Yoga Mimamsa

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2021  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 100--108

Effect of short duration integrated classroom yoga module on physical, cognitive, emotional and personality measures of school children


Atul Sinha, Sony Kumari 
 Department of Yoga and Humanities, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Atul Sinha
103 Regent Place, 28/2 Thubrahalli, Whitefield Road, Bengaluru - 560 066, Karnataka
India

Abstract

Context: Despite evidence of therapeutic benefits of yoga on school children, many schools do not include yoga in their daily schedule. Reasons cited are lack of time and resources. An efficacious short duration integrated classroom yoga module (ICYM) can overcome such problems. Aim: This study aimed to test the effect of such a yoga module on physical fitness, cognitive performance, emotional wellbeing, and personality characteristic of school children. Methods: The design was a randomized controlled trial with participants sourced from grades 7–10. The intervention period was 2 months. The primary outcome measures were 4 tests from the EUROFIT physical fitness testing battery, Stroop color-word naming task, Rosenberg self-esteem scale, WHO-5 wellbeing index, and Sushruta Child Personality Inventory. Statistical analysis used a repeated measure analysis of variance. Secondary outcome measure was a qualitative assessment. Results: The yoga group showed significant differences compared to the control group in 2 of 4 physical fitness variables, Stroop color-word naming task, and in the WHO-5 wellbeing index. Conclusion: ICYM is a validated, feasible, and efficacious school-based short-duration integrated yoga module. It can be considered for incorporation into the daily school schedule.



How to cite this article:
Sinha A, Kumari S. Effect of short duration integrated classroom yoga module on physical, cognitive, emotional and personality measures of school children.Yoga Mimamsa 2021;53:100-108


How to cite this URL:
Sinha A, Kumari S. Effect of short duration integrated classroom yoga module on physical, cognitive, emotional and personality measures of school children. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 May 28 ];53:100-108
Available from: https://www.ym-kdham.in/text.asp?2021/53/2/100/333355


Full Text



 Introduction



UNICEF estimated that an alarming 10%–20% of the world's 2.2 billion child and adolescent population was afflicted by mental health problems (Kieling et al., 2011). The National Mental Health Survey (2016) in India found that 7.3% of adolescents suffered at least one condition of mental morbidity (Gururaj et al, 2016). In the USA 7.5% of adolescents met the DSM-IV criteria for one or more mental health conditions (Kessler & Wang, 2008). These findings suggested that young people needed social-emotional learning (Butzer, Bury, Telles, & Khalsa, 2016). Further, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Commission on the Whole Child (ASCD), felt the need to go beyond cognitive development and educate the whole child defined as intellectually active, physically, verbally, socially, and academically competent; empathetic, kind, caring and fair; creative and curious; disciplined, self-directed and goal-oriented; free, critical thinker, confident and cared for and valued (Hyde, 2012).

Growing modern research evidence suggests that yoga is efficacious in developing the whole child. Traditional texts of yoga too articulate a vision of education as laying the foundations of character and personality through self-transformation (Niranjanananda, 2009).

Many school-based studies have found that yoga was beneficial for children. A meta-analysis by Galantino, Galbavy, & Quinn (2008) found that yoga positively impacted physiological health variables such as reaction time, motor speed, musculoskeletal strength, and cardio-pulmonary measures. Another meta-analysis by Zenner, Herrnleben-Kurz, & Walach (2014) showed that cognitive performance, stress levels, resilience, and emotional balance improved with mindfulness interventions. Serwacki & Cook-Cottone (2012) reviewed 12 studies and reported that yoga positively impacted cognitive efficiency, attentional control, emotional balance, anxiety, reactivity, and negative behavior. A study found that sattva (controlled illuminative energy) increased while rajas (uncontrolled active energy) and tamas (uncontrolled inert energy) reduced with yoga intervention, resulting in a tranquil personality (Patil & Nagendra, 2014).

Many Indian studies have reported the beneficial effects of yoga on physical, cognitive, and emotional measures of school children. It had a beneficial effect on physical fitness (Purohit, Pradhan, & Nagendra, 2016). It impacted cardiopulmonary health positively (Shivakumar, Suthakar, & Urs, 2016). Yoga was significantly associated with memory, attention, and executive function (Chaya, Nagendra, Selvam, Kurpad, & Srinivasan, 2012; Verma, Shete, & Singh Thakur, 2014). It improved self-esteem, self-adjustment, and self-efficacy (Bhardwaj & Agrawal, 2013; Bhardwaj & Bhardwaj, 2015; Das, Deepeshwar, Subramanya, & Manjunath, 2016). Yoga reduced anxiety (Gusain & Dauneria, 2016).

