Background: Numerous studies have reported long and short term effects of Yoga training on reaction time (RT), but few have evaluated differential effects of training in asana and pranayama. Hence the present study was done to elucidate effects of such differential training on RT in health professions students attending Yoga training. Materials: 134 healthy young adults studying BSc Nursing at KGNC were recruited for the study and informed consent obtained from them. 89 from 1st year were randomly divided into two groups and 44 of them received one week of training in asana while 45 received parallel training in pranayama. 45 control subjects were recruited from 2nd year that didn’t receive Yoga training but were coming to CYTER for clinical posting. Auditory and visual RT (ART and VRT) were measured before and after the one week study period and appropriate statistical methods applied for intra and inter group comparisons. Results: Both asana and pranayama training resulted in significant (p<0.001) shortening of ART and VRT, while ART was significantly (p<0.05) prolonged in controls with no significant change in VRT. Intergroup comparisons revealed that these changes were more pronounced following pranayama training especially with regard to VRT. Discussion: The present study provides evidence that even a short term, one week training in asana and pranayama can shorten RT in novices and that this is more pronounced in case of pranayama training. These changes may be attributed to enhanced central processing ability resulting from better sense of perception, sensitivity, alertness and awareness occurring as a result of Yoga practice. As pranayama practice tends to be more introspectional (with eyes closed), this may have more pronounced effects than asana where awareness is more externalized in novices. It is also plausible that the conscious alterations of respiratory patterns may influence ascending pathways resulting in more pronounced changes after pranayama. It is suggested that Yoga training of even a short duration can enhance central processing ability and that such training especially in pranayama may be utilized to enhance learning capabilities in students of health professions education.
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