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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 10-15

Yoga for academic performance: A brain wave coherence analysis


Department of Yoga and Management, S-VYASA University, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication29-Jan-2015

Correspondence Address:
Tikhe Sham Ganpat
Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Prashanti Kutiram, 19, Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram Circle, Kempegowda Nagar, Bangalore - 560 019, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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  Abstract 

Background : Optimal stress brings out a student's best; however, extremes of stress can result in stress-induced disorders and deteriorating performance. Yoga is known to bring positive effect on personality development in students. Can yoga be beneficial in enhancing orderliness of brain functioning leading to increased academic performance in university students? Objective : To assess immediate effect of Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama (NSP), Bhramari Pranayama (BP), Om Meditation (OM), Pranic Energization Technique (PET), and Mind Sound Resonance Technique (MSRT) on brain wave coherence (BWC) in university students. Materials and Methods: Two hundred and thirty-four students in the range of 18-30 years of age and 21.63 ± 3.60 (mean ± SD) years of mean age were selected for the present study from a university at Bangalore, India. They were divided in two groups, 117 subjects in each group: yoga group (NSP = 15, BP = 30, OM = 29, PET = 27, and MSRT = 16) and control group (NSP = 15, BP = 30, OM = 29, PET = 27, and MSRT = 16). Brain wave coherence (BWC) data were collected immediately before and after the intervention (pre recorded session of 24 minutes in NSP, BP, OM, PET and MSRT to yoga group and sitting quietly with the eyes closed for the same duration in control group) using Brain Master 2 Channel EEG version 2.0 for clinical from Bio Medical Instruments, Inc., Warren, Michigan, USA. Results: The significant increase in delta was observed in BP, OM, PET, and MSRT. Similarly, significant increase in theta was also observed in BP and PET. Moreover, significant increase in alpha was found in BP and OM whereas significant increase in beta was noted in BP. It was also recorded that there was significant increase in gamma in NSP, BP and MSRT. There was no significant change observed in control group of yogic practices. Conclusion: The immediate effect NSP, BP, OM, PET, and MSRT on BWC compared with controls shows that these yogic practices are related with increased orderliness of brain functioning, which is essential for good academic performance. Additional well-designed studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.

Keywords: Academic performance, brain wave coherence, orderliness of brain functioning, university students, Yogic practices


How to cite this article:
Sankhla H, Ganpat TS, Pailoor S, Zala K, Some P, Ranjan M, Agarwal M. Yoga for academic performance: A brain wave coherence analysis. Eur J Psychol Educ Studies 2014;1:10-5

How to cite this URL:
Sankhla H, Ganpat TS, Pailoor S, Zala K, Some P, Ranjan M, Agarwal M. Yoga for academic performance: A brain wave coherence analysis. Eur J Psychol Educ Studies [serial online] 2014 [cited 2019 May 20];1:10-5. Available from: http://www.ejpes.org/text.asp?2014/1/1/10/150267


  Introduction Top


Optimal stress brings out a student's best; however, extremes of stress can result in stress-induced disorders and deteriorating academic performance. [1],[2] Academic performance is essential to provide opportunities for students to work together in improving their understanding of concepts in their academic health core. Academic performance helps students to teach problem-solving and collaborative learning strategies. [3] Educational institutions play an important role in encouraging student engagement, and engagement has been shown to be one of the many factors that is positively involved in academic achievements of university students. [4] More specifically, it was reported that encouraging student's engagement in yoga activities enhances their overall personality development. [5] Yoga, which is a way of life, has been found to be an effective tool in reducing stress levels. [6],[7] Yogic practices are characterized by balance, health, harmony, and bliss, [8] which consists of Kriya (yogic purification processes), Sukshma Vyayama (loosening and stretching practices), Asanas (physical postures), Pranayama (breathing techniques) such as Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama (NSP), Bhramari Pranayama (BP), etc., Krida Yoga (yogic games), Bhajan (devotional sessions), meditation practices such as Om Meditation (OM), Pranic Energization Technique (PET), and Mind Sound Resonance Technique (MSRT) to bring about an overall personality transformation at physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual levels. [9]

Coherence is the condition of synchrony between the waves generated in the hemispheres of the brain, whereas brain wave coherence (BWC) is the recording of electrical activity of different brain waves from the surface of the skull. [10] BWC is associated with different cognitive processes and plays both critical and useful roles in yoga, with a wide range of functional significance including stress reduction [6] and enhanced academic performance. [11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20] Similarly, it was reported that alpha waves were higher in persons performing meditation with good coherence, which suggested good homogeneity, uniformity, and increased orderliness of brain mediators, as compared to that in control group. [21] As mentioned earlier, a student under optimal stress does bring out his or her best; however extremes of stress can result in stress-induced disorders and deteriorating performance. Can yoga be beneficial in enhancing orderliness of brain functioning leading to increased academic performance in university students? The present study examines whether there is an immediate effect of yoga-based NSP, BP, OM, PET, and MSRT on BWC in university students.

