|Year : 2023 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 12-21
Effect of Prana vidya practices on cognitive abilities of adolescents: A randomized control trial
Prem Prabhu1, Paran Gowda1, Girish Chandra2
1 Department of Yoga Science, University of Patanjali, Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India
2 Department of Statistics, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India
|Date of Submission||06-Jun-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||06-Jan-2023|
|Date of Web Publication||03-Feb-2023|
Mr. Prem Prabhu
House No. 13, Near Siddharth Paradise Panditwari, Dehradun - 248 006, Uttarakhand
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Context: Prana vidya practices (PVPs) have been found to be effective in improving intelligence quotient and performance quotient previously. This article is the sequel to previous research and investigates the effect of PVPs on the selected cognitive abilities of adolescents. Aim: To study the effect of the PVPs (Prana Vidya Practices for Consciousness Enrichment [PVPCE]), a prana visualization-based technique, on the cognitive abilities associated with (i) Six-letter cancellation task (SLCT) and (ii) Corsi block-tapping task (CBTT). Subjects and Methods: The present study was a randomized control trial carried out to examine the effect of a 5-week Prana vidya intervention on the cognitive abilities of adolescents. As an intervention, the practices of the PVPCE technique were given every day for 35 min. A sample size of 36 adolescent participants (14 boys and 22 girls) was obtained for this study. Statistical Analysis: The descriptive statistics (average value, standard deviation, and standard error of the mean) were obtained. The paired t-test for performance comparison along with Cohen's d test and repeated-measure analysis of variance between pre- and post-situations were also performed. Results: The results of the study show that in the experimental group, total attempts (TA) and net attempts (NA) of SLCT were significantly increased (P < 0.05); however, there was no significant change in the wrong attempts. In the CBTT, total scores and Corsi span also significantly increased (P < 0.05) in both the forward and backward directions. The PVPCE practices are most effective for SLCT-TA, SLCT-NA, and forward total score. Conclusion: The results suggest that PVPs (PVPCE technique) improve cognitive abilities associated with letter cancelation and block tapping tasks.
Keywords: Agya chakra, cognitive abilities, corsi block tapping task, Prana vidya, psychomotor performance, six letter cancellation task, spatial memory
|How to cite this article:|
Prabhu P, Gowda P, Chandra G. Effect of Prana vidya practices on cognitive abilities of adolescents: A randomized control trial. J Appl Conscious Stud 2023;11:12-21
|How to cite this URL:|
Prabhu P, Gowda P, Chandra G. Effect of Prana vidya practices on cognitive abilities of adolescents: A randomized control trial. J Appl Conscious Stud [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Oct 4];11:12-21. Available from: http://www.jacsonline.in/text.asp?2023/11/1/12/369136
| Introduction|| |
The Sanskrit term “prana” means “vital life energy,” which is the subtle existence of physicality and essential for sustaining life, according to the Upanishads (Manasa et al., 2020). The term “vidya” means knowledge, wisdom, science, etc., in Sanskrit ( Vidya, 2021)). Prana vidya entails a variety of subtle practices that include the use of specific pranayama, visualization, and body awareness (Saraswati, 2001).
The numerous examples of visualization practices are found in various yogic and Vedic texts, such as Jyoti and Sookshma dhyana given in Gheranda Samhita (Ch. 6, verses 1–8) (Kuvalayanand, 2018), meditation techniques given in Vigyana Bhairava Tantra in verses 28–29 (Singh, 1991), and in Dhyanabindu Upanishad in verses 18–20, 27–36 (Acharya, 2005), and Kriya Yoga (Paramahansa, 1997). Besides it, the visualization of prana is the basis of techniques such as Pranic Healing (PH) (Sui, 1990), Yoga Prana Vidya (YPV) (Rajagopal et al., 2019), Pranic Meditation (Castellar et al., 2014), and Add-On Yogic Prana Energization Technique (Oswal et al., 2011), which have demonstrated beneficial effects on both physical and mental health.
Prana visualization works upon the principle “energy follows thought” (Sui, 2004), in which prana is directed to the desired location with the help of intention and is used in various ways. Both Prana vidya methods, prana visualization and pranayama (voluntarily regulated yoga breathing techniques (Telles and Singh, 2013) work upon prana, but the difference is that pranayama involves voluntary breath regulation and breath awareness (Gupta et al., 2019), whereas prana visualization is based on intention.
