Improve Sleep in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy with Yoga

Improve Sleep in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Sleep disturbance is a common problem for women with breast cancer, and can have a variety of causes, from stress and depression related to the treatment or diagnosis, to a side effect of some of the drugs and anti-nausea medications used in chemotherapy regimens. Yoga not only produced benefits in the short term, it also produced benefits in sleep quality three months and six months after treatment.” – Paul Raeburn

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Yoga practice is a form of mindfulness training that has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients.  In today’s Research News article “Randomized trial of Tibetan yoga in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5735004/ ), Chaoul and colleagues examine the ability of yoga practice to improve sleep in breast cancer patients.

 

They recruited patients with Stage 1 to 3 breast cancer scheduled to undergo chemotherapy. They were randomly assigned to usual care or to either receive a Tibetan Yoga Program or a stretching program. Participants met for 4, 75 to 90-minute, sessions during chemotherapy and 3 booster sessions over the next 6 months. The participants were also encouraged to practice at home. The Tibetan Yoga Program consisted of “1) mindfulness and focused attention through guided meditation with breathing and visualization; 2) an alternate nostril breathing practice and a breath retention exercise; 3) Tsa Lung movements; and 4) closing with a brief compassion-based meditation.” The participants were measured before and after the programs and 3, 6, and 12 months later for sleep quality, fatigue, and actigraph measured sleep patterns.

 

They found that all groups improved in sleep quality and fatigue over the 12-month measurement period. But the Tibetan Yoga group had significantly less daily sleep disturbances and fewer minutes awake before sleep onset. Hence, participation in the Tibetan Yoga Program had modest benefits for the quality of sleep for the patients. The Tibetan Yoga Program contains a number of different components including meditation, postures, and breathing exercises. It is impossible to determine in the current study which components or which combinations of components were necessary and sufficient for the benefits.

 

These results are encouraging but not clinically significant as the effects were very modest. But,

it should be kept in mind that yoga and meditation programs have been shown to improve a number of other impacts of breast cancer diagnosis and survival. So, the total impact of participation in yoga for breast cancer patients may be much greater than implied by the current results.

 

So, improve sleep in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy with yoga.

 

“it is encouraging to see that the women who practiced yoga outside of class had improved sleep outcomes over time. Previous research has established that yoga effectively reduces sleep disturbances for cancer patients, but have not included active control groups or long-term follow-up.” – Lorenzo Cohen

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chaoul, A., Milbury, K., Spelman, A., Basen-Engquist, K., Hall, M. H., Wei, Q., Shih, Y. T., Arun, B., Valero, V., Perkins, G. H., Babiera, G. V., Wangyal, T., Engle, R., Harrison, C. A., Li, Y., … Cohen, L. (2017). Randomized trial of Tibetan yoga in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Cancer, 124(1), 36-45.

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND

This randomized trial examined the effects of a Tibetan yoga program (TYP) versus a stretching program (STP) and usual care (UC) on sleep and fatigue in women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.

METHODS

Women with stage I–III breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy were randomized to TYP (n=74), STP (n=68), or UC (n=85) groups. Participants in the TYP and STP groups participated in 4 sessions during chemotherapy, followed by three booster sessions over the subsequent 6 months, and encouraged to practice at home. Self-report measures of sleep disturbances (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) fatigue (Brief Fatigue Inventory), and actigraphy were collected at baseline, 1-week post-treatment, and 3, 6 and 12 months.

RESULTS

There were no group differences in total sleep disturbances or fatigue levels over time. However, patients in TYP reported fewer daily disturbances 1-week post-treatment than STP (difference=−0.43, 95% CI: −0.82, −0.04, P=0.03) and UC (difference=−0.41, 95.5% CI: −0.77, −0.05, P=0.02). Group differences at the other time points were maintained for TYP versus STP. Actigraphy data revealed greater minutes awake after sleep onset for STP 1-week post treatment versus TYP (difference=15.36, 95% CI: 7.25,23.48, P=0.0003) and UC (difference=14.48, 95% CI: 7.09,21.87, P=0.0002). Patients in TYP who practiced at least two times a week during follow-up reported better PSQI and actigraphy outcomes at 3 and 6 months post-treatment than those who did not and better than those in UC.

