Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Impact of Short-Term Practice of Yoga on Heart Rate Variability

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Impact of Short-Term Practice of Yoga on Heart Rate Variability

Article excerpt

Byline: A. Vinay, D. Venkatesh, V. Ambarish

Background: Yoga is a science that facilitates homeostasis, an ancient way of life intended to improve the quality of life of an individual. Practice of yoga is proposed to alter the autonomic nervous system and affect the cardiovascular functioning. This study was intended to assess the influence of short-term practice of yoga for a month on heart rate variability (HRV). Materials and Methods: Totally, 40 healthy male volunteers in the age group of 30–60 years willing to practice yoga for a month were included in the study. HRV was assessed using HRV device (RMS Vagus, India). Preinterventional assessment of HRV was done in these subjects. Practice of yoga that included a set of physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana) were performed for an hour daily for 1 month under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor. Postinterventional assessment of HRV was done. The values were expressed in median and their interquartile range, and statistical analysis was done to compare the changes using Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test. Results: Thirty-two of 40 subjects recruited for yoga practice completed the study protocol. Analysis of HRV revealed that in time domain parameters, SDNN increased from 33.60 (31.41–44.82) to 42.11 (34.43–57.51), RMSSD increased from 22.00 (16.00–33.80) to 25.6 (17.0–34.8), and PNN50 increased from 2.45 (0.80–15.38) to 7.35 (1.40–18.57) after intervention. In the frequency domain parameters, the low-frequency (LF) power spectrum reduced from 39.30 (25.1–46.25) to 30.40 (22.75–40.62) and LF/high-frequency ratio was reduced from 2.62 (1.91–4.07) to 2.28 (1.4–3.07) after 1 month practice of yoga. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Conclusion: Autonomic balance tilts toward parasympathetic predominance after 1 month practice of yoga.


Yoga is a way of life aiming to promote healthy body and healthy mind.[sup][1] It is a valuable gift of the Indian Vedic philosophy to the modern world. Yoga in Sanskrit means yoke or union.[sup][1] Yoga aims at uniting individual self with the cosmic consciousness. This is achieved through physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana).[sup][1] Yoga is emerging as an important modifying factor for health and behavior to achieve better physical and mental well-being.

The practice of asanas improves the muscle strength, mind-body coordination, and balance.[sup][2] Further, it improves the blood flow, tissue perfusion and oxygenation, and enhancing functions at cellular level. Meditation and breathing technique calms down the mind, improves the concentration enhancing better work output. By maintaining tranquility of mind, it can promote clear thinking, better judgment, and effective decision making.[sup][3] It also alters the autonomic balance to promote health.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in developed and developing countries.[sup][4] Autonomic imbalance with sympathetic overactivity leads to hypertension, arrhythmias, and metabolic dysfunction.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is a noninvasive tool for assessment of cardiac autonomic status. The decrease in HRV is a clinical predictor of mortality due to cardiac causes.[sup][5] HRV is the temporal variation in consecutive heart beats measured from a standard electrocardiogram (ECG). R wave is the peak of QRS complex; the duration between two consecutive R wave peaks is termed the relative risk interval. It is also called NN intervals when the heart is beating at sinus rhythm. HRV is the measurement of the variability of the NN intervals. The assessment of this difference is performed in time domain and frequency domain. These parameters were used to assess cardiac autonomic control which is the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic regulators of heart. …

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