Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Effect of Yoga on Mental Health: Comparative Study between Young and Senior Subjects in Japan

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Effect of Yoga on Mental Health: Comparative Study between Young and Senior Subjects in Japan

Article excerpt

Byline: Derebail. Gururaja, Kaori. Harano, Ikenaga. Toyotake, Haruo. Kobayashi

Background : Japan has a large number of senior citizens. Yoga can be wisely applied in old age care. There is no any age restriction to practice yoga. The effect may differ by age. There is a need to study the mechanism of action of yoga with respect to age. Aim: This study was conducted in Japan to find the effect of yoga on mental health between young and senior people. Materials and Methods: Twenty-five normal healthy volunteers of both sexes were divided into two groups according to age. Fifteen participants of the age group between 65 to 75 years and 10 participants of the age group between 20 to 30 years were selected. This study was approved by the ethical committee of Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare. Selected individuals were subjected to 90 min of yoga classes once or twice a week for a month. Salivary amylase activity was assessed before and after yoga practice. State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was given before yoga on the first day and after one month of practice to assess the change in State anxiety and Trait anxiety. Results : Senior group - Salivary amylase activity decreased from 111.2[+ or -]42.7 to 83.48[+ or -]39.5 kU/L [average[+ or -]standard deviation]. Younger group - Salivary amylase activity reduced from 60.74[+ or -]31.8 to 42.39[+ or -]24 kU/L. Senior group - State anxiety score decreased from 41.13 [+ or -]8.43 to 30.8[+ or -]6.49, Trait anxiety score reduced from 45.66[+ or -]7.5 to 40.73[+ or -]8.3. Younger group - State anxiety score reduced from 38.7[+ or -]4.8 to 30.8[+ or -]4.1,Trait anxiety score reduced from 46.2[+ or -]7.9 to 42.9[+ or -]9.1. Changes were statistically significant with P<0.05. Conclusion: Decrease in Salivary amylase activity may be due to reduction in sympathetic response. Reduction in State and Trait anxiety score signifies that yoga has both immediate as well as long-term effect on anxiety reduction. Thus yoga helps to improve the mental health in both the groups.


Japan is a country with a large number of senior citizens. In the year 2000, the population of people aged above 65 years was 17.3% and in 2009 it has reached 22%. [sup][1] Cancer and heart diseases are the two major causes of death in Japan. Dementia, stress, degenerative joint diseases and respiratory infections are the most common health problems affecting the elderly population. Daycare centers and old age homes are working hard to improve the quality of life of the aged. Different methods are being adopted to improve their lifestyle and keep them active. Music therapy, animal therapy, massage and stretch exercises are among them.

Yoga is an ancient Indian science which helps to improve physical, mental, social and spiritual health. Yoga has found its special existence in Japan by its peculiarities like asana and pranayama. But many consider yoga as an alternate to exercise. Few research works have been conducted in Japan on yoga. There is a need to show that yoga is not merely an exercise system but it has many more health benefits. It can be wisely applied in the old age care to improve the quality of life. Research is needed to understand the mechanism of action of yoga.

Stress is a major factor affecting the mental health of a person irrespective of age. Presentation of the stress may vary from that of fight to flight phenomenon. Chronic stress is the major cause of many physical and mental disorders. [sup][2] Yoga has been effectively used in the management of stress. It has been observed that the practice of yoga decreases verbal aggressiveness compared to physical exercise. [sup][3] It is also useful against physical stress like cold exposure [sup][4] and stress due to diseases like epilepsy. [sup][5] Yoga has been found useful for mental disorders like depression. [sup][6] In a study conducted by Oken et al. , on healthy seniors participants were divided into three groups as yoga, exercise and waitlist control. …

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