A Randomized Control Trial of the Effect of Yoga on Verbal Aggressiveness in Normal Healthy Volunteers

Article excerpt

Byline: Sudheer. Deshpande, H. Nagendra, Nagarathna. Raghuram

Objective: To study the effect of yoga on verbal aggressiveness in normal healthy adults. Methods : Of the 1228 persons who attended introductory lectures, 226 subjects of both sexes who satisfied the inclusion and exclusion criteria and who consented to participate in the study were randomly allocated into two groups. These 226 subjects were between the ages of 17 and 62 years and 173/226 completed the eight weeks of intervention. The Yoga (Y) group practised an integrated yoga module that included asanas, pranayama, meditation, notional correction, and devotional sessions. The control group practised mild to moderate physical exercises (PE). Both groups had supervised practices (by trained experts) for one hour daily, six days a week for eight weeks. Verbal Aggressiveness was assessed before and after eight weeks using the self-administered Verbal Aggressive Scale. Results : The baseline score of the two groups did not differ significantly ( P = 0.66). There was a significant decrease in verbal aggressiveness in the yoga group ( P = 0.01 paired samples t-test) with a nonsignificant increase in the PE group. ANCOVA using pre- values as covariates showed a significant difference between the groups ( P = 0.013). RMANOVA for interaction between the sexes or age groups in change scores were not significant. Conclusions : This study has demonstrated that an eight week intervention of an integrated yoga module decreased verbal aggressiveness in the yoga group (in males and those below 25 years of age), with a nonsignificant increase in the PE group.

Introduction

Although global scientific and technological progress is evidence of human intelligence and creativity, emotional hypersensitivity and aggression have increased.[sup] [1]

Violence remains one of the greatest public health threats to youth. Intentional injuries due to violence comprise the second leading cause of death of US adolescents,[sup] [2] as well as a substantial proportion of morbidity[sup] [3],[4] such as elevated depressive symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder.[sup] [5] Irritability and emotional outbursts are other manifestations of violence that could be measured. The verbal aggressiveness scale is a measure of violence that has been used in earlier studies.[sup] [6] Verbal aggressiveness is defined as an attack on an individual's self-concept instead of, or in addition to the person's position on a topic of communication, to inflict psychological pain.[sup] [7] A message must attack the self-concept of the receiver if it is to be considered as verbally aggressive message.[sup] [8] It was found that people who are high in the verbal aggression trait, differ significantly from those low in verbal aggression trait in terms of their use of these messages.[sup] [8]

Yoga which encompasses several techniques including physical postures, breathing techniques (Pranayama) and meditation has become very popular for its applications in health starting from better physical fitness[sup] [9] to a better quality of life in cancer patients.[sup] [10] Yoga has been used effectively for stress reduction that has resulted in biochemical[sup] [11] and physiological[sup] [12] changes. Several studies have highlighted the psychological benefits of integrated yoga practices such as anxiety, neurosis,[sup] [13],[14] and depressive illness.[sup] [15],[16] The clinical potential of yoga as a self-control technique for improving and stabilizing affective states was studied by Harvey. In a three armed study, Harvey compared yogic breathing exercises with two control groups (a course on the philosophy of meditation and a course in psychology) and demonstrated that yogic breathing exercises showed an improvement in mood and vigor as well as decreased tension, fatigue, and depression relative to subjects in control groups.[sup] [17] The mood benefits of Hatha yoga and swimming compared in college students showed that yoga was as effective as swimming in decreasing anxiety, confusion, tension and depression, and that the acute decreases after yoga were significantly greater than after swimming for men who were personally selected to participate. …