Pranayama was found effective at improving cognitive functions in healthy subjects (Kuppusamy et al., 2021; Sharma et al., 2014). BAW improved primary working memory, spatial memory, and spatial attention in a block tapping task (Gupta et al., 2019). The six-letter cancellation test (SLCT) (Diller et al., 1974) measures cognitive functions such as selective and focused attention, visual scanning, as well as activation and inhibition of rapid responses (Chattha et al., 2008). The Corsi block-tapping task (CBTT) (Corsi, 1972) is an assessment of visuospatial working memory, but it also involves spatial attention (Brunetti et al., 2014). Both tasks were used in the present study to assess cognitive abilities.
Prana Vidya Practices for Consciousness Enrichment (PVPCE), which is a prana visualization-based technique, significantly increased the scores of intelligence quotient (IQ) and performance quotient (IQ) in adolescents (Prabhu et al., 2022). The present study examines the effect of a 5-week PVPCE intervention on the cognitive abilities of adolescents. This technique consists of a group of five PVPs that work upon pranic visualization such as transmittance of prana, storing or localization of it, pranic-pathway purification, and brain energization.
Pranayama, another prana-based method, has been found in numerous studies to be effective at enhancing cognition. In this context, similar prana practices based on pranic visualization needed to be investigated on cognition; this study is an effort to investigate the effect of PVPs on selected cognitive abilities, although, to the knowledge of the authors, these practices are already being on an individual level under the observation of Yogis and spiritual Gurus.
| Subjects and Methods|| |
Participants were recruited from various schools in Dehradun, Uttarakhand State, India. The obtained sample size was 36, using the G-power software (Erdfelder et al., 1996) on the basis of effect size (Cohen's d = 0.28 [medium], power = 0.90) derived from the total attempts (TA) of SLCT from a previous study (Telles et al., 2019). All the participants were aged between 11 and 16 years, and there were 14 boys and 22 girls among them.
The following were the inclusion criteria for the participants to be chosen for the current study were: (i) healthy participants who did not have any ongoing medical conditions, including (a) the presence of any bodily or mental disease, (b) a history of any chronic psychological or neural disease, and (ii) who willingly desired to participate in this study.
Signed consent forms were obtained from the parents of the participants along with their oral approval to participate in this study. The study was approved by the institutional ethics committee of the University of Patanjali, Haridwar, India.
The randomized control trial (RCT) a rigorous tool to examine the cause-effect relationships between an intervention and outcome, were used to measure the effectiveness of the proposed intervention PVPCE and balancing the participant characteristics through the randomization [Figure 1]. In this RCT, participants were assigned to one of two groups (A-experimental or B-control) using the method of random number generation. The random number generator in the data analysis tool in MS Excel was used to generate the random numbers and allocate them into the groups. In Group A, there were eight boys and ten girls; in Group B, there were six boys and 12 girls. The intervention was conducted online via the Zoom Cloud Meetings application for 5 weeks between May and June 2021, in accordance with COVID-19 instructions. This process was completed by the team of authors. The participants received regular instructions throughout the practice. The assessment was conducted offline and on an individual basis by the instructor with the help of two volunteers. To avoid the bias in study results, Participants were prevented from knowing those details, which might somehow influence them. Signed consent forms were obtained from the parents of the participants, along with their oral approval to participate in this study. Within 3 days of the intervention's completion, posttest data were collected. Baseline demographic details of the study groups are given in [Table 1].
|Figure 1: Schematic diagram for the design of the study. CBTT: Corsi block-tapping task, PVPCE: Prana Vidya Practices for Consciousness Enrichment|
Click here to view
Corsi block-tapping task
Conventionally, cubical blocks are used in the physical version of the CBTT. However, several computer-based forms have also been developed for this test (Brunetti et al., 2014). The computerized version of CBTT programmed by Psychology Experiment Building Language (PEBL) software (Mueller, 2011) was used in this study.
