Asian J. Med. Biol. Res. 2017, 3 (2), 276-281; doi: 10.3329/ajmbr.v3i2.33580
Asian Journal of
Medical and Biological Research
ISSN 2411-4472 (Print) 2412-5571 (Online)
Effects of yoga on flexibility and balance: a quasi-experimental study
Shah Noman Md. Iftekher1, Md. Bakhtiar2 and Kh. Shafiur Rahaman3*
1Post Graduate Diploma in Exercise Physiology student, Department of Exercise Physiology, Institute of Sports
Science, Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Prathisthan (BKSP), Dhaka, Bangladesh
2Senior Research Officer, Department of Exercise Physiology, Institute of Sports Science, Bangladesh Krira
Shikkha Prathisthan (BKSP), Dhaka, Bangladesh
3GIBACHT fellow, German Partnership Program for Excellence in Biological and Health Security, Germany
*Corresponding author: Kh. Shafiur Rahaman, BSL Residential Complex, Flat # Bakul 804, Mirpur-13, Dhaka-
1216, Bangladesh. Phone: +880 1670 215 932; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: 07 June 2017/Accepted: 25 June 2017/ Published: 29 June 2017
Abstract: Despite having number of health benefits, yoga also has a proven role in enhancing performance of
athletes boosting specific components of fitness. Our aim was to study the effect of yoga on flexibility and
balance among shooting trainee athletes at BKSP, Bangladesh. A quasi-experimental study was conducted
among shooting trainee athletes. In total 20 athletes took part in this study. In each group we had 10 participants
(10 in yoga group and other 10 in non-yoga group). Regular yoga session have been conducted early morning
biweekly over a period of six weeks. All the participants were allowed to take part in regular training session,
while only yoga group took part in additional yoga session. Measurements of flexibility and balance including
Sit and Reach (SR) test and Stork Stand (SR) test were taken immediately before and after the yoga training
period. Independent t-test and paired t-test were used to determine the significant effect of yoga within and
between the groups before and after yoga training. Sixty percent of our participants were male. Participant’s age
were between 12-17 years. All of them had normal level of BMI. Significant improvement were observed in the
yoga group for flexibility (SR, P=0.017) and balance (SS, P=0.004) during within group comparison. No
significant improvement were seen for flexibility and balance in the non-yoga group. Between group
comparison (Yoga and Non-yoga) also shows significant enhancement in both flexibility (SR, P=0.018) and
balance (SS, P=0.021).Our findings helped us to conclude that regular yoga training may improve the balance
and flexibility of shooting athletes even within short period of time (6 weeks), can also improve the athletic
performances that demands high flexibility and balance.
Keywords: yoga; flexibility; balance; athletes; shooting game
Regular practice of yoga has numerous health benefits (Wolff et al., 2013; Pal et al., 2011; McDermott et al.,
2014; Parikh et al., 2014). Yoga also brings positive changes in physical performance and well-being if
practiced regularly (Akhtar et al., 2013; Ross and Thomas, 2010) by improving flexibility and balance (Boehde
et al., 2005) as well as cardiovascular functions (Bera and Rajapurkar, 1993). Moreover, yoga may have direct
link to improve the common elements of athletic performance (Harrelson and Swann, 2003). It is also evident
that yoga can be an important element of training program along with the other regular traditional exercise or
even may replace those (Broad, 2012). Regular yoga practice results in enhanced flexibility very rapidly as this
process involves gentle stretching of muscle, connective tissues around bones and joints (Woodyard, 2011).
Yoga also has profound effect on balance, muscular strength, endurance and coordination because of its highly
structural activity and involvement (Carrico, 1997).