CONCLUSIONS

Participating in TYP during chemotherapy resulted in modest short-term benefits in sleep quality, with long-term benefits emerging over time for those who practiced TYP at least two times a week.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5735004/

 

Improve Physical and Respiratory Function with Yoga

Improve Physical and Respiratory Function with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Respiration is our primary and most important movement pattern … and also the most dysfunctional.” – Karel Lewit

 

Breathing is essential for life and generally occurs automatically. It’s easy to take for granted as it’s been there our entire lives. Nevertheless, we become more aware of it when it varies with circumstances, such as when we exercise and also in emotional states, especially fear and anxiety. But we rarely notice it during everyday ongoing life. Yet, its characteristics are associated with our state of well-being. Slow deep breathing is characteristic of a healthy relaxed state. Breathing exercises are common in yoga practices and have been found to have a number of beneficial effects.

 

Yoga practice contains a number of different components that are mixed in varying combinations in different yoga practices. They consist of postures, meditation, relaxation, breathing exercises, and chanting. This presents a challenge in interpreting the beneficial effects of yoga practice. It is difficult to determine which component or which combination of components is required for the benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Positive Effects of Yoga on Physical and Respiratory Functions in Healthy Inactive Middle-Aged People.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329219/ ), and colleagues examine the effects of yogic postures and the added benefits of yogic breathing in improving respiratory function in healthy inactive middle-aged people. They recruited inactive non-smoking adults aged 40 to 60 years who were not yoga practitioners and randomly assigned them to receive either training in yoga postures or training in yoga postures plus yogic breathing training. Training occurred in a 70-minute session once a week for 8 weeks. Participants were also provided a DVD for a 7-minute home exercises twice a week. They were measured before and after training for body size and composition, muscle endurance, resting heart rate, flexibility, respiratory function, and respiratory muscle strength.

 

They found both groups after training had significant improvements in muscle endurance, resting heart rate, and upper extremity flexibility. But only the group that had additional breathing exercises had significant improvements in lower extremity flexibility. Both groups had significant improvements in overall pulmonary function, including vital capacity, forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume, and peak expiratory flow rate. But only the group that had additional breathing exercises had significant improvements in respiratory muscle strength and maximum inspiratory pressure.

 

The results demonstrated that yoga practice produces improvements in strength and flexibility and in respiratory function. But, adding breathing exercises produces additional benefits in flexibility and respiratory function. The study did not include a control group that performed a different exercise with equivalent intensity. So, it can’t be determined whether the physical improvements were specific to yoga or would have occurred with any equivalent exercise. But they do suggest that practicing yoga has physical benefits for strength, flexibility, and respiratory function, and including yogic breathing exercises helps to maximize the effectiveness of the yoga practice.

 

So, improve physical and respiratory function with yoga.

 

yoga breathing: pranayama. It’s the art of breathing. Taking breathing to the next level. Learning different breathing techniques can add more beneficial oxygen to our bodies, aid in digestion, hone our concentration skills, calm our nerves, and much more.” – Gaiam

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts Yamamoto-Morimoto and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Yamamoto-Morimoto, K., Horibe, S., Takao, R., & Anami, K. (2019). Positive Effects of Yoga on Physical and Respiratory Functions in Healthy Inactive Middle-Aged People. International journal of yoga, 12(1), 62-67.

 

Abstract

Context:

Yoga improves physical and respiratory functions in healthy inactive middle-aged people.

Aim:

This study aimed to assess the effects of 8 weeks of asana and asana with pranayama lessons in order to clarify the influence of two different combinations of yoga practice on physical and respiratory functions in healthy inactive middle-aged people.

