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Yoga for persons with severe visual impairment: a feasibility study

Pamela E. Jeter, Gislin Dagnelie, Sat Bir S. Khalsa, Steffany Haaz, Ava K. Bittner
  • Gislin Dagnelie
    Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, United States
  • Sat Bir S. Khalsa
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, United States
  • Steffany Haaz
    Corporate Health Solutions, Baltimore, United States
  • Ava K. Bittner
    Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, United States


This exploratory study aims to establish the feasibility of an Ashtanga-based Yoga Therapy (AYT) program for improving sleep disturbances, balance, and negative psychosocial states, which are prevalent issues for visually impaired (VI) individuals. Ten legally blind adult participants were randomized to an 8-week AYT program. Four subjects in the 1st cohort and three in the 2nd cohort successfully completed the AYT program. They convened for one session per week with an instructor and performed two home-based sessions per week using an audio CD. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were administered at baseline and post-intervention. A Timed One-Leg balance measure, respiratory rate (RR), and the Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale (PHLMS) were assessed in the 2nd cohort. Both groups completed a qualitative exit survey. Positive exit survey responses (all subjects were extremely or mostly satisfied, and wanted to continue AYT) and good participation rates (7 subjects attended at least 7 of the 8 weekly sessions) support the feasibility of the AYT. PSQI, PSS, BAI and BDI scores changed in the direction of reduced negative symptoms after AYT for the 1st cohort. Changes in PSQI and PSS for the 2nd cohort were varied. Balance, RR and PHLMS awareness trended toward improvement for each individual. This preliminary study provides proof of concept for potential benefits of AYT that may be observed in VI subjects. Larger studies and an active control group are needed to determine efficacy.


Yoga; Sleep; Stress; Low Vision; Balance;

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Submitted: 2011-09-30 16:00:40
Published: 2012-04-19 16:18:37
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Copyright (c) 2012 Pamela E. Jeter, Gislin Dagnelie, Sat Bir S. Khalsa, Steffany Haaz, Ava K. Bittner

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