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J Edu Health Promot 2020,  9:30

Impact of residential yoga training on occupational stress and health promotion in principals

1 Department of Scientific Research, Kaivalyadham Yoga Institute, Lonavla, Pune, Maharashtra, India
2 Health Care Centre, Ayurveda Section, Kaivalyadham Yoga Institute, Lonavla, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission11-Jul-2019
Date of Acceptance24-Oct-2019
Date of Web Publication28-Feb-2020

Correspondence Address:
Mr. Sanjay Uddhav Shete
Department of Scientific Research, Kaivalyadhama, Swami Kuvalayananda Marg, Lonavla, Pune - 410 403, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_394_19

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BACKGROUND: Occupational stress is known as harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the resources, needs, or capabilities of an employee, leading to poor mental and physical health.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the present study was to assess the effect of 1-week residential yoga training program on occupational stress and its subscales among principals.
METHODS: Thirty-three principals with ages 40–59 years completed the assessment. They received yoga training at Kaivalyadham Yoga Institute. All the participants were recruited by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan as part of their on-duty yoga training. At the baseline and after 1 week of yoga training participants were assessed for occupational stress. The yoga intervention was given in the morning and evening for 105 min. Apart from yoga training, all the participants were engaged in lectures based on stress management, yoga for total health, meditation, yoga in school education, and scientific basis of yoga, daily for 3 h.
RESULTS: The principals showed a significant decrease in role overload (P < 0.001), role ambiguity (P < 0.01), role conflict (P < 0.05), under participation (P < 0.001), powerlessness (P < 0.001), intrinsic impoverishment (P < 0.01), law status (P < 0.001), and overall occupational stress (P < 0.001) after 7 days of yoga training intervention. However, there was no significant change in unreasonable group and political pressure (P > 0.05), responsibility for persons (P > 0.05), poor peer relations (P > 0.05), strenuous working conditions (P > 0.05), and unprofitability (P > 0.05) after yoga training intervention.
CONCLUSION: The present study suggests that 1 week of residential yoga training program can improve occupational stress in principals.

Keywords: Health, occupational stress, principals, yoga

How to cite this article:
Verma A, Shete SU, Doddoli G. Impact of residential yoga training on occupational stress and health promotion in principals. J Edu Health Promot 2020;9:30

How to cite this URL:
Verma A, Shete SU, Doddoli G. Impact of residential yoga training on occupational stress and health promotion in principals. J Edu Health Promot [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 11];9:30. Available from: http://www.jehp.net/text.asp?2020/9/1/30/279792

  Introduction Top

Occupational stress can be defined as harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the resources, needs, or capabilities of an employee, leading to poor mental and physical health.[1] Occupational stress is caused by various occupational factors along with social and individual factors. Low back pain, musculoskeletal disorders, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disorders, psychosomatic and mental disorders, and digestive problems are some of the commonly reported occupational hazards among nurses, police personnel, school teachers, banking sector employees, and doctors.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] However, some degree of stress is common to every organization at different hierarchy levels.

A study conducted in Greece to find out the most common causes of stress among school teachers revealed a lack of interest, low attainment, problems in interaction with students, and handling students with difficult behavior were the most common causes of stress.[9] Female teachers experienced stress while interacting with colleagues and students, emotional exhaustion, students' progress, and workload. Furthermore, disengagement from profession, government support, and mental exhaustion were main causes of occupational stress. Further, a recent study concluded that voice disorder among teachers was associated with increased absenteeism in schools.[10] Health-related quality of life and high anxiety were found to be marginally associated with voice disorders in teachers.

Principals are mainly responsible for administrative work worldwide leading to tremendous stress. They have to deal with admissions, parents, students, staff, etc., which lays excessive burden on them mentally and physically.[11] They have to take right and quick decisions in order to deal with everyday problems. According to a research study, teachers with role overload experience negative health outcomes as compared to role underload.[12] Further, high level of emotional exhaustion is associated with high job demand, high overcommitment, and low skill discretion. In addition, occupational stress was found to be significantly associated with dimensions of burnout among teachers,[13],[14],[15] doctors,[16] and bank employees.[17],[18] Therefore, it has been argued that school principals need to acquire counseling skills and also need supporting lifestyle intervention for reducing work-related stress and burnout.[19] Review of the past literature revealed that there is a dearth of studies related to occupational stress among principals. Thus, there is an urgent need to seek effective solutions for reducing occupational stress in principals and administrators of the school.

Nevertheless, various training strategies have been used to overcome the stress in employees such as counseling, communication training, and relaxation exercises.[20],[21] Similarly, Transcendental Meditation technique and health education demonstrated positive impact onhealth and reduction in stress.[22],[23],[24]

However, the strategies that are easy to implement, cost-effective, and have minimal side effects should be used to cope with occupational stress. Yoga practices have proved to be effective in stress reduction and related symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and psychosomatic disorders in varied population.[25],[26],[27],[28] Yoga is an ancient traditional Indian practice which promotes physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of an individual. Yoga primarily includes asanas (physical postures) and pranayama (controlled breathing) which leads to relaxation of mind and body.[29] Yoga practices were found to be effective in individuals working in highly stressful environment.[30] Therefore, integrating yoga practices into the workplace may prove to be convenient, practical, cost-effective, and highly beneficial solution for abating the damaging effects of occupational stress among principals. Past studies conducted in the field of yoga and its influence on work-related stress in educational field focus mainly on college students,[31],[32],[33],[34] healthy adults,[35],[36] and teachers.[37],[38],[39] However, there are no studies conducted so far among principals and administrators.

Considering that principals of Kendriya Vidyalaya are under constant stress, we hypothesized that 1 week rigorous residential yoga training program could reduce occupational stress of principals. This rigorous residential yoga training may lead to health promotion and reduction of stress amongst principals. To our knowledge, this is the first study which is focusing on the effect of yoga practices on occupational stress of school principals of India.

  Methods Top

Study design and recruitment of research participants

The present study adopted a single-group pre-post research design, wherein 33 Kendriya Vidyalaya principals with ages 40–59 years completed the assessments. Convenience sampling method was used in this study since the principals were willing to participate, easily accessible, and available at a given time. This study was conducted at Kaivalyadham Yoga Institute, Lonavla, India. All the participants were deputed by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan as part of their on-duty yoga training. To be included in the study, the participants had to (i) be principals, (ii) have at least 15 years of experience as a principal, (iii) complete the questionnaires correctly, and (iv) be fluent in English and Hindi. The study participants were explained about the research protocol in detail. The entire group agreed to participate in the study voluntarily. However, the participation was entirely voluntary and the participants were free to withdraw from the study at any point of time. Since all participants were deputed to learn yoga, it was not possible to have a comparison group with an alternate intervention. As this experiment includes human subjects, an undertaking (informed consent) from each participant about willingness for participation was obtained prior to conduct of this study. As Yoga exercises are harmless and noninvasive technique, no participant experienced any problem in the participation. Moreover, the consequences of the said training program for a period of 1 week was not expected to be detrimental in any way. The baseline characteristics of participants have been presented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Baseline characteristics of the study participants

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On the day prior to the 1st day of training and on the day after the 7th day of training, all the participants were assessed for occupational stress using Occupational Stress Index questionnaire. The scale purports to measure the extent of stress which is perceived by the employees due to various conditions of their job. This scale measures the stress arising exclusively due to job roles. The scale consists of 46 items, each to be rated on five-point scale.[40] Out of 46 items, 28 are true keyed and 18 are false keyed. The items relate to almost all relevant components of the work life which cause stress in some way or the other. Forty-six items of occupational stress are distributed in 12 subscales, namely, (1) Role overload, (2) Role ambiguity, (3) Role conflict, (4) Unreasonable group and political pressure, (5) Responsibility for persons, (6) Under participation, (7) Powerlessness, (8) Poor peer relations, (9) Intrinsic impoverishment, (10) Law status, (11) Strenuous working condition, and (12) Unprofitability. The participant had to choose one out of the five options provided for each item, i.e., Strongly disagree, disagree, undecided, agree, and strongly agree. The scores for overall occupational stress range from 46 to 230 and were recorded in points. The reliability index ascertained by split-half (odd-even) method and Cronbach's alpha coefficient for the scale as a whole were 0.935 and 0.90, respectively.


Based on the past research studies, the yoga program was implemented. Further, the training module was shown to various yoga teachers and experts.[41],[42] Asanas work with the deeper muscles of the body, and therefore, utmost care was taken while practicing it.

The yoga intervention was given in the morning and evening for 105 min each. The morning session consisting of yoga asanas was held from 6:30 to 7:45 am followed by Shuddhi Kriya between 7:45 and 8:15 am, whereas evening session was conducted from 5:00 to 6:00 pm followed by Pranayama, Trataka, and Om Chanting between 6:15 and 7:00 pm. Each session was started with prayer and ended with Shanti Path as per Kaivalyadham's tradition. The yoga training was conducted under the supervision of yoga expert having experience of >10 years. All the sessions were conducted in a large hall accommodating more than fifty participants. Instructions were given in English as well as in Hindi language. Benefits and impact of each yoga posture on body and mind were explained by the yoga teacher during practical sessions. They were advised not to compete with fellow practitioner or attempt to attain final position right in the beginning, especially when their body is not ready for the same. Practice was given according to the participants body limitations. Maintenance of the final posture in asana according to one's own limitations and in a relaxed way was emphasized. There was no tremor or any type of discomfort during maintenance of asanas. They were instructed not to alter the breathing voluntarily during asana, as the body would adjust the breathing as per the posture. Further, any doubts regarding yoga postures were clarified by the yoga teacher. Same yoga teacher was appointed for all the sessions in order to maintain the uniformity in teaching yoga practices. The details of yoga training and technique have been presented in [Table 2].
Table 2: Details of yoga training program

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Apart from yoga training, participants were given lectures for 3 h/day. The lectures were given by the experts in yoga philosophy. The lectures were based on stress management, yoga for total health, meditation, yoga in school education, and scientific basis of yoga and pranayama. Participants were free to do their daily chores for rest of the day. Nutritious and well-balanced diet was provided to all the participants in health-care center at a fixed time for 7 days.

All the participants stayed in a controlled environment at Kaivalyadham which is spread over two hundred acres of land.

Data analysis

Data were evaluated by IBM, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), India, Version 20.0. The Shapiro–Wilk test was used to assess the normality of distribution of investigated variable. Paired t-test was used to compare the mean scores of occupational stress and its domains within the group. Statistically significant level was set as 0.05.

  Results Top

The Kendriya Vidyalaya principals showed a significant decrease in role overload (t = 5.42, P < 0.001); role ambiguity (t = 2.65, P < 0.01); role conflict (t = 2.28, P < 0.05); under participation (t = 4.19, P < 0.001); powerlessness (t = 6.35, P < 0.001); intrinsic impoverishment (t = 2.74, P < 0.01); law status (t = 2.94, P < 0.001); and overall occupational stress (t = 4.33, P < 0.001) after 7 days of yoga training intervention. However, there was no significant change in unreasonable group and political pressure (t = 0.57, P > 0.05); responsibility for persons (t = 1.71, P > 0.05); poor peer relations (t = 0.22, P > 0.05); strenuous working conditions (t = 0.35, P > 0.05); and unprofitability (t = 1.10, P > 0.05) after yoga training intervention. The details are presented in [Table 3].
Table 3: Changes in factors of occupational stress before and after yoga intervention

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  Discussion Top

Thirty-three Kendriya Vidyalaya principals received 1 week of residential yoga training at Kaivalyadham Yoga Institute, Lonavla, India. The study participants showed significant decrease in occupational stress levels at the completion of the training intervention. In fact, most of the subscales of occupational stress also showed significant improvement.