Subjects and Methods:

A total of 28 participants (mean age: 52.7 years) were divided into a yoga asana (YA) group and YA with pranayama (YAP) group. Participants attended a 70-min session once a week for 8 weeks. The YA group practiced basic asana without specific breathing instructions, while the YAP group practiced basic asanawith specific breathing instructions (pranayama). Respiratory function was measured with an autospirometer. Physical function assessments included the 30-s chair stand test and upper and lower extremity flexibility. All tests were assessed at baseline and after 8 weeks of intervention.

Statistical Analysis:

Changes in scores were analyzed with the paired t-test for each group. Pre-post results were compared for all the measured values. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results:

Both groups showed significant improvements in physical and overall respiratory functions after the 8-week yoga intervention. However, the maximal inspiratory pressure and lower extremity flexibility improved only in the YAP group.

Conclusions:

The 8-week yoga intervention for healthy inactive middle-aged people improved the overall respiratory and physical functions, and the inclusion of pranayama had the added benefit of improving inspiratory muscle strength and global body flexibility.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329219/

 

Improve Glaucoma with Meditation

Improve Glaucoma with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a relaxation program with meditation can lower IOP (intraocular pressure) in glaucoma patients and improve their quality of life by lowering stress hormones like cortisol.” – Tanuj Dada

 

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 years of age, although it can occur at younger ages. It affects over 65 million people worldwide and over 3 million Americans. It involves an abnormally high pressure in the eye that if untreated produces permanent damage to the retina and the optic nerve. It often occurs without other symptoms and can only be detected with measurement of intraocular pressure. Treatments are designed to prevent further damage by lowering intraocular pressure and may involve eyedrops, drugs, laser treatment or surgery. “These therapies are costly and have ocular and systemic side effects that can adversely affect the health-related quality of life of glaucoma patients.”

 

Mindfulness training is known to be able to lower blood pressure. So, it is possible that meditation practice may be useful in the treatment of glaucoma. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Intraocular Pressure, Lowers Stress Biomarkers and Modulates Gene Expression in Glaucoma: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://eyewire.news/articles/study-meditation-an-effective-therapy-to-reduce-eye-pressure-in-primary-open-angle-glaucoma/), Dada and colleagues recruited patients with open-angle Glaucoma who were being treated with prescription eye drops and randomly assigned them to either receive a 3 week, once a day for 60 minutes, program of meditation and yogic breathing exercises or to a wait-list control condition. They were measured before and after treatment for intraocular pressure, quality of life, stress-related serum biomarkers [cortisol, β-endorphins, IL6, TNF-α, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, reactive oxygen species, total antioxidant capacity], and whole genome expression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control that the Glaucoma patients who meditated had significantly lower intraocular pressure and stress-related serum biomarkers and significantly improved quality of life.  Additionally, meditation significantly reduced the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol levels and increased the levels of beta-endorphins and brain-derived neurotrophic factors and reduced the levels of the pro-inflammatory markers, interleukins. In addition, the greater the decrease in intraocular pressure the greater the improvements in quality of life and the stress-related serum biomarkers. These changes correlated well with gene expression profiling.

 

These are exciting results that suggest that meditation may be a safe and effective treatment for Glaucoma. The reduction in intraocular pressure may reduce further damage to the optic nerve and help to preserve the remaining vision of the patients. Further the reduction in stress hormones and inflammation suggests an overall improvement in the patient’s health.

 

Meditation appears to produce these benefits by reducing the physiological responses to stress. This makes sense as stress has been shown to be highly related to the development of Glaucoma and mindfulness practices are well known to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. The authors speculate that the relaxation produced by meditation and yogic breathing exercises is responsible for the benefits. Regardless of the mechanism, the findings indicate that meditation practice may be a treatment to slow further visual degeneration and improve the lives of Glaucoma sufferers,

 

So, improve glaucoma with meditation.

