective: The study was designed to assess the mental performance through BWC analysis in university students undergoing Integrated Yoga Module (IYM).

Materials and methods: The IYM subjects (n=30) with 25.77±4.85 years of mean age participated in this single group pre-post study. The BWC data was collected before (pre) and after (post) the 21 days IYM using Brain Master (Model: 2E Part # 390-001), Michigan, USA.

Statistical analysis: Means, standard deviations, Kolmogorov-Smirnov test and Wilcoxon signed rank test were used for analyzing data with the help of SPSS-16.

Results: A complete statistical and spectral analysis showed 43.24% increase (P<0.001) in Delta, 9.13% increase (P=0.289) in Theta, 57.85% increase (P<0.001) in Alpha, 17.65% decrease (P=0.136) in Beta and 9.19% increase (P=0.586) in Gamma BWC between pre and post intervention measurements.

Conclusion: BWC study showed significant increase in both Delta and Alpha wave coherence suggesting that IYM can result in improvement of coherent and integrated brain functioning among students, thus paving the way for their better mental performance. Although this preliminary research is promising, more well-designed studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.

Keywords: Brain wave coherence; mental performance; yoga.