Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine

: 2015  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 37--40

Surya namaskara training for enhancing selective attention in orphan boys: A randomized control study

Thounaojam Memtonbi Devi, Tikhe Sham Ganpat, Sanjay Kumar, Nagendra Hongasandra Ramarao 
 Department of Yoga and Management, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Tikhe Sham Ganpat
Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, (Prashanti Kutiram), 19, Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram Circle, Kempegowda Nagar, Bengaluru - 560 019, Karnataka


Background: Surya namaskara (SN) training is a part of yoga; it consists of a sequence of postures done with breath regulation, relaxation and awareness of energy centers. The selective attention (SA) is a vital function mediated by the right frontal-parietal cortex. The cancellation tests require visual selectivity and a repetitive motor response. The six letter cancellation task (SLCT) is useful to assess functions such as SA, focused attention, visual scanning, and the activation and inhibition of rapid responses. Assessing SA in orphan boys (OB) is a part of the neuropsychological evaluation to know their academic performance (AP). Objective: To assess the effect of SN training on SA in OB using SLCT. Subjects and Methods: Sixty OB with 11.3 ΁ 2 years of mean age were divided randomly, using computerized random number table into two groups (n = 30 in SN training group and n = 30 in control group). The SLCT data were collected before (pre) and after (post) the SN training and control of 1 month duration. Results: The Shapiro-Wilk Test and Paired Samples Test using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences 16 (IBM Corporation, USA) showed that there was 50.75% increase (P < 0.001) in total attempted (TA) and 52.99% increase (P < 0.001) in net score (NS) after SN training, whereas there was decrease in TA and NS in control group. Furthermore, there was no significant change observed in the wrong cancellation scores in both SN training and control group. Thus, it was revealed that SN training can increase TA and NS, and decrease wrongly attempted scores that is associated with an increase in SA. Conclusion: The present study suggests that SN training may enhance SA among OB, thus, may prove useful for their AP. Additional well-designed studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made on the efficacy of SN training for enhancing SA, and thereby improving AP.

How to cite this article:
Devi TM, Ganpat TS, Kumar S, Ramarao NH. Surya namaskara training for enhancing selective attention in orphan boys: A randomized control study.Saudi J Sports Med 2015;15:37-40

How to cite this URL:
Devi TM, Ganpat TS, Kumar S, Ramarao NH. Surya namaskara training for enhancing selective attention in orphan boys: A randomized control study. Saudi J Sports Med [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jun 6 ];15:37-40
Available from:

Full Text


Attention is an essential element of cognition and has been characterized in two ways, that is, either as a resource or capacity or as a skill of resource deployment. The selective attention (SA) is the capacity to attend to a task in hand for the required period. It is almost related with sustained attention, and associated with task difficulty or complexity. [1] The SA is easier for simple tasks than that of complex tasks. It is almost associated with the mental effort required by the task in hand. [2] The capacities to study and listen to a lecture for an extended length of time are examples of SA. Various brain areas mediate attention, different ones being responsible for different types of attention. The right front parietal area mediates sustained attention. Damage to the right prefrontal cortex is associated with poor SA. [3] Imaging studies have shown that vigilance tasks requiring SA to activate a network of neurons in the right frontal and parietal cortices. [4] Previous studies on SA suggests that reduced anxiety can improve the performance on tasks requiring SA [5] and yoga's anxiety reducing effects [6] could also have facilitated this. Similarly, modern education system and Gurukula education system improve SA in school boys, but Gurukula education system is more effective. [1] Several studies have been published to analyze the effect of different aspects of yoga including physical postures, and meditation on SA. Special physical postures (Asana), voluntary regulation of breathing (Pranayama), maintaining silence, and visual focusing exercises (Trataka) improve attention span in school children. [7],[8],[9] However, the changes in SA that characterize the efficacy of Surya namaskara (SN) training in orphan boys (OB) have not been reported earlier adequately.


The present study was designed to assess the effect of SN training on SA in OB using six letter cancellation task (SLCT).

 Subjects and Methods


Sixty OB with 11.3 ΁ 2 years of mean age were divided randomly into two groups using computerized random number table (n = 30 in SN training and n = 30 in the control group).

Inclusion criteria

Orphan boys with age ranging from 8 to 14 years.

Exclusion criteria

(i) Physically handicapped, (ii) taking medication (iii) using any other wellness strategy.


Randomized control study.


The OB home, Manipur.

Informed consent

An informed consent form was obtained from all the participants.

The institutional review board approval

The study was approved by the institutional review board of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bangalore and authorities of OB home, Manipur.


All the subjects participated in the SN training [10],[11] of 1 month duration, which was conducted in OB home, Manipur.


The SLCT [8],[10] data was collected before (pre) and after (post) the 1 month SN training. The SLCT consisted of a test worksheet that specified the six target letters to be cancelled and had a "working section" that consisted of letters of the alphabet arranged randomly in 14 rows and 22 columns. The participants were asked to cancel as many six target letters as possible, which were printed at the top of working section of the test sheets, in the specified time, that is, 90 s. They were told that there were two possible strategies, that is, (i) doing all six letters at a time, or (ii) selecting any one target letter out of the six. They were asked to choose whichever strategy suited them. They were also told that they could follow a horizontal, vertical or a random path according to their choice.