 

“When scientists asked 45 glaucoma patients to try mindfulness meditation for an hour a day for three weeks they discovered that the pressure in their eyes lowered by 25 per cent  compared to patients who stuck to eye drops.” Sarah Knapton

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dada, Tanuj, Mittal, Deepti, Mohanty, Kuldeep, Faiq, Muneeb A., Bhat, Muzaffer A., Yadav, Raj K., Sihota, Ramanjit, Sidhu, Talvir, Velpandian, Thirumurthy, Kalaivani, Mani, Pandey, Ravindra M., Gao, Ying, Sabel, Bernhard A., Dada, Rima. Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Intraocular Pressure, Lowers Stress Biomarkers and Modulates Gene Expression in Glaucoma: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Glaucoma: December 2018 – Volume 27 – Issue 12 – p 1061–1067. doi: 10.1097/IJG.0000000000001088

 

Background: Reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) in primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is currently the only approach to prevent further optic nerve head damage. However, other mechanisms such as ischemia, oxidative stress, glutamate excitotoxicity, neurotrophin loss, inflammation/glial activation, and vascular dysregulation are not addressed. Because stress is a key risk factor affecting these mechanisms, we evaluated whether mindfulness-based stress reduction can lower IOP and normalize typical stress biomarkers.

Materials and Methods: In a prospective, randomized trial 90 POAG patients (180 eyes; age above 45 y) were assigned to a waitlist control or mindfulness meditation group which practiced daily for 21 days. We measured IOP (primary endpoint), quality of life (QOL), stress-related serum biomarkers [cortisol, β-endorphins, IL6, TNF-α, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), reactive oxygen species (ROS), total antioxidant capacity (TAC)], and whole genome expression.

Results: Between-group comparisons revealed significantly lowered IOP in meditators (OD: 18.8 to 12.7, OS 19.0 to 13.1 mm Hg) which correlated with significantly lowered stress-biomarker levels including cortisol (497.3 to 392.3 ng/mL), IL6 (2.8 to 1.5 ng/mL), TNF-α (57.1 to 45.4 pg/mL), ROS (1625 to 987 RLU/min/104 neutrophils), and elevated β-endorphins (38.4 to 52.7 pg/mL), BDNF (56.1 to 83.9 ng/mL), and TAC (5.9 to 9.3) (all P<0.001). These changes correlated well with gene expression profiling. Meditators improved in QOL (P<0.05).

Conclusions: A short course of mindfulness-based stress reduction by meditation in POAG, reduces IOP, improves QOL, normalizes stress biomarkers, and positively modifies gene expression. Mindfulness meditation can be recommended as adjunctive therapy for POAG.

https://eyewire.news/articles/study-meditation-an-effective-therapy-to-reduce-eye-pressure-in-primary-open-angle-glaucoma/

 

Improve Response Inhibition with Yogic Breathing

Improve Response Inhibition with Yogic Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“At its core YOGA is early study of human psychology. For me, to be curious about yoga is to be curious about yourself, and about other people…I’m curious about YOU! I’m interested in the way our community responds, and more importantly how we behave, IN REAL LIFE.” – Erica Mather

 

Mindfulness practices such as meditationyoga, and tai chi/qigong have been shown to have a myriad of positive benefits for the practitioner and they have been shown to alter a large variety of cognitive (thought) processes, such as attentional ability, memory, verbal fluency, critical thinking, learning, analytic thinking, mathematical ability, higher level (meta-cognitive) thinking, and cognitive reappraisal. A very important cognitive ability for the control of behavior is response inhibition. This is the ability to restrain or withhold an inappropriate behavior when necessary. This ability is particularly underdeveloped in adolescents frequently resulting in impulsive behavior.

 

In today’s Research News article “Immediate effects of yoga breathing with intermittent breath holding on response inhibition among healthy volunteers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2018;volume=11;issue=2;spage=99;epage=104;aulast=Saoji ), Saoji and colleagues examine the ability of yoga breathing practices to improve short-term response inhibition. Yoga practitioners between the ages of 18 – 25 years were recruited and participated in 8 weeks of breathing practice followed by baseline assessment. On separate days the participants engaged in either a 40-minute conditions of yoga breathing with intermittent breath holding or yoga breathing with breath awareness.

