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Evaluation of a specialized yoga program for persons with a spinal cord injury: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Authors Curtis K, Hitzig SL, Bechsgaard G, Stoliker C, Alton C, Saunders N, Leong N, Katz J

Received 17 December 2016

Accepted for publication 21 March 2017

Published 3 May 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 999—1017


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval

Kathryn Curtis,1 Sander L Hitzig,2,3 Gitte Bechsgaard,4 Candice Stoliker,5 Charlene Alton,3 Nicole Saunders,3 Nicole Leong,6 Joel Katz1

1Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, York University, 2St John’s Rehab Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 3Lyndhurst Centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, 4Vidya Institute, 5Student Life, University of Toronto, Toronto, 6Community Care Access Centre, London, ON, Canada

Objectives: The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to evaluate the effects of a specialized yoga program for individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) on pain, psychological, and mindfulness variables.
Materials and methods: Participants with SCI (n=23) were outpatients or community members affiliated with a rehabilitation hospital. Participants were randomized to an Iyengar yoga (IY; n=11) group or to a 6-week wait-list control (WLC; n=12) group. The IY group participated in a twice-weekly 6-week seated IY program; the WLC group participated in the same yoga program, after the IY group’s yoga program had ended. Pain, psychological, and mindfulness measures were collected at two time points for both groups (within 1–2 weeks before and after program 1 and at a third time point for the WLC group (within 1 week after program 2).
Results: Linear mixed-effect growth models were conducted to evaluate the main effects of group at T2 (postintervention), controlling for T1 (preintervention) scores. T2 depression scores were lower (F1,18=6.1, P<0.05) and T2 self-compassion scores higher (F1,18=6.57, P<­0.05) in the IY group compared to the WLC group. To increase sample size and power, the two groups were combined and analyzed across time by comparing pre- and postintervention scores. Main effects of time were found for depression scores, (F1,14.83=6.62, P<0.05), self-compassion, (F1,16.6=4.49, P<0.05), mindfulness (F1,16.79=5.42, P<0.05), mindful observing (F1,19.82=5.06, P<0.05), and mindful nonreactivity, (F1,16.53=4.92, P<0.05), all showing improvement after the intervention.
Discussion: The results indicated that a specialized 6-week yoga intervention reduced depressive symptoms and increased self-compassion in individuals with SCI, and may also have fostered greater mindfulness.

Keywords: spinal cord injury, Iyengar yoga, depressive symptoms, self-compassion

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