In this task, there are nine square blocks that appear on the computer screen [Figure 2], and in each trial, random blocks are highlighted, each block for 1000 ms. The participant needs to memorize the order of lighting the blocks successively and then replicate it by clicking on the respective blocks. Following each response, the screen displays “CORRECT” or “INCORRECT” mimicry. After three practice trials, the scored testing begins with the lighting of two blocks, and with two exact responses, the difficulty level increases, whereas the task is terminated after two consecutive wrong trials. There exists a default time interval of 1000 ms between the lighting of two consecutive blocks as well as between two consecutive trials (Hazarika and Dasgupta, 2020). At the end of the task, the following variables are calculated: (i) forward block span or forward Corsi span, (ii) forward total scores (F-TS), (iii) backward block span (B-Bl Sp) or backward Corsi span, and (iv) backward total scores (B-TS), where block span represents the longest sequence correctly memorized by the participant and the total score is the product of the block span and the number of correct trials. A sample of the Corsi task along with forward and backward tapping is illustrated in [Figure 2].
|Figure 2: Visual representation of CBTT in both the forward and backward directions. CBTT: Corsi block-tapping task|
Click here to view
This task consists of a test worksheet that contains the six target letters to be canceled and a “working section” that contains random letters of the alphabet arranged into 14 rows and 22 columns. The participants are tasked with canceling as many target letters as possible within the allotted time of 1 min and 30 s. They are asked to choose any of two possible strategies: (i) canceling all target letters simultaneously or (ii) canceling them one by one. They are given the choice of following a horizontal, vertical, or random path (Natu and Agarwal, 1997). In the scoring section, TA, wrong attempts (WA), and net attempts (NA) are calculated, where NA is obtained by deducting WA from TA.
The PVPCE technique (Prabhu et al., 2022), which consists of five distinct 35-min practices, was given as the intervention to the experimental group for 5 weeks, one session per day. The control group received no intervention during the study period. This technique entails the following practices:
These practices include sitting in any of Padmasana (lotus pose), Ardhapadmasana (half lotus pose), or Sukhasana (cross-legged simple pose), making Gyana mudra (gesture of wisdom), and chanting Omkar (AUM; ॐ in Sanskrit).
Storing the prana
This practice involves the visualization of transmitting prana into the spine and storing it with inhalation and exhalation, respectively.
Pranic pathway purification
This practice involves the visualization of transmitting prana into the spine and then toward the brain's middle region from here with inhalation and exhalation, respectively.
Shambhavi mudra and prana transmittance into the agya chakra
The first step of this practice involves gazing at the middle of the forehead (Shambhavi mudra), and in the second step, prana is transmitted through the visualization of pranic lines into the brain from the front and side angles.
Pranic ball visualization for brain energization
This practice involves the visualization an expanding and shrinking pranic ball in the middle region of the brain with inhalation and exhalation, respectively.
This practice involves the visualization of the raining down of prana over the entire body with relaxed and quiet sitting (QS). The PVPCE practices, including the number of rounds and durations, are detailed in [Table 2].
|Table 2: Prana Vidya Practices for Consciousness Enrichment techchnique's practices along with the number of rounds and duration|
Click here to view
The average value (arithmetic mean), standard deviation (SD), and standard error of the mean (SEm) were calculated. A paired t-test and Cohen's d-test were performed to compare the performances between the pre- and post-situations. Cohen's d is used as an effect size statistics for a paired t-test. Cohen's d is the appropriate effect size measure if two groups have similar SDs and are of the same size. The Cohen's d is termed small, medium, and large if its values are (0.2, 0.5), (0.5, 0.8), and >0.8, respectively, ignoring the negative sign. The repeated-measure analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA) was also performed to see the significant performance for the repeated measure cases. The analysis was done using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (IBM SPSS, Version 25) IBM Corp. (2017), NY, USA. The following schematic diagram illustrates the study design.
| Results|| |
[Table 3] shows the mean, SD, and SEm of each pair (pre and post) of the seven indices (parameters) undertaken in the study. In the experimental group, it is seen that for each pair of indices (except for SLCT-WA), the mean of the postgroup is higher than the pregroup, with uniformly lower values of SD and SEm (except for F-TS). In the control group, it is seen that there is no uniformity of performance between pre- and post-observations in all the pairs under the study.
The result of the paired t-test is given in [Table 4]. It is observed that the pre- and post-test in all the indices (except SLCT-WA and B-Bl Sp) significantly differ from each other at the 5% level of significance. This shows the significant role of the experiment conducted on the candidates in increasing their performance levels. In the control group, the result of the paired t-test indicates that there is no effect on the performance of each indices over time (since all P > 0.05).