Asian J. Med. Biol. Res. 2017, 3 (2)
Yoga differs from other typical forms of exercise training as it requires multi-structural involvement that gives a
difficult task to the body in various ways (Gulati and Sharma, 2011; Kaminoff and Matthews, 2007). Proper
positioning trough yoga enhances movement abilities and reduces movement limitation, thus improves body
functioning among athletes. It also helps to maintain continuous and stable breathing through a series of Asanas
(static posture) involving required muscle groups under tension. Interacting breathing mechanism to the tensed
musculoskeletal system brings comprehensive changes to the whole body while performing those Asanas
Traditional exercise emphasizes on improving specific fitness for a given sports achievement (Bryant and
Green, 2006). Though specific components of fitness increases, it is difficult to use these in attaining optimal
athletic performance (Aaberg, 2002). On the other hand, regular yoga practice improves many specific
components of fitness (e.g. increase alignment, increase range of motion, and enhance muscle fibers
recruitment) by increasing flexibility and reducing muscle tension thus allows new movements to take place and
help joints to move freely (Clark and Powers, 2012). Thus sport skill improves.
In shooting game, balance and flexibility is important for athletes to hold their gun for longer period and without
bouncing it. According to the evidence above, yoga helps to strengthen and refine connective muscle tissue and
some of those really small muscle that are responsible for balance and stillness. A good practice of yoga could
be of great help for shooting athletes in this regard.
Therefore, the main intention of this paper was to investigate the effect of yoga on specific components of
fitness particularly flexibility and balance related to athletic performance. Thus, through an improvement of
specific fitness elements, the core ability for athletic performance should increase. To apply our results to
competitive situations, we performed our experiment on trainee athletes who were participating in regular
training at shooting department of Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Prathisthan (BKSP), Bangladesh for their athletic
2. Materials and Methods
A quasi-experimental study was carried out for a period of 7 weeks (Measurement days and yoga training
session) to assess the impact of yoga on specific aspects of athletic fitness among the suitable sportsperson
participating in regular shooting training at BKSP. The study measurements were taken in the Department of
Exercise Physiology at Institute of Sports Science, BKSP and the yoga training session was conducted in the
shooting complex of BKSP. The study duration was from April, 2017 to May, 2017. Yoga training were given
over a period of 6 weeks at a frequency of twice per week. We have selected 20 participants according to their
availability and suitability guided by the coaches allowing the researchers to collect the data on their athletes.
Participants (n = 20) were trainee athletes in shooting department both male and female. The subjects were
divided among yoga group (n=10) and non-yoga group (n=10).The participants had no previous experience with
yoga and were free from injury. History of any existing medical condition were also asked before including
them in this study. Students who passed at least one year training at BKSP were included. New students were
excluded from the study as without particular sports training it can bias our study hypothesis.
The yoga group and the non-yoga group was comprised of shooting trainee players. During the period of yoga
sessions for 6 weeks, members of both group have also participated the regularly pre-scheduled sport specific
training. Common training included static stretching exercises, weight and endurance training, and running for
both groups. In addition to their regular training, the yoga subjects took part in yoga sessions in early morning
(Monday and Thursday) each week before any other physical activity. Sessions were conducted by professional
yoga expert. The yoga expert demonstrated variety of yoga poses (Asanas) and the participants then followed
and imitated those poses. Each session took place for an hour. Measures of flexibility and balance were taken
immediately before and shortly after the 6-week yoga sessions.
Assessments for each group were completed separately. One day before the initiation of first yoga session, the
measurements were taken with the same testing protocol from both yoga and non-yoga group members.
Similarly, at the end of 6 weeks yoga training session, one day after, the testing protocol was repeated with the
yoga group and non-yoga group athletes respectively. Without any warm up session, the following assessment
protocol was completed: (1) Sit-reach (SR) test and (2) Stork stand (SS) test. The measures of flexibility were
determined by an SR test (Baechle, 2008), while a test of balance was conducted with a stork stand (SS) test
(Coulson and Archer, 2011). We have reported the best attempts out of three.
