International Journal of Yoga
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE Table of Contents   
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 195-204
Effect of 4-week heartfulness meditation on stress scores, sleep quality, and oxidative and inflammatory biochemical parameters in COVID-19 patients after completion of standard treatment – A randomized controlled trial

1 Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Biochemistry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India
3 Department of Community and Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India
4 Department of Biochemistry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh; Department of Biochemistry, Trichy SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India
5 Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Senthil Kumar Subramanian
Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalagiri - 522 503, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijoy.ijoy_95_22

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Context: COVID-19-affected patients showed increased stress, impaired sleep quality, altered complete blood count, and increased inflammatory and oxidative parameters. Yoga is an add-on nonpharmacological treatment that is established to normalize the abovementioned parameters. Heartfulness meditation is a form of Raja yoga. Aims: The present study aimed to study the effects of 4 weeks of heartfulness meditation on the abovementioned parameters in COVID-19 patients following treatment completion. Settings and Design: The present study was a randomized controlled trial carried out in the Department of Physiology, AIIMS, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh. Subjects and Methods: Out of 50 COVID-19 treatment-completed patients recruited for the study, 25 were randomly assigned to the study group who received 4-week app-based heartfulness meditation. Other 25 patients were assigned to the control group who received app-based relaxation for 4 weeks. Perceived stress score, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaire, baseline cardiovascular parameters, complete blood count, serum cortisol, inflammatory parameters, oxidative stress parameters, and antioxidant parameters were assessed before and after 4 weeks of intervention in both the groups. The outcome assessor was blinded in the present study. Statistical Analysis Used: The mean difference between the two groups was tested using the Student's t-test or Mann–Whitney U-test based on data distribution. Effect of intervention was analyzed using paired Student's t-test for dependent samples test or Wilcoxon signed-rank test based on data distribution. Results: The groups were comparable before intervention for all the variables. After 4 weeks of intervention, we observed a significant decrease in stress, circulating cortisol, inflammatory markers, and oxidative stress biomarker in both the groups. Further, we observed improved sleep quality and antioxidant biomarkers in both the groups. These beneficial alterations following intervention were high in the study group compared to the control group. Conclusions: Our results suggest that app-based heartfulness meditation/relaxation can be used as a nonpharmacological adjuvant to hasten the recovery process in patients who have completed the COVID-19 treatment protocol. Beneficial effects in subjects practicing heartfulness meditation were more than that observed in subjects practicing relaxation.

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