Despite awareness of the benefits of yoga, most schools either have not incorporated yoga in the curriculum or have done so sub-optimally, usually one session a week. The reasons cited are paucity of time and resources such as yoga rooms and yoga instructors. We argue that unless a solution is found to overcome these problems it will be difficult to incorporate yoga into the daily school schedule. We hypothesize that a short-duration integrated classroom yoga module (ICYM) instructed by the class teacher will have a positive impact on physical fitness, cognitive performance, emotional wellbeing, and personality characteristics. Such a module can overcome the cited problems and allow for yoga's inclusion in the daily school schedule. Traditional texts too support the practice of yoga in the classroom (Satyananda, 1990, p 50-56, 110-132).

Studies conducted so far on classroom yoga suffer from methodological infirmities, small sample sizes, and non-standard interventions. Studies by Butzer et al. (2015), Chen & Pauwels (2014), and Lawson, Lisa Cox, & Blackwell (2012), used once a week intervention, yoga-based activities, and a modified form of yoga respectively in uncontrolled pilot studies with small sample sizes. These studies found directional improvements in stress reduction, emotional wellbeing, and behavior. A study by Telles, Gupta, Gandharva, Vishwakarma, Kala, & Balkrishna (2019) used an 18-min pranayama intervention for 3 days and reported a positive impact on attention and anxiety. It is evident that the current research on short-duration classroom yoga is clearly inadequate and there is a need for a methodologically sound study.

The present study aimed to evaluate the effect of a previously validated ICYM (Sinha, Kumari, & Ganguly, 2021), on physical, cognitive, emotional, and personality measures. These measures were chosen since they formed the major components that defined the whole child. Specific tests used were (i) EUROFIT physical fitness testing battery since it was a comprehensive field test, (ii) Stroop color-word naming task since it was a reliable test of neurophysiological function, (iii) Rosenberg self-esteem scale since self-esteem is associated with other mal-adaptations, (iv) WHO-5 wellbeing index since it was a key desired outcome in social-emotional learning, and (v) Sushruta Child Personality Inventory (SCPI) measuring gunas, since it indicated a tranquil personality.

 Methods



Participants

The study sourced participants from two urban campuses of Samsidh Mount Litera Zee School, Bengaluru, INDIA. One campus provided the yoga group and the other the control group. All students from Grades 7–10 who met the inclusion criteria participated in the study.

The sample size for physical fitness tests was restricted to 98 (yoga = 48, control = 50) because the administration of the tests required significant time and resources. Randomization was achieved by setting quotas for each grade and drawing from paper slips. For the cognitive performance test the sample size was 253 (yoga = 143, control = 110). For the emotional wellbeing tests the sample size was 244 (yoga = 137, control = 107). For the personality characteristic test the sample size was 254 (yoga = 148, control = 106). Randomization was achieved since both control and intervention groups were drawn from the same grades of the two campuses. However, drawing the control group from one campus and the experimental group from another campus resulted in unequal randomization. The sample sizes for cognitive performance, emotional wellbeing and personality characteristic tests varied marginally due to nonavailability of students on account of absenteeism or participation in other activities on the days the tests were administered. The detailed participant characteristics are given in [Table 1].{Table 1}

The inclusion criteria were (i) participants from Grades 7–10, (ii) of both genders. The exclusion criteria were (i) major illness or surgery in the last two months, (ii) any mental health issue, (iii) any condition contraindicating physical activity. A signed informed consent was obtained from the school principal (dated July 10, 20 19). The study was approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee of S-VYASA University (RES/IEC-SVYASA/145/2019).

Design

The design of the study was a randomized controlled trial with pre-post assessments. The intervention period was 2 months with 5 days a week of yoga practice. The study was conducted in July-September 2019. The design profile is given in [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

Yoga intervention

The intervention used was the 12-min ICYM. The module was systematically developed based on literature review, expert-validated and efficacy confirmed in a pilot study (Sinha, Kumari & Ganguly, 2021). Class teachers were given systematic training to conduct the sessions. The detailed module is shown in [Table 2].{Table 2}

Assessment

The primary outcome measures comprised (i) 4 tests from the EUROFIT physical fitness testing battery (Kemper & Van Mechelen, 1996), (ii) Stroop color-word naming task (Jensen & Rohwer Jr., 1966), (iii) Rosenberg self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1965), (iv) WHO-5 wellbeing index (Topp, Østergaard, Søndergaard, & Bech, 2015) and (vi) SCPI (Suchitra & Nagendra, 2013). The secondary outcome measure was a qualitative assessment of the experience, benefits, and feasibility.