Data collection

The total number of cancellations and wrong cancellations (WCs) were scored, and the net scores (NSs) were calculated by deducting the WCs from the total cancellations attempted. As this test was administered before and after the 1 month intervention of SN training, parallel work sheets were prepared by changing the sequence of the letters randomly in the working section. Both the groups, that is, SN training and control received one set of worksheets before a session and paralleled worksheets after the session. The SLCT was used in a similar design in an Indian population, indicating the validity of the task. [8],[10]

Data scoring

The scoring was done by a person, who was unaware, when the assessment was made whether the participant was engaging in SN training or control, and whether the assessment was of "before (pre)" or "after (post)" session. [12]

Statistical analysis

The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences-16 (IBM Corporation, USA) was used for the statistical analysis of the SLCT data. The Shapiro-Wilk test showed that the data were normally distributed. Further, the Paired Samples test was used to test the level of significance.


Cancellation tasks require visual selectivity and a repetitive motor responses. [13] They are not only require SA, but also visual scanning and activation and inhibition of rapid responses. The present study found a significant increase in SA scores after the SN training. The data analysis of SLCT scores showed 50.75% increase (P < 0.001) in total attempted (TA) scores of SN training group, whereas in control it was decreased by 0.83% (P < 0.05). The NS analysis showed 52.99% increase (P < 0.001) in SN training group whereas it was 1.94% decrease (P < 0.05) in control group. The wrongly attempted (WA) score analysis showed no significant change in either of the groups [Table 1].{Table 1}


The mechanism of how yoga may reduce total time taken and errors made in SLCT, and how it may increase SA may be understood by three cardinal principles of yoga: Relax the body, slow down the breath and calm down the mind. [14] Recent research has shown a positive relationship between the personality trait and academic performance (AP). Previous study on yoga reported enhanced SA as a result of the practice of yoga way of life. The result indicates the paramount importance of yoga to improve AP. [8],[9] A study on performance in an SLCT in 35 male experienced meditators with experience ranging from 6 to 12 months reported enhanced SA with Dharana or focusing on the symbol "OM". [15] Similarly, a recent study on SN training reported that the practice of 108 SN increases TA and NS and decreases WA scores in SLCT that is associated with an increase in sustained attention. [10] Thus, the SN training holds a great promise in enhancing SA in healthy individuals. The sharp memory and SA are important skills for academic and professional performance. The techniques to improve these skills are not taught either in education or company training courses. Any system that can systematically, improve these skills will be of value in schools, universities, and workplaces. [16] The present study is consistent with these research findings, indicating that the practice of SN training can result in better AP through improving SA as assessed through SLCT in OB.


The present study suggests that SN training can result in improvement of SA among OB, thus paving the way for their AP. Although this preliminary research is promising, well designed studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.


Authors acknowledge Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bangalore for granting permission to carry out this work.


1Rangan R, Nagendra HR, Bhatt R. Effect of yogic education system and modern education system on sustained attention. Int J Yoga 2009;2:35-8.
2Posner MI. Chronometric Explorations of Mind. In: Hillsdale NJ, editor.Erlbaum: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 1978. p. 269.
3Rueckert L, Grafman J. Sustained attention deficits in patients with right frontal lesions. Neuropsychologia 1996;34:953-63.
4Pardo JV, Fox PT, Raichle ME. Localization of a human system for sustained attention by positron emission tomography. Nature 1991;349:61-4.
5Saltz E. Manifest anxiety: Have we missed the data? Psychol Rev 1970;77:568-73.
6Wallace RK, Benson H, Wilson AF. A wakeful hypometabolic physiologic state. Am J Physiol 1971;221:795-9.
7Telles S, Hanumanthaiah B, Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR. Improvement in static motor performance following yogic training of school children. Percept Mot Skills 1993;76:1264-6.
8Sarang SP, Telles S. Immediate effect of two yoga-based relaxation techniques on performance in a letter-cancellation task. Percept Mot Skills 2007;105:379-85.
9Telles S, Raghuraj P, Maharana S, Nagendra HR. Immediate effect of three yoga breathing techniques on performance on a letter-cancellation task. Percept Mot Skills 2007;104:1289-96.
10Arun K, Prithvi A, Ganpat TS, Deshpande S, Pailoor S, Ramarao NH. Suryanamaskara exercise enhances sustained attention. Saudi J Sports Med 2014;14:31-4.
11Nagarathana R, Nagendra HR. Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy for Positive Health. Bangalore, India: Swami Vivekananda Yoga Prakashan; 2011. p. 65.
12Kelland DZ, Lewis RF. The digit vigilance test: Reliability, validity, and sensitivity to diazepam. Arch Clin Neuropsychol 1996;11:339-44.
13Lezak MD. Neuropsychological Assessment. 3 rd ed. New York, USA: Oxford University Press; 1995.
14Murthy RS. From local to global-Contributions of Indian psychiatry to international psychiatry. Indian J Psychiatry 2010;52:S30-7.
15Kumar S, Telles S. Meditative states based on yoga texts and their effects on performance of a letter-cancellation task. Percept Mot Skills 2009;109:679-89.
16Pradhan B, Nagendra HR. Effect of yoga relaxation techniques on performance of digit-letter substitution task by teenagers. Int J Yoga 2009;2:30-4.