alan little’s weblog

yoga for squaddies?

11th July 2004 permanent link

A search on “subject:yoga” in the Indian Journal of Medical Research online archive in fact comes up with only one result, namely this study of a group of soldiers by the Indian Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences:

One group (yoga, n=17) practiced Hatha yogic exercises for 1 h every morning (6 days in a week) for six months. The other group (PT, n=11) underwent conventional physical exercise training during the same period. Both groups participated daily in different games for 1 h in the afternoon. In the 7th month, tests for maximal oxygen consumption (VO2Max) and PE were repeated on both groups of subjects.

Results: Absolute value of VO2Max increased significantly (P<0.05) in the yoga group after 6 months of training. The PE score after maximal exercise decreased significantly (P< 0.001) in the yoga group after 6 months but the PT group showed no change.

Interpretation & conclusion: The practice of Hatha yogic exercises along with games helps to improve aerobic capacity like the practice of conventional exercises (PT) along with games. The yoga group performed better than the PT group in terms of lower PE after exhaustive exercise.

Interesting. I do rather doubt, though, that producing superfit soldiers is really what Patanjali had in mind. Not to mention that this sort of thing does throw into question the standing of Indians to criticise western yoga students for an “overly materialistic” attitude if this is what their own researchers get up to.

OK, tongue somewhat in cheek - I do believe this sort of research is interesting and worthwhile, as long as people don't confuse it with what yoga practice is actually about.

related entries: Yoga

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