 

Yoga breathing with intermittent breath holding included the regulated yogic breathing for 20 min incorporating phases of inhalation, internal retention of breath, exhalation, and external retention of breath. Yoga breathing with breath awareness involved normal breathing while attending to the breath. At baseline and immediately after the breathing sessions they participated in a Go – No Go task where they pressed keys in response to stimuli unless a No Go signal was presented after the stimulus in which case they were to not respond; inhibit responding.

 

They found that after both the Yogic breathing with breath awareness condition and the Yogic breathing with intermittent breath holding condition the participants demonstrated significantly improved performance in the No Go condition but not the Go condition. This suggests that after either breathing sessions response inhibition was enhanced but not simple responding. This is an interesting result, but it does not demonstrate that the breathing condition was responsible as any attention task may have produced similar results. So, future work needs to include alternative attentional tasks not involving breathing. Nevertheless, the results suggest that short-term yogic breathing may be beneficial to the practitioner in improving their ability to withhold responses when appropriate.

 

So, improve response inhibition with yogic breathing.

 

a growing number of scientific studies suggest that yoga may enhance students’ mind-body awareness, self-regulation, and physical fitness which may, in turn, promote improved behavior, mental state, health, and performance ” – Bethany Butzer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Saoji AA, Raghavendra B R, Rajesh S K, Manjunath N K. Immediate effects of yoga breathing with intermittent breath holding on response inhibition among healthy volunteers. Int J Yoga 2018;11:99-104

 

Abstract
Background: There is very little evidence available on the effects of yoga-based breathing practices on response inhibition. The current study used stop-signal paradigm to assess the effects of yoga breathing with intermittent breath holding (YBH) on response inhibition among healthy volunteers. Materials and Methods: Thirty-six healthy volunteers (17 males + 19 females), with mean age of 20.31 ± 3.48 years from a university, were recruited in a within-subject repeated measures (RM) design. The recordings for stop signal task were performed on three different days for baseline, post-YBH, and post yogic breath awareness (YBA) sessions. Stop-signal reaction time (SSRT), mean reaction time to go stimuli (go RT), and the probability of responding on-stop signal trials (p [r/s]) were analyzed for 36 volunteers using RM analysis of variance. Results: SSRT reduced significantly in both YBH (218.33 ± 38.38) and YBA (213.15 ± 37.29) groups when compared to baseline (231.98 ± 29.54). No significant changes were observed in go RT and p (r/s). Further, the changes in SSRT were not significantly different among YBH and YBA groups. Conclusion: Both YBH and YBA groups were found to enhance response inhibition in the stop-signal paradigm. YBH could be further evaluated in clinical settings for conditions where response inhibition is altered.

http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2018;volume=11;issue=2;spage=99;epage=104;aulast=Saoji

 

Reduce Blood Pressure and Improve Vigilance with Yogic Alternative Nostril Breathing

Reduce Blood Pressure and Improve Vigilance with Yogic Alternative Nostril Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Alternate Nostril Breathing helps calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and bring a feeling of relaxation to the entire body.” – Art of Living

 

Yoga practice is becoming increasingly popular in the west, for good reason. It has documented benefits for the individual’s psychological and physical health and well-being. It has also been shown to have cognitive benefits, improving memory. Yoga, however, consists of a number of components including, poses, breathing exercises, meditation, concentration, and philosophy/ethics.  So, it is difficult to determine which facet or combination of facets of yoga are responsible for which benefit. Hence, it is important to begin to test each component in isolation to determine its effects.

