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BACKGROUND: The metabolic rate is an indicator of autonomic activity. Reduced sympathetic arousal probably resulting in hypometabolic states has been reported in several yogic studies. AIM: The main objective of this study was to assess the effect of yoga training on diurnal metabolic rates in yoga practitioners at two different times of the day (at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eighty eight healthy volunteers were selected and their metabolic rates assessed at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. using an indirect calorimeter at a yoga school in Bangalore, India. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The results show that the average metabolic rate of the yoga group was 12% lower than that of the non-yoga group (P < 0.001) measured at 9 p.m. and 16% lower at 6 a.m. (P < 0.001). The 9 p.m. metabolic rates of the yoga group were almost equal to their predicted basal metabolic rates (BMRs) whereas the metabolic rate was significantly higher than the predicted BMR for the non-yoga group. The 6 a.m. metabolic rate was comparable to their predicted BMR in the non-yoga group whereas it was much lower in the yoga group (P < 0.001). The lower metabolic rates in the yoga group at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. may be due to coping strategies for day-to-day stress, decreased sympathetic nervous system activity and probably, a stable autonomic nervous system response (to different stressors) achieved due to training in yoga.