Hatha-Yoga has become increasingly popular in western countries as a method for coping with stress. However, little is known about the physiological and psychological effects of yoga practice. We measured heart rate, blood pressure, the hormones cortisol, prolactin and growth hormone and certain psychological parameters in a yoga practicing group and a control group of young female volunteers reading in a comfortable position during the experimental period. There were no substantial differences between the groups concerning endocrine parameters and blood pressure.
The course of heart rate was significantly different, the yoga group had a decrease during the yoga practice. Significant differences between both groups were found in psychological parameters. In the personality inventory the yoga group showed markedly higher scores in life satisfaction and lower scores in excitability, aggressiveness, openness, emotionality and somatic complaints. Significant differences could also be observed concerning coping with stress and the mood at the end of the experiment. The yoga group had significant higher scores in high spirits and extravertedness.