The performance of Cohen's d-test is presented in [Table 5]. Based on Cohen's d values, it can be seen that the majority of pair combinations of parameters in the experimental group belong to the medium and large categories, indicating better performance in the experimental group. However, the Cohen's d values in the control group are relatively small in most of the parameters.
The RM-ANOVA results are presented in [Table 6]. In the experimental group, all three parameters showed a significant difference. The same result is also shown in [Table 4]. This shows that the proposed technique is most effective for SLCT-TA, SLCT-NA, and F-TS. However, the values of ɳg2 (except SLCT-WA) are comparatively higher than the control group. In the control group, no parameter has significant performance.
|Table 6: Repeated measure analysis of variance for experimental and control groups|
Click here to view
| Discussion|| |
The present study was carried out to investigate the effect of PVPs on the cognitive abilities of adolescents. The technique PVPCE was given as the intervention for 5 weeks, and the experimental group showed significantly improved results (P < 0.05) for the cognitive abilities associated with the cancelation task (SLCT) and CBTT. There was no significant change in the error scores (WA) of SLCT. The PVPCE practices are most effective for SLCT-TA, SLCT-NA, and F-TS.
Both the tasks performed in the present study have been used to assess the various cognitive abilities: (i) SLCT for attention and concentration (Talwadkar et al., 2014; Chattha et al., 2008), sustained attention (Rangan et al., 2009; Khemka et al., 2009), psychomotor function (Jaykaran et al., 2009), focused attention, psychomotor speed, and fine motor coordination (Uttl and Pilkenton-Taylor, 2001) and (ii) CBTT for visuospatial short-term memory (VSSTM) (Kessels et al., 2000; Tempesta et al., 2013), VSSTM, working memory, and spatial attention (Gupta et al., 2019; Swathi et al., 2021).
PVPCE practices are mainly concerned with the transmission of prana into the brain, primarily to stimulate the pineal gland (place of the Agya chakra (Kumar et al., 2018), one of the seven main chakras according to yogic texts), as well as to energize the entire brain to enhance its functioning. Chakras are the centers for regulating the flow of prana in all of human existence's physical, astral, and causal dimensions. In addition, chakras also serve as an interchange or intermediary for energy exchange and conversion between two adjacent dimensions of a being (Motoyama, 2016). The Agya chakra is known as the “eye of knowledge,” and its activation results in an increase in intelligence, concentration, and memory (Redmond, 2012). This could be regarded as the primary reason for the significantly improved results for the selected cognitive ability variables. Brain-centric pranayama such as Bhramari pranayama (BhPr) has a similar mechanism to PVPs from the pranic perspective; it stimulates the Agya chakra and energizes the entire brain through a vibrating humming sound. In BhPr, while obstructing the ears with the middle or index finger, a continuous humming sound is produced while exhaling, bringing awareness to the Agya chakra in the head's center (Saraswati and Hiti, 1996).
