Yoga is considered as stress-reduction training. A case-control cohort study was designed to investigate the effects of yoga training on stress and plasma levels of cortisol in young (20 to 35 years) Iranian women. For experimental group, women (n=15) were recruited after their consent from a yoga training center in Isfahan (Iran) to participate in a twice weekly 90 min classes of yoga exercises for a period of three months. The same number of age matched voluntary women who had no experience in yoga or similar training also participated in the study as control group. Cooper-Smith stress test score and plasma cortisol levels were examined in both groups at the beginning and the end of the yoga training period. The results of this study indicated that yoga training reduced both stress and plasma cortisol levels significantly. It is concluded that yoga has beneficial effects on mentally distressed individuals.
Key words: Yoga, meditation, asana, stress, cortisol.
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