Post traumatic stress symptoms and heart rate variability in Bihar flood survivors following yoga: a randomized controlled study

Telles, Shirley; Singh, Nilkamal; Joshi, Meesha; Balkrishna, Acharya
January 2010
BMC Psychiatry;2010, Vol. 10, p18
Academic Journal
Background: An earlier study showed that a week of yoga practice was useful in stress management after a natural calamity. Due to heavy rain and a rift on the banks of the Kosi river, in the state of Bihar in north India, there were floods with loss of life and property. A week of yoga practice was given to the survivors a month after the event and the effect was assessed. Methods: Twenty-two volunteers (group average age ± S.D, 31.5 ± 7.5 years; all of them were males) were randomly assigned to two groups, yoga and a non-yoga wait-list control group. The yoga group practiced yoga for an hour daily while the control group continued with their routine activities. Both groups' heart rate variability, breath rate, and four symptoms of emotional distress using visual analog scales, were assessed on the first and eighth day of the program. Results: There was a significant decrease in sadness in the yoga group (p < 0.05, paired t-test, post data compared to pre) and an increase in anxiety in the control group (p < 0.05, paired t-test, post data compared to pre). Conclusions: A week of yoga can reduce feelings of sadness and possibly prevent an increase in anxiety in flood survivors a month after the calamity.


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