Home About us Editorial board Search Browse articles Submit article Instructions Contacts Login 
Users Online: 457
Home Print this page Email this page


Previous article Browse articles Next article 
J Edu Health Promot 2018,  7:43

Psychophysiological effects of yoga on stress in college students

1 Department of Yoga and Management, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Yoga, Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis, Bhadbhada Square, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Submission06-Jul-2017
Date of Acceptance04-Sep-2017
Date of Web Publication01-Mar-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Tikhe Sham Ganpat
Department of Yoga, Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, 2nd Floor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis, Bhadbhada Square, Bhopal - 462003, Madhya Pradesh
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_74_17

Rights and Permissions

College students are vulnerable to a critical period in developmental maturation, facing rigorous academic work, and learning how to function independently. Physical activities such as running and bicycling have been shown to improve mood and relieve stress. However, college students often have low levels of physical activity. Yoga is an ancient physical and mental activity that affects mood and stress. However, studies examining the psychophysiological effects of yoga are rare in peer-reviewed journals. The aim of this study is to establish preliminary evidence for the psychophysiological effects of yoga on stress in young-adult college students. The present study suggests that yoga has positive effects on a psychophysiological level that leads to decreased levels of stress in college student. Further research is needed to examine the extent to which different types of yogic practices address the needs of different college subpopulations (e.g., overweight, sedentary, and smokers).

Keywords: College students, review, yoga

How to cite this article:
Tripathi MN, Kumari S, Ganpat TS. Psychophysiological effects of yoga on stress in college students. J Edu Health Promot 2018;7:43

How to cite this URL:
Tripathi MN, Kumari S, Ganpat TS. Psychophysiological effects of yoga on stress in college students. J Edu Health Promot [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Mar 24];7:43. Available from: https://www.jehp.net//text.asp?2018/7/1/43/226481

  Introduction Top

About 40%–50% of college students are physically inactive. Similarly, it was found that college students' physical activity has been seriously neglected as a research topic, there is a lack of multiple-level approaches (i.e., personal, psychosocial, and environmental levels) for examining physical activity behaviors in the college student population and measures of physical activity are subjective and inconsistent which makes comparisons of physical activity patterns among different samples very difficult or impossible.[1] Similarly, the available research indicates that the prevalence of stress is increasing among college students.[2] The previous study reported that yoga reduces menstrual cramps and menstrual distress in female undergraduate students with primary dysmenorrhea.[3] The psychophysiological changes that characterize the efficacy of yoga for better stress management in college students have not been studied adequately.

  Yoga Top

Participation in physical activity on a regular basis is one of the primary factors in maintaining sound health in modern society. Due to sedentary lifestyle leading many health-related issues, the prevalence of physical inactivity among college students calls for immediate action.[4] Along with aerobics and dance, yoga is one of the most famous physical activity that college girl student would like to prefer as a choice.[5] Physical activity such as yoga is a key element in health promotion. The traditional expressions of yoga as a lifestyle is firmly rooted in and committed to the classic texts (e.g., Yoga Sutra by Patanjali, Hatha Yoga texts like Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Gheranda Samhita) and embrace the concept of the eight limbs, or aspects, of yoga. In more specific, the eight limbs are of great interest to yogis who seek to adhere to yoga as a philosophical foundation for life, rather than solely a physical practice.[6] Therefore, yoga is essentially an art and science of holistic living; an effective method for improving health in addition to the prevention and management of diseases.[7] Yoga reduces stress through reducing sympathetic activity,[8],[9] and improves the sense of general well-being.[10]

Stress and college student

Stress affects college students' physical, mental, social, and intellectual health. College student will not always possess the necessary stress management skills and coping strategies. Physical activity is one coping strategy that is perhaps underutilized by many college students.[11] Many systematic reviews and different studies on effects on yoga for stress management in college students revealed positive effects of yoga (as a mind-body intervention) on stress reduction in college student.[12],[13],[14]