 

Alternate nostril yoga breathing is a regulated breathing alternating between the left and right nostril. Breathing through each nostril is thought to affect its respective hemisphere in the brain producing differential effects. In today’s Research News article “Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing Reduced Blood Pressure While Increasing Performance in a Vigilance Test.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755948/ ), Telles and colleagues recruited male college students and had them practice either Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing, Breath Awareness, or quiet rest for 18 minutes on three separate days in random order. The participants were measured before and after each practice for blood pressure and vigilance. To measure vigilance, they had the participants perform a digit vigilance test in which they were asked to cancel the numbers 6 and 9 from a page of 1500 random digits and recorded the time to complete the task and the number of errors made.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the control conditions of breath awareness and quiet sitting there was a significant reduction in systolic and arterial blood pressure following alternate nostril breathing. They also found that after alternate nostril breathing there was a significant reduction in the time to complete the vigilance task. But, this was also true for the quiet sitting condition. Hence, alternate nostril breathing appears to reduce the level of activation and improve vigilance. But, the improvement in vigilance may be simply due to the rest provided by the task. This suggests that yoga practice has its beneficial effects, in part, by the ability of the breathing practices to reduce physiological activation.

 

So, reduce blood pressure and improve vigilance with yogic alternative nostril breathing.

 

“Alternate Nostril Breathing: This simple yet most powerful technique is a pranayama that is easy to do, and it creates a deep sense of well-being and harmony on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. It is integrating and grounding, and balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain.” – Yogi Bhajan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Shirley Telles, Sadhana Verma, Sachin Kumar Sharma, Ram Kumar Gupta, Acharya Balkrishna. Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing Reduced Blood Pressure While Increasing Performance in a Vigilance Test. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2017; 23: 392–398. Published online 2017 Dec 29. doi: 10.12659/MSMBR.906502

 

Abstract

Background

Reports suggest that vigilance or sustained attention increases sympathetic activity. A persistent increase in sympathetic activity can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Alternate-nostril yoga breathing has been shown to be useful to (i) improve attention and (ii) decrease the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Earlier studies did not report simultaneous recordings of the blood pressure and performance in vigilance tests after alternate-nostril yoga breathing. With this background, the present study was planned to determine if 15 minutes of alternate nostril yoga breathing could improve the performance in a vigilance test without an increase in blood pressure.

Material/Methods

Fifteen healthy male volunteers participated in the study (group mean age ±SD, 22.4±2.4 years). Participants were assessed on 3 separate days in 3 different sessions. These were (i) alternate nostril yoga breathing, (ii) breath awareness, and (iii) sitting quietly as a control. Blood pressure and the digit vigilance test were simultaneously assessed before and after each session.

Results

Systolic blood pressure (p<0.01), mean arterial blood pressure (p<0.05), and the time taken to complete the digit vigilance test (p<0.05) significantly decreased following alternate-nostril yoga breathing. The time taken to complete the digit vigilance test differed significantly between sessions (p<0.05). The time taken to complete the digit vigilance test was also significantly decreased after sitting quietly (p<0.01).

Conclusions

Alternate-nostril yoga breathing appears to improve performance in the digit vigilance test, along with a reduction in systolic blood pressure. This is suggestive of better vigilance without sympathetic activation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755948/

Reduce Stress and Improve Cardiovascular Function with Slow Yogic Breathing

Reduce Stress and Improve Cardiovascular Function with Slow Yogic Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Shallow breathing over time can contribute to feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety. Becoming aware of your breath through targeted yoga breathing exercises can prevent many of these issues from developing within the body.” – Yoga U

 

Stress is an integral part of life. In fact, I’ve quipped that the definition of death is when stress ceases. People often think of stress as a bad thing. But, it is in fact essential to the health of the body. In fact, we invest time and resources in stressing ourselves, e.g ridding rollercoasters, sky diving, competing in sports, etc. We say we love a challenge, but, challenges are all stressful. So, we actually love to stress ourselves. In moderation, it is healthful and provides interest and fun to life. If stress, is high or is prolonged, however, it can be problematic. It can damage our physical and mental health and even reduce our longevity, leading to premature deaths. So, it is important that we develop methods to either reduce or control high or prolonged stress or reduce our responses to it.

 

Mindfulness practices, including yoga practice, have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Yoga, however, consists of a number of components including, poses, breathing exercises, meditation, concentration, and philosophy/ethics.  So, it is difficult to determine which facet or combination of facets of yoga are responsible for which benefit. Alternate nostril yoga breathing is a regulated breathing alternating between the left and right nostril. Breathing through each nostril is thought to affect its respective hemisphere in the brain producing differential effects.

 

In today’s Research News article “. Effect of Modified Slow Breathing Exercise on Perceived Stress and Basal Cardiovascular Parameters.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769199/ ), Naik and colleagues examine the slow alternate nostril breathing practice of yoga and its effectiveness for stress reduction. They recruited health males, 18-30 years of age, and randomly assigned them to either 30-minutes in the morning, 5-times per week for 12 weeks slow alternate nostril breathing practice or a no-treatment control conditions. The were measured before and after the 12-week practice period for perceived stress, body size, heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that after the 12-weeks of slow alternate nostril breathing practice there were significant reductions in perceived stress, heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Hence, the practice appeared to reduce stress effects and relax the cardiovascular system. These results should provide the encouragement for a larger randomized controlled trial which includes a comparison to other components of yoga practice, e.g. relaxation, postures, meditation, to determine which components are most effective in combating stress. Regardless, the results are encouraging and suggest that slow alternate nostril breathing practice is effective in reducing psychological and physiological responses to stress.

 

So, reduce stress and improve cardiovascular function with slow yogic breathing.

 

“Yoga breathing can help you achieve balance in both your body and mind. In fact, researchers have found that regularly practicing yoga breathing can have the following benefits: reduce anxiety and depression, lower and/or stabilize blood pressure, increase energy levels, relax muscles, and decrease feelings of stress and being overwhelmed.” – Lung Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

  1. Sunil Naik, G.S. Gaur, G.K. Pal. Effect of Modified Slow Breathing Exercise on Perceived Stress and Basal Cardiovascular Parameters. Int J Yoga. 2018 Jan-Apr; 11(1): 53–58. doi: 10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_41_16

 

Abstract

Context:

Different types of breathing exercises have varied effects on cardiovascular parameters and the stress levels in an individual.

Aim:

The aim of this study was to assess the effect of a modified form of isolated alternate nostril, slow breathing exercise on perceived stress, and cardiovascular parameters in young, male volunteers.

Settings and Design:

This was a randomized control study carried out at Advanced Centre for Yoga Therapy Education and Research, Department of Physiology, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry in 2014.

Subjects and Methods:

Hundred healthy male volunteers were randomized into control group, n = 50 and slow breathing group (study), n = 50. Slow breathing exercise training was given to study group for 30 min a day, 5 times/week for 12 weeks, under the supervision of certified yoga trainers. Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) using Cohen’s questionnaire, anthropometric parameters such as body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio (WHR), and cardiovascular parameters such as heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were recorded at baseline and after 12 weeks. The control group did not receive any intervention. Slow breathing exercise training was provided for the study group. During the study period, one volunteer opted out of the study group due to personal reasons.

Results:

HR, SBP, DBP, and PSS decreased significantly (P < 0.05) in the study group following 12 weeks slow breathing exercise training, while no significant change (P > 0.05) was observed in BMI and WHR. There was no significant change in the control group.

Conclusion:

Twelve weeks of modified slow breathing exercise reduced perceived stress and improved the cardiovascular parameters. The above results indicate that our modified slow breathing exercise is effective in reducing stress and improving the cardiovascular parameters.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769199/

Improve Cardiovascular State and Stress with Yogic Breathing

Improve Cardiovascular State and Stress with Yogic Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga breathing can help you achieve balance in both your body and mind. In fact, researchers have found that regularly practicing yoga breathing can have the following benefits: reduce anxiety and depression, lower and/or stabilize blood pressure, increase energy levels, relax muscles, and decrease feelings of stress and being overwhelmed.” – Lung Institute