BhPr showed an increase in the power of high frequencies (>15 Hz) in the brain. This increase was due to the appearance of a pattern of EEG (electroencephalography) activity called a “paroxysmal gamma wave” (PGW), which peaked in the left middle temporal lobe during the practice, with the EEG waveform remaining stable (Vialatte et al., 2009). Another EEG signal analysis of the effect of various pranayamas shows that the frequency of oscillation shifts from lower to higher frequency ranges with a significant increase in gamma power (>40 Hz) in the frontal, central, and temporal regions of the brain. These frequency shifts contribute to the human brain achieving higher cognitive states (Gandhi et al., 2011). Nineteen participants aged 15.89 ± 1.59 years showed an improvement in the SLCT task in a study that examined the immediate effects of BhPr and breath awareness (BA), suggesting that both yoga breathing techniques significantly improved attentional processes (Pradhan et al., 2018). Similarly, practicing alternate nostril yoga breathing (nadisuddhi pranayama) and right nostril yoga breathing (suryanuloma viloma pranayama) improved letter-cancelation task scores in a study involving 20 male volunteers aged 20 to 45 years, suggesting that these pranayamas enhance performance on an attentional task (Telles et al., 2007). Sixty-one preteen children showed improved SLCT scores in a study examining the immediate effects of 18 min of (high-frequency yoga breathing [HFYB]; kapalbhati in Sanskrit) on attention and anxiety, indicating that practicing HFYB is effective in improving attention and reducing anxiety (Telles et al., 2019). Another study comparing HFYB and BAW on 11 young adults (20.9 ± 2.3 years), 48 middle-aged adults (30–59 years), and 16 older adults (60+ years) found that practicing HFYB improved SLCT scores (Telles et al., 2008). A study on 15 participants aged 18–24 years examining the performance in the Corsi task of 18 min of (i) HFYB, (ii) BAW, and (iii) QS over three sessions found that BAW improved B-TS and backward Corsi span (one-tailed) of CBTT, suggesting that BAW improved primary working memory, spatial memory, and spatial attention (Gupta et al., 2019). Similarly, 20 subjects aged 18–20 years showed an increased Corsi total score and Corsi span of CBTT after practicing exclusive unilateral left nostril breathing (27 rounds each day) for 10 days. The study suggested improvement in visuospatial short-term working memory (Jyothsna and Rao, 2014). The studies cited above used prana practices such as pranayamas and HFYB as interventions, whereas the current study used a prana visualisation technique, PVPCE. Our findings are consistent with previous studies, indicating that prana-based practices are effective at enhancing cognitive abilities.
Although fewer studies have been conducted on prana visualization techniques in comparison to pranayama, they have shown beneficial effects on both the physical and mental aspects of human health. Yoga Prana Vidya was found to be beneficial in maintaining cognitive abilities, relapse and new disease susceptibility, body flexibility, and mobility in older adults, as well as enabling the balance of the left and right brains, thereby achieving cognition-emotion balance (Nanduri, 2020). YVP healing protocols and techniques were found effective in enabling the participants to improve physical and mental health (Neravetla and Nanduri, 2020). Pranic meditation showed significant benefits for the mental health and quality of life scores of breast cancer survivors when applied with simple and easy-to-learn exercises (Castellar et al., 2014). PH can aid as adjuvant therapy for depressed people (Rajagopal et al., 2018); it is found beneficial in some major domains of functional health and wellbeing such as physical fitness, feelings, pain, sleep, and changes in health (Jois et al., 2018).
To the authors' knowledge, (i) this study is the primary effort to scientifically evaluate the effect of PVPs (PVPCE technique) on cognitive abilities associated with letter cancelation and block tapping tasks and (ii) the PVPCE technique incorporates visual representations of all major practices to increase the effectiveness of the visualization process, which distinguishes it from existing visualization techniques that rely on verbal instructions.
There were the following limitations to the study: (i) the intervention was conducted online due to pandemic situations, which may lead to a lack of complete control over the study participants and may impact the results. (ii) Moreover, the study was limited by a small sample size and a specific age group; it needs to be evaluated with a larger sample size and other age groups.
The following are the practical and theoretical contributions of the study: As is evident from the vast Vedic and Yogic literature, Prana vidya is extensively described, and its various applications are also given. However, there is a need to evaluate its applications through case studies, and this study is a primary effort toward evaluating the effects of Prana vidya on cognitive abilities associated with letter cancelation and block tapping tasks. In addition, the Agya chakra has been widely associated with various mental abilities, including cognition. This study indicates a positive correlation between the Agya chakra and cognitive abilities. These are the theoretical contributions of the study. As the results of the study indicate that PVPs, when applied to the Agya chakra, are effective at enhancing cognitive abilities, the PVPCE technique can be useful and recommended for the enhancement of cognitive abilities in adolescents, although other aspects of consciousness may also be enhanced. This is the practical contribution of the study.
| Conclusion|| |
The findings of this study indicate that PVPs (PVPCE technique) improve cognitive abilities associated with letter cancelation and block tapping tasks. These practices could be recommended for enhancing cognition in adolescents. However, these practices may benefit individuals of other ages as well.
The study was carried out by the researcher at his own expense; no external financial support was received for this study. The participants volunteered to participate in the study and were not compensated for their time and participation.
We would like to thank the study participants as well as all the dear ones who inspired, contributed, and volunteered for the research; it would not have been possible without them.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2]
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]