Physiological effects of yoga in college students

Yoga holds potential as a self-empowering, nonpharmacological method for enhancing stress management, and wellness in college students.[15] It was reported that Pranayama training decreases sympathetic activity, resulting in mental relaxation and decreased autonomic arousal thereby, decreasing force fluctuations during isometric contraction. This was reflected as improvement in hand grip strength and endurance in medical students.[16] In one study aimed at investigating the effect of integrated yoga on autonomic parameters and psychological well-being during both pre- and post-phases of menstrual cycle in healthy young female controls, it was observed that there was a significant alteration of autonomic functions and psychological status in premenstrual phase when compared with postmenstrual phase in young healthy females. In addition, it was revealed that regular practice of yoga has beneficial effects on both phases of menstrual cycle by bringing parasympathetic dominance and psychological well-being probably by balancing neuro-endocrinal axis.[17]

Psychological effects of yoga in college students

It was observed that Suryanamaskara, a yogic practice was effective in leading to relaxation dispositions such as physical relaxation, mental quiet, at ease/peace, rested and refreshed, strength and awareness and joy and reduces sleepiness, somatic stress, worry and negative emotion at a dispositional level.[18] Yogic practices play an important role in enhancing emotional sensitivity,[19] sustained attention,[20] mental performance,[21] and balance personality trait [22] among students, thus paving the way for their academic excellence. Yoga also reduces perceived stress and negative affects in college students thereby improving psychological well-being in them.

Suggested evidence-based yoga therapy protocol for college students

Based on clinical management and psychophysiological effects of yoga in college students, the suggested evidence-based yoga therapy for college students may include following yogic practices:[11],[13],[16],[17],[18],[23],[24]

  • Starting Prayer
  • Kapalbhati Kriya (frontal brain cleansing), Agnisar Kriya (activating the digestive fire)
  • Hands in and out breathing, hands stretch breathing, ankle stretch breathing
  • Jogging, forward and backward bending, side bending, twisting
  • Surya namaskara (salutations to the sun practice)
  • Tadasan (palm tree pose), Vrikshasana (tree pose), Padahastasan (hand to foot pose), Ardha Chakrasana (half wheel pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Shalabhasana (locust pose)
  • Quick Relaxation Technique
  • Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama (psychic network purification), Sheetali Pranayama (cooling breath), Seetkari Pranayama (hissing breath), Bhramari Pranayama (humming bee breath)
  • Om Meditation
  • Closing Prayer.


