A study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, has revealed that practising Yoga can reduce felt stigma among adults suffering from epilepsy. AIIMS enrolled people with epilepsy (PWE) with an average age of 30 and measured stigma based on participants’ answers to some specific questions.
“We enrolled with consent PWE with an average age of 30 in India. We measured stigma based on participants’ answers to questions such as: ‘Do you feel other people discriminate against you?’ ‘Do you feel you cannot contribute anything in society?,’ and ‘Do you feel different from other people?”, said the hospital. Total 160 people experiencing stigma were enrolled with an average of one seizure per week and on average took at least two anti-seizure medications (ASMs).
AIIMS randomly assigned participants to receive yoga therapy and sham yoga therapy. Yoga therapy included Loosening practices (Sukshma Vyayama), breathing exercises (Pranayama), meditation and positive affirmations. Sham yoga consisted of exercises that mimic the same yoga exercises, but participants were not given instructions on two key components of yoga believed to induce a relaxation response: slow and synchronized breathing, and attention to the body movements and sensations during practice.
The psychoeducation module consisting of information about epilepsy, symptoms, treatment and known causes, guidelines for medication compliance and self-care strategies, strategies to maintain a positive attitude were also provided to both the groups. Each group received seven supervised group sessions of 45 to 60 minutes for three months. Participants were also asked to practice sessions at home at least five times a week for 30 minutes. After the three months of therapy, participants were followed for another three months.
The study found that when compared to people who did sham yoga, people who did yoga were more likely to reduce their perceived stigma of the disease. People who did yoga had an average score of seven at the start of the study and an average score of four at the end of the study, while people who did sham yoga had an increase from an average score of six at the start of the study to an average score of seven at the end.