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BACKGROUND: An earlier study showed that a week of yoga practice was useful in stress management after a natural calamity. Due to heavy rain and a rift on the banks of the Kosi river, in the state of Bihar in north India, there were floods with loss of life and property. A week of yoga practice was given to the survivors a month after the event and the effect was assessed.METHODS: Twenty-two volunteers (group average age +/- S.D, 31.5 +/- 7.5 years; all of them were males) were randomly assigned to two groups, yoga and a non-yoga wait-list control group. The yoga group practiced yoga for an hour daily while the control group continued with their routine activities. Both groups' heart rate variability, breath rate, and four symptoms of emotional distress using visual analog scales, were assessed on the first and eighth day of the program. RESULTS: There was a significant decrease in sadness in the yoga group (p < 0.05, paired t-test, post data compared to pre) and an increase in anxiety in the control group (p < 0.05, paired t-test, post data compared to pre). CONCLUSIONS: A week of yoga can reduce feelings of sadness and possibly prevent an increase in anxiety in flood survivors a month after the calamity. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinical Trials Registry of India: CTRI/2009/091/000285.

BACKGROUND: Following a natural disaster, survivors are vulnerable to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/ or depression.OBJECTIVES: (i) To screen survivors of the Bihar floods a month after the event to determine their scores in a screening questionnaire for PTSD and/ or depression and (ii) to correlate these scores with age and gender. MATERIALS AND METHODS: One thousand two hundred eighty-nine persons (645 females) who had been directly exposed to the floods in Bihar, India, in August 2008 were assessed. The Screening Questionnaire for Disaster Mental Health (SQD) was used to screen for PTSD and depression. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Separate two-factor ANOVAs were used to compare persons of both sexes and 5 different age groups for PTSD and depression scores. This was followed by post-hoc analysis for multiple comparisons. RESULTS: People over the age of 60 years had significantly higher scores for PTSD and depression compared to all groups (P< 0.05 for all comparisons). CONCLUSION: Following a natural disaster, older people appear more vulnerable to develop PTSD and depression. This should be taken into account in devising strategies for disaster relief.

The practice of yoga is gaining in popularity with a wide range of practices. Recent research and descriptions from the ancient texts are often concurrent with regard to the effects of the practice, taking into account expected differences between modern scientific terms and those used in the original texts. Voluntarily regulated yoga breathing practices form a bridge between physical and mental changes. The voluntarily regulated yoga breathing has distinct effects on metabolism, the autonomic nervous system, higher brain functions, and mental state. The effects of meditation on the nervous system and mental state are even clearer.