Summary and critique by: Kevin Muvunyi
A group of researchers conducted a study in 2005 to determine the effects of practicing yoga, a widely renowned relaxation and meditation method in the world, on the mood of 113 inpatients at the New Hampshire Hospital. Prior to the start of the research exercise, inpatients were directed to answer a Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire. This questionnaire which is a measure of the six major negative emotion factors was also handed out to be completed by the inpatients at the end of each yoga session and this for a total period of ten days. The inpatient group used in the study was comprised of a total of 59 women and 52 men.
As a result of the study, the researchers were able to observe that practicing yoga demonstrated a positive effect on five of the six major negative emotion factors on the POMS. Namely the tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, fatigue-inertia, and confusion-bewilderment emotional elements. On the other hand, participating in yoga sessions showcased no positive effect on the sixth PMOS factor, which is vigor-activity. Moreover, the researchers noted that the participation of an individual in more yoga classes than his peers had no substantial consequence on his overall mood.
Globally the initiators of the research concluded that yoga could prove to be an efficient technique to reduce stress levels and mental illness symptoms amongst patients in highly restrictive and controlled areas such as hospitals based on their observations. Nonetheless, they conceded that due to the uncontrolled nature of the study, further research was required to validate their findings. The researchers also pointed to the possibility of their study being inaccurate based on the premise that the inpatients completed the POMS forms with a prior intent of satisfying the perceived expectations of those conducting the research.
Overall the study was well designed with a sufficient sample size to make substantial observations. Nonetheless, the uncontrolled nature of the experiment suggests that the findings of the research exercise are inaccurate. Further research, should explore the possibility of introducing a control group in the experiment, and also seek to explain the reason behind the inefficacy of the yoga technique in regards to improving the emotional factor of “vigor” in a mentally ill individual.