EUROFIT fitness testing battery

The EUROFIT fitness testing battery is a field test. Components of fitness were identified by factor analysis ensuring test reliability. Despite noncomparability with isometric tests, the coefficient of correlation nevertheless ranged from 0.43 to 0.82, where a score of .60 is considered good validity. Many Indian studies have used this test (Telles, Singh, Bhardwaj, Kumar, & Balkrishna, 2013; Karkera, Swaminathan, Pais, Vishal, & Rai, 2014; Purohit, et al., 2016).

Flamingo balance test

Participants balanced on a narrow wooden bar on one leg. The number of falls in 60 s was recorded.

Sit and reach flexibility test

Participants sat on the floor with both legs stretched and touching the base of a measuring table. They stretched fully and the distance stretched was recorded from the measuring scale on the tabletop.

Sit-ups trunk strength

Participants were required to lie on their back with knees bent, hands behind their heads, and perform sit ups. The number of sit-ups in 30 s was recorded.

10 m × 5 m shuttle run agility test

Cones were kept at 10 m distance. The participants ran to the cone and back five times. The timing of the run was recorded.

Stroop color-word naming task

The Stroop color-word task measures the participant's control over neuropsychological functions involved in color, word, and an interference naming response. The reliabilities of the basic scores are high ranging from 0.71 to 0.88. The scale has been used extensively in Indian studies (Prakash Dubey, Abhishek, Gupta, Rastogi, & Siddiqui, 2010; Telles et al., 2013; (Purohit & Pradhan, 2017); Vanitha, Suresh, Chandrasekar, & Punita, 2017; Suresh, Jagadisan, Kandasamy, & Senthilkumar, 2018).

The test consists of three pages. The first page tests how fast the participant can read out words. The second page tests how fast the participant can call out colors. The third page tests the speed with which the participant can name the color of the ink and disregard the word printed in that ink-color. The correct number of words, colors, and ink-colors called in 45 seconds is recorded.

Rosenberg self-esteem scale

The Rosenberg self-esteem scale is a self-report scale that measures global self-esteem. The scale demonstrates a coefficient of reproducibility of 0.92 and test-retest reliability of 0.85 which are considered excellent. The scale has been used extensively in Indian studies (Schmitt & Allik, 2005; Sethi, Nagendra, & Ganpat, 2013; Jhambh, Arun, & Garg, 2014; Pal, Sharan, & Chadda, 2017; Ramanathan, Bhavanani, & Trakroo, 2017).

WHO-5 wellbeing index

The WHO-5 wellbeing index is a self-report scale. It has 5 items measuring emotional wellbeing. Experts have given this scale a high rating on clinimetric validity. Predictive validity too is high. Many Indian studies have used this scale (Chaturvedula & Joseph, 2007; Agger, Raghuvanshi, Shabana, Polatin, & Laursen, 2009; Puri, Sapra, & Jain, 2013; Firdaus, 2017; (Sinha, Kumari & Ganguly 2021).

Sushruta Child Personality Inventory

The SCPI is a self-report scale measuring personality characteristics. The scale is based on the concept that the mind is always in a dynamic equilibrium between three types of energies called gunas namely sattva (controlled illuminative energy), rajas (uncontrolled active energy) and tamas (uncontrolled inert energy). Wellbeing is disturbed when rajas and tamas dominate (Deshpande, Nagendra & Raghuram, 2008). The scale has a Cronbach alpha score of over 0.60 making it reliable. Validity was ensured by selecting items which were supported by factor analysis. Patil & Nagendra (2014) have used this scale in an Indian study.

Qualitative assessment

The qualitative assessment aimed to get insights into (i) the experience, (ii) perceived benefits, (iii) drivers and barriers to continued practice. The methodology used was focus group discussions conducted by a professional qualitative researcher. Two groups of randomly selected (drawing from paper slips) students and one group of class teachers participated in the study.