Objective

To assess immediate effect of NSP, BP, OM, PET, and MSRT on academic performance in university students undergoing BWC recordings


  Materials and Methods Top


Subjects

Two hundred and thirty-four students in the range of 18-30 years of age with 21.63 ± 3.60 (mean ± SD) years of mean age were selected for the present study from S-VYASA University, Bangalore. They were divided in two groups: 117 subjects in each group: Yoga group (NSP = 15, BP = 30, OM = 29, PET = 27, and MSRT = 16) and control group (NSP = 15, BP = 30, OM = 29, PET = 27, and MSRT = 16).

Inclusion Criteria: Healthy students with exposure to yogic practices and willing to participate

Exclusion Criteria: Students taking medication, psychiatric drugs, alcohol, or tobacco in any form or using any other wellness strategy

Design

Two groups (yoga and control) pre-post: Randomized control trial

Intervention

NSP: It is an alternate nostril breathing technique [22],[23] in a pre-recorded format was practiced in sitting on the chair by yoga group (NSP) participants for 24 minutes, whereas control group were asked to sit quietly with their eyes closed for the same duration.

BP: It is a technique in which one inhales through both nostrils and while exhaling, produces sound of female humming bee. [24] The instructions in a pre-recorded format were practiced in sitting on the chair by yoga group (BP) participants for 24 minutes, whereas control group were asked to sit quietly with their eyes closed for the same duration.

OM: The technique of meditating and mental chanting of OM [25],[26] in a pre-recorded format was practiced in sitting on the chair by yoga group (OM) participants for 24 minutes, whereas control group were asked to sit quietly with their eyes closed for the same duration.

PET: PET is a novel method of meditation based on the Vedic tradition, which uses techniques of breathing and visualization for calming the mind and for capturing and intentionally directing Prana ("vital energy") wherever necessary. [27] The PET technique in a pre-recorded format was practiced in sitting on the chair by yoga group (PET) participants for 24 minutes, whereas control group were asked to sit quietly with their eyes closed for the same duration.

MSRT: The practice of MSRT [28],[29] in a pre-recorded format was given to the MSRT group. MSRT works on the principle of resonance, which is created by repetition of mental sounds throughout the body. The Mahamrutyunjaya Mantra and Pranav (Om or AUM) and its components (A, U, M) were used in MSRT. The resonance of the body occurs when the chanting frequency coincides with the natural frequency of the body. The control group participants were asked to sit quietly with their eyes closed for the same duration as MSRT session (24 minutes). This MSRT [Table 1] was developed using concepts from traditional texts that talk about the power of Om (Mandukya Upanishad) and Nadanusandhana (Hatha Yoga Pradipika) for achieving internal mastery over the modifications of the mind (Patanjali's definition of yoga). [30] MSRT opens up the secret of traditional chants called Mantras. [29]
Table 1: Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama

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Assessments

In this study, we used BrainMaster two-Channel EEG version 2.0 from Bio-Medical Instruments, Inc., Warren, Michigan for BWC recording, [31],[32] which records brain waves and through an inbuilt software, gives the coherence values of delta (d), theta (θ), alpha (α), beta (β), and gamma (g) waves. We collected BWC data using electrode locations C3 and C4 referenced to linked earlobes, with the ground at the forehead. We kept the electrode impedances below 10 KΩ to ensure noise-free, accurate, and good brain wave recordings. [13],[14] The sampling frequency was 256 Hz. Protocol of setting file was brain wave pro 2 channel alpha synchrony. Run of length was 10.0 minutes. We studied BWC immediately before and after the intervention for both yoga (NSP, BP, OM, PET, and MSRT) and control subjects. During BWC recording, all subjects were resting on the chair with their eyes closed for 24 minutes in the research laboratory of S-VYASA University.