The present review study suggests that yoga has positive effects on psychophysiological level that leads to increased academic performance in college student. Further research on the relationship between yoga practice and college students is warranted to confirm the efficacy of yoga and to include it in the syllabus of the college student.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Keating XD, Guan J, Piñero JC, Bridges DM. A meta-analysis of college students' physical activity behaviors. J Am Coll Health 2005;54:116-25.  Back to cited text no. 1
Whitehead JR, Corbin CB. Youth fitness testing: The effect of percentile-based evaluative feedback on intrinsic motivation. Res Q Exerc Sport 1991;62:225-31.  Back to cited text no. 2
Berger BG, Owen DR. Mood alteration with yoga and swimming: Aerobic exercise may not be necessary. Percept Mot Skills 1992;75:1331-43.  Back to cited text no. 3
Cruz SY, Fabián C, Pagán I, Ríos JL, González AM, Betancourt J, et al. Physical activity and its associations with sociodemographic characteristics, dietary patterns, and perceived academic stress in students attending college in Puerto Rico.P R Health Sci J 2013;32:44-50.  Back to cited text no. 4
Chong CS, Tsunaka M, Tsang HW, Chan EP, Cheung WM. Effects of yoga on stress management in healthy adults: A systematic review. Altern Ther Health Med 2011;17:32-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
Malathi A, Damodaran A. Stress due to exams in medical students – Role of yoga. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1999;43:218-24.  Back to cited text no. 6
Gopal A, Mondal S, Gandhi A, Arora S, Bhattacharjee J. Effect of integrated yoga practices on immune responses in examination stress – A preliminary study. Int J Yoga 2011;4:26-32.  Back to cited text no. 7
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Bhat N, Jain S, Singh A, Wadhwani A, Mansuri R, Bhat S, et al. Prevalence and characteristic of headache in dental professionals: A Questionnaire based survey. J Clin Diagn Res 2016;10:ZC107-10.  Back to cited text no. 8
Yang NY, Kim SD. Effects of a yoga program on menstrual cramps and menstrual distress in undergraduate students with primary dysmenorrhea: A Single-blind, randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med 2016;22:732-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
Satyananda S. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. 4th Revesite edition. Munger, Bihar, India: Yoga Publications Trust; 2008.  Back to cited text no. 10
Kanojia S, Sharma VK, Gandhi A, Kapoor R, Kukreja A, Subramanian SK, et al. Effect of yoga on autonomic functions and psychological status during both phases of menstrual cycle in young healthy females. J Clin Diagn Res 2013;7:2133-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
Thangavel D, Gaur GS, Sharma VK, Bhavanani AB, Rajajeyakumar M, Syam SA, et al. Effect of slow and fast pranayama training on handgrip strength and endurance in healthy volunteers. J Clin Diagn Res 2014;8:BC01-3.  Back to cited text no. 12
Goldstein MR, Lewis GF, Newman R, Brown JM, Bobashev G, Kilpatrick L, et al. Improvements in well-being and vagal tone following a yogic breathing-based life skills workshop in young adults: Two open-trial pilot studies. Int J Yoga 2016;9:20-6.  Back to cited text no. 13
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Brems C, Colgan D, Freeman H, Freitas J, Justice L, Shean M, et al. Elements of yogic practice: Perceptions of students in healthcare programs. Int J Yoga 2016;9:121-9.  Back to cited text no. 14
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Sengupta P. Health impacts of yoga and pranayama: A State-of-the-art review. Int J Prev Med 2012;3:444-58.  Back to cited text no. 15
Vempati RP, Telles S. Yoga-based guided relaxation reduces sympathetic activity judged from baseline levels. Psychol Rep 2002;90:487-94.  Back to cited text no. 16
Udupa K, Madanmohan, Bhavanani AB, Vijayalakshmi P, Krishnamurthy N. Effect of pranayam training on cardiac function in normal young volunteers. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2003;47:27-33.  Back to cited text no. 17
Rocha KK, Ribeiro AM, Rocha KC, Sousa MB, Albuquerque FS, Ribeiro S, et al. Improvement in physiological and psychological parameters after 6 months of yoga practice. Conscious Cogn 2012;21:843-50.  Back to cited text no. 18
Godse AS, Shejwal BR, Godse AA. Effects of suryanamaskar on relaxation among college students with high stress in Pune, India. Int J Yoga 2015;8:15-21.  Back to cited text no. 19
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Ganpat TS, Dash S, Ramarao NH. Yoga therapy for promoting emotional sensitivity in university students. J Educ Health Promot 2014;3:45.  Back to cited text no. 20
Sheela, Nagendra HR, Ganpat TS. Efficacy of yoga for sustained attention in university students. Ayu 2013;34:270-2.  Back to cited text no. 21
Ganpat TS, Nagendra HR, Selvi V. Efficacy of yoga for mental performance in university students. Indian J Psychiatry 2013;55:349-52.  Back to cited text no. 22
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Tikhe SG, Nagendra HR, Tripathi N. Ancient science of yogic life for academic excellence in university students. Anc Sci Life 2012;31:80-3.  Back to cited text no. 23
West J, Otte C, Geher K, Johnson J, Mohr DC. Effects of hatha yoga and African dance on perceived stress, affect, and salivary cortisol. Ann Behav Med 2004;28:114-8.  Back to cited text no. 24


Previous article  Next article
Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded905    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal