Those who practiced Yoga during Covid lockdown reported lower stress, depression and anxiety, study shows

Yoga practitioners had lower stress, anxiety and depression, higher wellbeing and a higher peace of mind during 4-10 weeks of lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak last year as compared to the non-practitioners, according to a study by researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.

The study titled ‘Yoga an effective strategy for self-management of stress-related problems and wellbeing during Covid-19 lockdown: A cross-sectional study’ was recently published in a scientific journal PLOS ONE.

The research study was carried out by a team of scientists from the National Resource Centre for Value Education in Engineering (NRCVEE), an academic centre at IIT Delhi. NRCVEE promotes interdisciplinary research in various areas of inner sciences and aims in cultivating a strong value culture among the students and the faculty.

The research team includes Dr Pooja Sahni and Nitesh at NRCVEE, professor Kamlesh Singh, Humanities and Social Sciences Department and professor Rahul Garg, Head, NRCVEE.

The IIT Delhi researchers led by Sahni carried out the study on a total of 668 adults during Covid-19 lockdown, between April 26 and June 8, 2020. The participants were grouped as; yoga practitioners, other spiritual practitioners, and non-practitioners based on their responses to daily practices that they follow. Yoga practitioners were further examined based on the duration of practice as; long-term, mid-term and beginners, according to a statement issued by the institute.

The findings include that long term practitioners reported higher personal control and lower illness concern in contracting Covid-19 than the mid-term or beginner group. The long- term and mid-term practitioners also reported perceiving lower emotional impact of Covid-19 and lower risk in contracting Covid-19 than the beginners.

The general wellbeing was reported higher by the long term and mid- term practitioners than the beginners group. Further, the long term practitioners were found to have highest peace of mind, lowest depression and anxiety with no significant difference in the mid-term and the beginner group, according to the findings.

“Our study has mapped the effect of yoga on the cognitive and emotional problems of Covid-19, besides showing beneficial effects of yoga on general wellbeing during adversity. Evidence supports that yoga was found as an effective self- management strategy to cope with stress, anxiety and depression, and maintain wellbeing during Covid-19 lockdown,” said Sahni.