Data analysis

At the first level, pre-intervention and postintervention means of the yoga group and control group were compared independently using paired sample t-test. At the next level repeated measure analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA) was carried out for each variable. The within-subjects factor was time (preintervention and post-intervention). The between-subjects factor was Groups (yoga and control). The alpha level was set at p < 0.05. The assumptions of sphericity measured by Mauchly's test and homogeneity of variance measured by Levene's test were satisfied. The raw data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 26, IBM, Armonk, NY, USA.

 Results



EUROFIT physical fitness testing battery

In the yoga group, the paired sample t-test was associated with statistically significant pre-post differences in all the four tests (p < 0.001). The effect size for flexibility (d = 0.78) and strength tests (d = 0.91) were large. For balance (d = 0.53) and agility tests (d = 0.53), they were medium. In the control group the difference in means were statistically significant in balance (p < 0.001) and flexibility tests (p < 0.007) only. The effect size for flexibility test was small (d = 0.40) and for balance test medium [d = 0.56; [Table 3].{Table 3}

In the RM-ANOVA test, there was sufficient evidence to reject the intervention effect null hypothesis for sit and reach flexibility test (p < 0.001) and sit ups trunk strength test (p < 0.001). The effect size for flexibility test was nearly large (ƞ2p = 0.243) and for strength test medium (ƞ2p = 0.185). There was insufficient evidence to reject the intervention effect null hypotheses for Flamingo balance test (p < 0.465) and 10 m × 5 m shuttle run agility test [p < 0.133; [Table 4].{Table 4}

Stroop color-word naming task

In the yoga group, the paired sample t-test was associated with statistically significant pre-post differences in all three scores (p < 0.001). The effect size for word (d = 0.62) and color scores (d = 0.63) were medium. For color-word score, it was large (d = 0.99). In the control group, the difference in means was statistically significant in all the three scores (p < 0.001). The effect size was small for word (d = 0.35) and color scores (d = 0.47). It was medium for color-word score [d = 0.55; [Table 3]].

In the RM-ANOVA test, there was sufficient evidence to reject the intervention effect null hypothesis for Stroop color-word score (p < 0.001). The effect size was small (ƞ2p = 0.06). There was insufficient evidence to reject the intervention effect null hypotheses for word (p < 0.07) and color scores [p < 0.074; [Table 4]].

Rosenberg self-esteem scale

In both the yoga and control groups, the paired sample t-test was associated with statistically insignificant pre-post differences [p > 0.05; [Table 3]].

In the RM-ANOVA test, there was insufficient evidence to reject the intervention effect null hypothesis [p < 0.057; [Table 4]].

WHO-5 well-being index

In the yoga group, the paired sample t-test was associated with statistically significant pre-post difference (p < 0.001) with small effect size (d = 0.33). In the control group, the difference was statistically insignificant [p < 0.097; [Table 3]].

In the RM-ANOVA test, there was sufficient evidence to reject the intervention effect null hypothesis (p < 0.001). The effect size was small [ƞ2p = 0.055; [Table 4]].

Sushruta Child Personality Inventory

In the yoga group, the paired sample t-test was associated with statistically significant pre-post differences in rajas (p < 0.011) and tamas (p < 0.004) scores with small effect sizes (d = 0.21; d = 0.24) and insignificant difference in sattva score (p < 0.516). In the control group, the pre-post difference was statistically significant in sattva (p < 0.044) and tamas scores (p < 0.020) with small effect sizes (d = 0.20; d = 0.23). It was statistically insignificant for rajas score [p < 0.647; [Table 3]].

In the RM-ANOVA test, there was insufficient evidence to reject the intervention effect null hypotheses for all three scores [p > 0.05; [Table 4]].

Qualitative assessment

The variety in the module due to a mix of postures, breathing, and meditation made the practice enjoyable. Students reported improvements in fitness, stamina, and increased participation in sports. Both students and teachers were most enthusiastic while reporting cognitive benefits. Students reported better concentration, grasp of concepts, and recall of lessons. Teachers felt that the students had developed a more positive attitude towards academics. Students credited the meditative practice with instilling calmness, increased patience, and reduced stress. Teachers felt that discipline had improved. Students reported that they felt friendlier. Teachers noticed a greater social cohesion. Both students and teachers felt that the short duration of the practice, its convenience, and benefits made the ICYM acceptable for continued practice.