Asian J. Med. Biol. Res. 2017, 3 (2)
2.2. Statistical analysis
Standard descriptive statistics (mean ± standard deviation) were determined for directly measured and derived
variables. Before-after comparison of means were calculated for all measured values. Paired t-test were used for
the comparison of various characteristic variables between two groups. Data were analyzed using SPSS
(Statistical Package for Social Science) version 22.0. A 5% level of probability was used to indicate statistical
A total number of 20 participants (10 from each group, i.e. yoga and non-yoga group) were included in this
study. Participants were both male and female trainee athletes of shooting game at BKSP. The Mean age of the
participants were 13.70 ± 1.33 (SD) for yoga group ranging from 14-17 years of age. Mean age for non-yoga
group members were 13.60 ± 0.97 (SD) ranging from 12-17 years. Sixty percent were male and forty percent
were female in both groups.
The mean (±SD) height was slightly higher among the non-yoga group. There was no remarkable difference in
mean weight of our participants among the two groups. BMI (Body Mass Index) of all participants were within
the normal range. The BMI level was slightly higher among yoga group participants. From the table below it is
clearly visible that in all aspects of selected anthropometric variables, there was no big gap among yoga and
non-yoga group. The means and standard deviation of the anthropometric variables of the two group of are
given below (Table 1).
Flexibility test score difference were observed among yoga group compared to non-yoga group. In yoga group,
according to the test performed before and after yoga training, significant difference (P=0.017) were found in
the score and the mean difference was -2.00. This implies that an average of 2 inches of flexibility has increased
among yoga group participants after the training. On the other hand, no significant difference in the mean score
of flexibility test were observed among the non-yoga group participants (Table 2).
Improvement in balance were observed in the yoga group over 6 weeks period of yoga training session.
Performance in the ST test had a mean increase from 24.10 seconds (Standard deviation [SD] = 16.33) to 26.30
seconds (Standard deviation [SD] =17.33) which was statistically significant (P=0.004). But no significant
difference were found among the non-yoga group who performed the same test having regular forms of training
In addition to this, between group (yoga and no-yoga) comparison revealed that there was also significant
difference in the SR test for flexibility (P=0.018) and ST test for balance (P=0.021) at the finishing of 6 weeks
of yoga training period (Tables 2 and 3).
Table 1. Descriptive statistics of selected anthropometric variables.
BMI (Body Mass Index)
SD = Standard deviation, n = number of participants
Table 2. Analytical statistics for yoga and non-yoga traditional measures for flexibility.
Sit reach (SR) test (Inches)
Yoga – non-yoga Group
Mean ± SD (before)
35.50 ± 5.33
37.20 ± 5.03
36.85 ± 5.05
Mean ± SD (after)
38.50 ± 6.62
37.30 ± 4.95
37.90 ± 5.72
Standard error of mean
* Significant level p< 0.05
Asian J. Med. Biol. Res. 2017, 3 (2)
Table 3. Analytical statistics for yoga and non-yoga traditional measures for balance.
Stork stand (ST) test (Seconds)
Yoga – non-yoga Group
Mean ± SD (before)
24.10 ± 16.33
16.50 ± 4.71
20.30 ± 12.33
Mean ± SD (after)
26.30 ± 17.73
16.30 ± 4.52
21.30 ± 13.60
Standard error of mean
* Significant level p< 0.05, SD= Standard Deviation
Flexibility and balance are important components of fitness of any sportsperson which plays an important role
on their performance. In this particular study, our main focus was to determine if yoga has any additional effect
on the flexibility and balance of shooting game athletes despite of their regular forms of training. Athletes from
both groups took part in their regular training programs. Regular training session included warm up exercise,
strength and endurance training, sport specific skill training and participating in their sport regularly. Only yoga
group was given additional yoga training. Evidence have shown that flexibility training and yoga increases the
range of motion of joints (McHugh and Cosgrave, 2010; Amin and Goodman, 2014) compared to those who are
untrained. Therefore, we hypothesized that both group will show improvement in the flexibility test because all
of them took part in regular warm-up sessions.
