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Int J Yoga. 2019 Jan-Apr;12(1):73-77. doi: 10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_66_17.

Effect of Yoga Intervention on Short-Term Heart Rate Variability in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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Department of Physiology, Dr. ALM PGIBMS, University of Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Department of Physiology, Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Department of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.
Medical Officer, Swabhimaan Trust (Holistic Solutions for Autism), Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.



Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairment in social interactions, communication, restricted, and repetitive behaviors. Evidence-based treatment options for ASD are limited. Yoga is practiced by over 20 million people worldwide, and multiple studies have investigated yoga as a possible effective intervention for children with ASD.


The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of yoga intervention on short-term heart rate variability (HRV) in children with ASD.


In this study, 50 children (38 boys and 12 girls) with ASD were recruited from Swabhimaan Trust, Palavakkam, Chennai. They were randomly grouped into ASD with yoga intervention group (n = 25) and ASD without yoga intervention group (n = 25) by simple lottery method. Yoga group children underwent yoga training for 3 months, and the control group did not receive any such training. For short-term HRV, 15 min electrocardiogram recording in sitting posture was recorded in lead II using a simple analog amplifier.


In HRV, time domain parameters such as mean RR interval (0.72 [0.74] to 0.94 [0.92]), standard deviation of the NN intervals (52.04 [54.23] to 74.48 [72.80]), and root of the mean squared differences of successive NN interval (32.60 [34.40] to 40.83 [42.90]) significantly increased in ASD children after yoga intervention. In frequency-domain parameters, high frequency (HF) in n. u (48.08 [47.24] to 58.37 [59.22]) shows a significant increase and low frequency (LF) in n. u (52.4 [51.82] to 40.51 [40.12]), and LF/HF ratio (1.29 [1.31] to 0.78 [0.79]) shows a significant decrease in ASD with yoga intervention group children after 3 months of yoga training.


Yoga interventions have been successful in bringing parasympathetic dominance in ASD children, and the greater advantage is being a noninvasive way of intervention to support children with ASD and help them to achieve physiological as well as psychological balance.


Autism; autonomic imbalance; short-term heart rate variability; yoga

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