Principals face several psychological stressors that undermine their performance at workplace. In fact, they are forced, more than ever, to become counselors, behavioral managers, and administrators in a contentious environment.[43] School principals are often unappreciated, constantly under fire from the higher authorities, and are overworked[44] and thus endure conflict and confrontations on a daily basis.[45] They often experience extreme stress due to demanding jobs and feel overburdened subsequently.[46] These stressors lead to several mental and physical health problems in principals. Physical health issues are often related to musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, eye strain, shoulder pain, neck pain, cervical spondylosis, headaches, hypercholesterolemia, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, prolonged fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and respiratory problems.[3] Mental health issues include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and psychosomatic disorders.[47]

In the present study, the principals of Kendriya Vidyalaya showed increased stress levels at the baseline. Further, earlier studies have indicated that high levels of stress are the root cause of several psychosomatic disorders.[48] Stress-related disorders may lead to time away from work[49] as well as on the job turnovers and job injuries.[50] There are high expectations from principals, which continue to escalate with new rules and guidelines in order to improve student performance and staff improvement. Evaluation of principals' own performance is often evaluated based on student performance as well as school transformation. This leads to buildup of constant pressure on the principals. Nevertheless, various coping strategies such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, counseling, behavioral therapy, and physical training are implemented in order to combat stress and promote health.[26],[51],[52],[53],[54],[55]

The results of this study showed significant improvement in role overload, role ambiguity, role conflict, under participation, powerlessness, intrinsic impoverishment, low status, and overall occupational stress. This indicates that 1-week residential yoga practices were effective in reducing occupational stress in principals. A similar study was conducted in BSF personnel wherein 9 days of yoga training showed significant improvement in scores of vigilance, a decrease in state anxiety and improved self-rated sleep.[56] This suggests that short duration of intensive yoga practices can reduce occupational stress in individuals under tremendous pressure.

Earlier studies showed that yoga practices are effective in reducing perceived stress, back pain, and improve psychological well-being at workplace.[57],[58] In fact, yoga practices create a sense of well-being, which leads to improvement in self-confidence and feelings of relaxation.[59] In addition, the relaxation induced through yoga practices helps to stabilize the autonomic nervous system with a tendency toward parasympathetic dominance.[60],[61],[62] The reduction in occupational stress after yoga in the present study may be due to improved heart rate variability of the participants. Further, the results of the present study are in concurrence with previous studies, wherein yoga practices were found to be effective in reducing stress.[63],[64],[65] The results of the present study suggest that yoga is beneficial in reducing occupational stress among principals. In addition, the findings suggest that conducting yoga workshops in educational institutes can reduce occupational stress in administrators, principals, and students in the long term. Moreover, the yoga intervention will be beneficial for individuals who are under stress due to various reasons.

However, the changes in occupational stress cannot be considered conclusive due to the small sample size, shorter duration of intervention, and absence of control group. Larger randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the broader efficacy of yoga for occupational stress in principals.

  Conclusion Top

Our findings suggest that 1 week of residential yoga training program which includes asanas and pranayama may lead to improvement in occupational stress and its subscales in principals. In practical terms, the present study suggests that holding a 1 week of rigorous yoga training program for administrators is relevant to reduce occupational stress and promote health. Yoga practices equip the administrators to handle stressful working conditions at the workplace and adapt to the various psychological and emotional needs of the job. Thus, yoga practices can be initiated in academic institutions as well as corporate offices as one of the coping strategies to overcome occupational stress and promotion of health and well-being.


The authors are grateful to Swami Maheshanandaji, Director of Research, Kaivalyadhama, Shri O. P. Tiwariji, Secretary, Kaivalyadhama, S. M. Y. M. Samiti and Shri Subodh Tiwari, CEO, Kaivalyadhama, for giving constant encouragement to complete research activities. The authors are thankful to yoga teachers of Kaivalyadhama for providing dedicated yoga sessions.

Financial support and sponsorship

Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute funded this study.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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Telles S, Gupta RK, Bhardwaj AK, Singh N, Mishra P, Pal DK, et al. Increased mental well-being and reduced state anxiety in teachers after participation in a residential yoga program. Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2018;24:105-12.  Back to cited text no. 65


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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