In our findings, it shows that in addition to the regular training session, yoga training significantly increases the
measures of flexibility. On the contrary, the non-yoga group did not show any improvement in flexibility
measures. Moreover, participants of yoga group also had higher flexibility than the participants of non-yoga
group. Thus, 6 weeks of practicing yoga did help to improve flexibility measures in the actively training athletes
while warm up stretching did not.
We have also hypothesized that both groups (yoga and non-yoga) will improve in balance test because
participating regularly in strength and endurance training, sport specific skills particularly for shooting game
provokes stability and balance (Zech et al., 2010). Furthermore, regularyoga practice supposed to increase the
balance (Zech et al., 2010; Boehde et al., 2005), we expected that the additional yoga training will also improve
the balance. Improvement in balance measures were observed significantly among yoga group according to our
expectation. However, the non-yoga group failed to show any improvement. The effects of yoga was again
revealed with significantly higher balance for yoga group versus non-yoga group. According to the findings
above, we can again establish the fact that additional yoga training has positive effect on balance with traditional
training even within shorter period of time (6 weeks).
Our study finds similarity with other studies too. In a study conducted among college athletes for about 10
weeks of yoga session in similar setting. Significant improvement were seen in both flexibility and balance
among those participant who were belong to yoga group, in contrast, non-yoga group did not show any changes
in their performance after the tests performed for measurement (Polsgrove et al., 2015). This evidence also
supports our finding. Yoga can indeed enhance the flexibility and balance of athletes alongside with their
Another study conducted among Olympic weightlifters revealed that 7-weeks of yoga training did not show any
significant differences between groups on flexibility measures (Ernst and Jensen, 2016). Though the result
contradicts the finding of our result, many other studies have shown the positive impact of yoga on flexibility.
Hence, excluding only one evidence, we can surely recommend to include yoga session along with their regular
training among athletes.
The athletes who practiced yoga for 6 weeks have shown the improvement in both flexibility and balance
measures. According to our findings, we could expect that yoga group athletes would frequently exceed the non-
yoga group athletes in flexibility and balance. Participating in additional training that focused on multiple
components of fitness, may explain the improved measures of flexibility and balance for the yoga group
Based on the above cited literatures and consultations with many others the investigator confidently arrived at
the conclusion that the trainee athletes who took part in the yoga session had enhanced flexibility and balance
than the other group who took part only in the regular training, therefore, it would be beneficial if professional
yoga expert can be included with the coaching team to provide regular training to improve the overall
Asian J. Med. Biol. Res. 2017, 3 (2)
performance of shooting players. Furthermore, our study opened a room for further research in near future
overcoming the limitation (time and samples size) revealed in this project. Our study population were mostly
young adolescent. If we could include professional and adult sport persons, our result would have been
different. Further research can also be done in other departments of BKSP adding more weeks of yoga training
session with more outcome variables and measurement techniques to build the strong evidence. Yoga also has
pshychological benefits which has not been studied in our study but this is also an important apsects to be added
in future research.
Based on our findings, we can conclude that taking part in yoga session alongside with the traditional training
methods has helped to improve flexibility and balance among shooting trainee athletes. Thus, yoga may support
to enhance performance of those athletes by increasing specific components of fitness. Further studies to
evaluate the impact of yoga including large sample size with different age groups, others port departments, other
components of fitness and measurement tools, psychological aspects and more time may help to create more
strong evidence. Hence, at this moment we can recommend that yoga professional could be included with the
team to conduct yoga session on a regular basis to enhance performance of athletes. Coaches could also be
trained on yoga poses so that they can conduct yoga session with their trainee athletes along with the other
We are grateful to the coaches and authorities at the shooting department of BKSP for their cooperation
throughout the study period. We are also thankful to our participants for their active participation in this study
that helped us to successfully complete the project.
Conflict of interest
None to declare.
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