 Discussion



The present study hypothesized that ICYM will impact fitness, cognitive performance, emotional wellbeing, and personality characteristic of school children. In the study, the yoga group showed significant differences compared to the control group in 2 out of 4 EUROFIT tests, in the Stroop color-word score and the WHO-5 emotional wellbeing index. The test of significance (p-value) tells us that there is a statistical difference between the means of the experimental group compared to the control group. However, it does not tell us the extent of the difference. This is measured by the effect size. It is a measure of how much variation in the dependent variable is due to the independent variable. In the present study, the results showed that the effect size in the fitness tests was medium to large while in the cognition and emotional wellbeing tests they were small. We argue that small effect sizes in some tests should not be dismissed since every little improvement in children's wellbeing is encouraging.

The qualitative assessment buttressed the benefits shown in the quantitative study. Its findings were in consonance with previous qualitative research that reported the perceived benefits as kinesthetic awareness, improved self-image, stress reduction, self-regulation of emotions, and social cohesion (Conboy, Noggle, Frey, Kudesia, & Khalsa, 2013).

We now compare the results of the ICYM with studies that used longer-duration yoga modules. A study by Purohit, et al. (2016), found significant differences in the yoga group in 9 out of 11 EUROFIT variables. It can be concluded that the impact of the ICYM on physical fitness is somewhat in conformity with a longer duration module. A study using the Stroop test (Purohit & Pradhan, 2016), reported a significant improvement in the yoga group with medium effect size. The ICYM also showed a significant improvement albeit with a small effect size. Studies using longer duration yoga modules have reported improvements in self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-confidence, self-concept, mood disturbance, tension-anxiety, negative affects with medium effect sizes (Benson et al., 1994; Noggle, Steiner, Minami, & Khalsa, 2012; Bhardwaj & Bhardwaj, 2015; Bhardwaj & Agarwal, 2013; Das et al., 2016). The ICYM was associated with a significant improvement in emotional well-being with a small effect size.

Since ICYM is classroom yoga module we have compared the results with other studies that used classroom yoga interventions. An uncontrolled pilot study by Butzer, et al. (2015) reported some behavior improvement and stress reduction. Another uncontrolled study used a15-min yoga activity as intervention and showed directional improvements in mental, social, and physical wellbeing (Chen & Pauwels, 2014). A quasi-experimental study by Lawson et al. (2012) used a 10-min modified yoga intervention and found minimal improvements in fine motor skills and academic measures. A study by Telles et al. (2019) used an 18-min Pranayama intervention for 3 days and reported improvements in attention and anxiety reduction. Though suffering from some methodological infirmities like short periods of intervention, non-standard modules, and teacher-reported assessments, they all point to directional improvements in behavior, stress, emotional wellbeing, cognition, and academic measures. The present study used a validated classroom yoga module, randomized controlled design and longer period of intervention to show improvements that were directionally demonstrated by earlier studies.

The question arises as to why the ICYM positively impacted physical, cognitive, and emotional measures. One possible reason could be that the module itself had been developed methodically. It was an integrated practice incorporating asana (physical postures), pranayama (breathing practice), dhyana (meditation), and mantra (chanting). The practices were specifically selected for their impact on physical wellbeing, mental calmness, stress reduction, and impact on concentration. They had been sequenced in a manner that the physical postures involved full-body movement namely sideways-forward-backward bending, stretching, and balancing. The breathing exercises too included full breathing, balancing breathing, and an inward focusing practice. Chanting and meditation promoted calmness, stress reduction, and concentration. The second possible reason was that the convenience of the module made it possible to practice daily. We speculate that the daily practice may have contributed strongly to its efficacy. The third reason was that we know from modern research that yoga is related with physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits. This module may have worked because it is a shorter version of a proven practice.

 Conclusion



It may be concluded that the short duration ICYM can be considered for inclusion in the daily school schedule when it is not feasible for a longer duration module to be included.

The study has substantial strengths: (i) ICYM was a systematically developed and validated module, (ii) the research design and sample size were robust, (iii) the variables covered the major domains defined as the whole child, (iv) the quantitative study was supplemented with a qualitative assessment.

The limitations of the study were: (i) unequal randomization, (ii) lack of follow-up assessments. Future studies could specialize in assessing multiple variables within each benefit category. Longitudinal studies could strengthen the findings of this study. Classroom yoga modules for different age groups could be developed and tested.

Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge the cooperation of the Samsidh Mount Litera Zee School management, teachers, and especially the enthusiastic young students.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.[48]

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