Vidya Institute’s Integrative Yoga Research The Evaluation of Yoga and Vedic Sciences through Empirical Methods

Most of the following research projects were completed in part for Kathryn Curtis’s graduate work towards an MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology at York University. The last project, in progress, is part of her post-doctoral research at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network.

Vidya Institute Toronto

Project 4


Evaluation of a specialized yoga program for persons with a spinal cord injury: a pilot randomized controlled trial

The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to evaluate the effects of a specialized yoga program for individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) on pain, psychological, and mindfulness variables.

Materials and methods:
Participants with SCI (n=23) were outpatients or community members affiliated with a rehabilitation hospital. Participants were randomized to an Iyengar yoga (IY; n=11) group or to a 6-week wait-list control (WLC; n=12) group. The IY group participated in a twice-weekly 6-week seated IY program; the WLC group participated in the same yoga program, after the IY group’s yoga program had ended. Pain, psychological, and mindfulness measures were collected at two time points for both groups (within 1–2 weeks before and after program 1 and at a third time point for the WLC group (within 1 week after program 2).

Linear mixed-effect growth models were conducted to evaluate the main effects of group at T2 (postintervention), controlling for T1 (preintervention) scores. T2 depression scores were lower (F1,18=6.1, P<0.05) and T2 self-compassion scores higher (F1,18=6.57, P< 0.05) in the IY group compared to the WLC group. To increase sample size and power, the two groups were combined and analyzed across time by comparing pre- and postintervention scores. Main effects of time were found for depression scores, (F1,14.83=6.62, P<0.05), self-compassion, (F1,16.6=4.49, P<0.05), mindfulness (F1,16.79=5.42, P<0.05), mindful observing (F1,19.82=5.06, P<0.05), and mindful nonreactivity, (F1,16.53=4.92, P<0.05), all showing improvement after the intervention.

The results indicated that a specialized 6-week yoga intervention reduced depressive symptoms and increased self-compassion in individuals with SCI, and may also have fostered greater mindfulness.


NOTE: This project was conducted at the Lyndhurst Centre at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada, in May-August, 2016.





Peer Reviewed Journal Publication:

Curtis, K., Hitzig, S., Bechsgaard, G., Stoliker, C., Alton, C., Saunders, N., Leong, N., Katz, J.

(2017). Evaluation of a specialized yoga program for persons with a spinal cord injury: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Pain Research, 10, 999-1017. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S130530

Published Abstract Resulting from Poster Presentation at an International Conference:

Curtis, K., Stoliker, C., Bechsgaard, G., Alton, C., Saunders, N., & J., Katz, J. (2016). Evaluation of a Specialized Yoga Program for Persons with Spinal Cord Injury: A Randomized Controlled Study. [Abstract]. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 26, Supplement 2, pg. 22-39. Poster presented at the Symposium on Yoga Research, Massachusetts, USA. September, 2016.

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