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The heart rate, breathing rate, and skin resistance were recorded for 20 community home girls (Home group) and for 20 age-matched girls from a regular school (School group). The former group had a significantly higher rate of breathing and a more irregular breath pattern known to correlate with high fear and anxiety, than the School group. Skin resistance was significantly lower in the School group, which may suggest greater arousal, 28 girls of the Home group formed 14 pairs, matched for age and duration of stay in the home. Subjects of a pair were randomly assigned to either yoga or games groups. For the former emphasis was on relaxation and awareness, whereas for the latter increasing physical activity was emphasized. At the end of an hour daily for six months both groups showed a significant decrease in the resting heart rate relative to initial values (Wilcoxon paired-sample rest), and the yoga group showed a significant decrease in breath rate, which appeared more regular but no significant increase in the skin resistance. These results suggest that a yoga program which includes relaxation, awareness, and graded physical activity is a useful addition to the routine of community home children.
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The study aimed at determining whether novices to yoga would be able to reduce their heart rate voluntarily and whether the magnitude of reduction would be more after 30 days of yoga training. Two groups (yoga and control, n = 12 each) were assessed on Day 1 and on Day 30. During the intervening 30 days, the yoga group received training in yoga techniques while the control group carried on with their routine. At each assessment the baseline heart rate was recorded for one minute, this was followed by a six-minute period during which participants were asked to attempt to voluntarily reduce their heart rate, using any strategy. Both the baseline heart rate and the lowest heart rate achieved voluntarily during the six-minute period were significantly lower in the yoga group on Day 30 compared to Day 1 by a group average of 10.7 beats per minute (i.e., bpm) and 6.8 bpm, respectively (p < .05, Wilcoxon paired signed ranks test). In contrast, there was no significant change in either the baseline heart rate or the lowest heart rate achieved voluntarily in the control group on Day 30 compared to Day 1. The results suggest that yoga training can enable practitioners to use their own strategies to reduce the heart rate, which has possible therapeutic applications.