Data collection

BrainMaster calculates and displays coherence for different components as delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma. In addition, we can set a threshold between 0.01 and 0.99 for training. The operator can select any or all of the components for sound feedback; hence, coherence training was easy. In addition, we can show the coherence on the summary screen, and read it from the Excel spreadsheet containing the minute-by-minute statistics. Coherence between 0.0 and 0.4 in brain wave is not significant, because random signals can have a small amount of coherence. However, coherent values above 0.5 and especially exceeding 0.6 are significant for brain wave training. [33]

Statistical analysis

All statistical analyses were carried out using the version 16.0 of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. Tests of Normality using Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test showed that the data were normally distributed (P > 0.05). Further, Paired Samples Test was used for analyzing the data. Results were presented as Mean ± SD. P value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant with different significance levels expressed as ***P < 0.001, **P < 0.01, and *P < 0.05).


  Results Top


After comparing pre- and post-measurements in yoga (NSP, BP, OM, PET, and MSRT) and control groups, a complete statistical analysis of BWC using Paired Samples Test showed following results:

NSP: Overall 57.96% significant increase (P = 0.001) in gamma waves. Similarly, there was an increase in all other brain wave rhythms, which was not significant, whereas in the control group, there was no significant change was found in BWC [Table 1].

BP: Overall 40.86% significant increase (P < 0.001) in delta waves, 32.19% significant increase (P < 0.001) in theta waves, 20.09% significant increase (P = 0.010) in alpha waves, 24.97% significant increase (P = 0.007) in beta waves, and 41.32% significant increase (P < 0.001) in gamma BWC. In control, there was no significant change [Table 2].
Table 2: Bhramari Pranayama

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OM: About 24.50% significant increase (P = 0.028) in delta and 35.48% significant increase (P = 0.004) in alpha BWC. There was no significant change in other BWC rhythms of OM group as well as in its control group [Table 3].
Table 3: Om Meditation

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PET: About 25.77% significant increase (P = 0.001) in delta and 17.47% significant increase (P = 0.033) in theta BWC. There was no significant change in other BWC rhythms of PET group as well as in its control group [Table 4].
Table 4: Pranic Energization technique

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MSRT: The Wilcoxon's Signed Rank Tests showed significant increase in delta BWC (P = 0.002) in MSRT group compared to control group (P = 0.501). Similarly, the Paired Samples Test showed significant increase in gamma BWC (P = 0.012) in MSRT group compared to control group (P = 0.686). There were no significant changes observed in other BWC rhythms in MSRT group as well as in its control group [Table 5].
Table 5: Mind sound resonance technique

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  Discussion Top


Brain activity is associated with different cognitive processes and plays a critical role in different yogic practices. [6],[34],[35] BWC analysis is a technique that investigates the pair wise correlations of power spectra obtained from different electrodes. It measures the functional interaction between cortical areas in different frequency bands. A high level of coherence between two signals indicates a co-activation of neuronal populations and provides information on functional coupling between these areas. [35] Previous report on BWC showed significant increase in alpha BWC suggesting that yoga-based Self Management of Excessive Tension program develops the ability to heal and manage stress in corporate executives. [10] Similarly, there was significant increase in both delta and alpha BWC in university students reporting that Integrated Yoga Module can result in improvement of coherent and integrated brain functioning among university students, thus paving the way for their better mental health performance. [36] Yoga is the best lifestyle modification, which aims to attain the unity of mind, body, and spirit through Asana (exercise), Pranayama (breathing), and meditation. [37] While practicing Pranayama one concentrates on the act of breathing, which removes focus from worries and "de-stresses" them. This stress-free state of mind evokes relaxed responses, in which parasympathetic nerve activity overrides sympathetic activity. [38]

The emergence of the slow frequency waves in BP and PET strongly supports the existing claims of frontal theta in producing meditative state along with trait effects in attention processing. [34] Interestingly, predominance of slow wave potentials (delta) is associated with voluntary pain control. [39],[40] Therefore, yogic practices such as BP, OM, PET, and MSRT, in which delta BWC was increased, can induce the state of deeper relation of body and mind, demonstrating the capacity of voluntary pain control. Similarly, it was reported that alpha waves were higher in persons performing meditation with good coherence, which suggested good homogeneity, uniformity, and increased orderliness of brain mediators as compared to that in control group. [21] Hence, BP and OM are best yogic practices to induce balanced mental activity. In the present study, the practice of NSP, BP, and MSRT generate controlled high-frequency gamma waves consistent with the previous reports induces parasympathetic dominance signifying relaxed state of mind. [41],[42] The increase in beta and alpha observed in the present study during BP and OM practices compared to control has a balancing effect on the functional activity of the left and right hemisphere. [43]


  Conclusion Top


The immediate effect of yogic practices (NSP, BP, OM, PET, and MSRT) on BWC when compared with controls suggests that yogic practices may be associated with increased orderliness of brain functioning, which may enhance academic performance in university students. Although this preliminary research is promising, well-designed studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.

 
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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]



 

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