Published: 2018-04-25

Effect of yoga and meditation on serum cortisol level in first-year medical students

Kislay Kumar, Vinay Singh, Devesh kumar, A. B. Asthana, Divya Mishra


Background: Yoga is a traditional technique to conserve and purify body, mind and soul. It is a mind-body bridge which involves relaxation, meditation and a set of physical exercises performed in association with breathing. In this new era of evolution, most of the population are depressed or in stress, irrespective of their age and gender.

Methods: This study is performed on 1st yr. medical students whose stress level is in higher side due to academic burden. An 55 medical students were selected as participants through counseling and were divided into yoga group (n= 27) and control group (n=28). Their morning serum cortisol level was assessed, and yoga group were instructed to practice yoga (1hr/day for 12 weeks) under supervision of yoga instructor. No such instruction was given to control group.

Results: Serum cortisol level is the marker of stress and inflammation. Higher cortisol level means high stress level. Yoga and meditation is documented to reduce stress level in regular practitioners.  Statistical analysis has shown decrease in morning serum cortisol level (572.18±168.03 to 544.98±139.89, 4.8% decrease, P value ˂0.05, significant) in yoga group after study. Control group have shown marked increase in cortisol level (558.89±162.69 to 577.26±254.5, 3.4% increase, P value = 0.74, not significant) after three months of study.

Conclusions: This study concludes that practicing Yoga has a significant effect on the reduction of stress and anxiety level in medical students.


Cortisol, Medical students, Stress, Yoga

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