 

Yoga practice is becoming increasingly popular in the west, for good reason. It has documented benefits for the individual’s psychological and physical health and well-being. It has also been shown to have cognitive benefits, improving memory. Yoga, however, consists of a number of components including, poses, breathing exercises, meditation, concentration, and philosophy/ethics.  So, it is difficult to determine which facet or combination of facets of yoga are responsible for which benefit. Hence, it is important to begin to test each component in isolation to determine its effects. This would allow for optimization of yoga practice for specific problems.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of modified slow breathing exercise on perceived stress and basal cardiovascular parameters.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2018;volume=11;issue=1;spage=53;epage=58;aulast=Naik ), Naik and colleagues examined the effects of yogic breathing techniques on cardiovascular performance. They recruited healthy adult male volunteers (age 18 to 30 years) and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control group or to receive 12 weeks, 5 days per week, 30 minutes per day of yogic slow (6 second inhale and 6 second exhale) alternate nostril breathing. The participants were also encouraged to practice at home daily. They were measured before and after the 12-week training period for body size, perceived stress, resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that after training the yogic breathing group had a significant reduction in resting heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. They also observed a particularly large significant reduction in perceived stress in the yogic breathing group. There were no significant changes in body size observed. Hence, the breath training in yoga appears to have important benefits for cardiovascular function and the stress levels of the practitioners.

 

It can be speculated that the reductions in stress were responsible for the improvements in cardiovascular performance as stress is well known to increase heart rate and blood pressure. In this study, however, causation cannot be determined. The lack of an active control condition is a weakness of the study allowing for bias to be an alternative explanation for the results. In addition, the lack of a follow-up measurement did not allow for a determination of the duration of effectiveness of the technique. Future research should include women, an active control, and long-term follow-up measurements. Regardless, yogic slow alternate nostril breathing would appear to be a promising method to reduce stress and promote cardiovascular health.

 

So, improve cardiovascular state and stress with yogic breathing.

 

“Physiology and psychology are two ends of the same stick. You can’t work on one without the other.” Nowhere is this truer than with conscious breathing, which acts as a medicinal tool, increasing well-being and peace of mind.”Angela Wilson,

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Naik G S, Gaur G S, Pal G K. Effect of modified slow breathing exercise on perceived stress and basal cardiovascular parameters. Int J Yoga 2018;11:53-8

 

Context: Different types of breathing exercises have varied effects on cardiovascular parameters and the stress levels in an individual. Aim:The aim of this study was to assess the effect of a modified form of isolated alternate nostril, slow breathing exercise on perceived stress, and cardiovascular parameters in young, male volunteers. Settings and Design: This was a randomized control study carried out at Advanced Centre for Yoga Therapy Education and Research, Department of Physiology, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry in 2014. Subjects and Methods: Hundred healthy male volunteers were randomized into control group, n = 50 and slow breathing group (study), n = 50. Slow breathing exercise training was given to study group for 30 min a day, 5 times/week for 12 weeks, under the supervision of certified yoga trainers. Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) using Cohen’s questionnaire, anthropometric parameters such as body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio (WHR), and cardiovascular parameters such as heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were recorded at baseline and after 12 weeks. The control group did not receive any intervention. Slow breathing exercise training was provided for the study group. During the study period, one volunteer opted out of the study group due to personal reasons. Results: HR, SBP, DBP, and PSS decreased significantly (P < 0.05) in the study group following 12 weeks slow breathing exercise training, while no significant change (P > 0.05) was observed in BMI and WHR. There was no significant change in the control group. Conclusion: Twelve weeks of modified slow breathing exercise reduced perceived stress and improved the cardiovascular parameters. The above results indicate that our modified slow breathing exercise is effective in reducing stress and improving the cardiovascular parameters.

http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2018;volume=11;issue=1;spage=53;epage=58;aulast=Naik

Improve Calmness with Alternate Nostril Yoga Breathing

Improve Calmness with Alternate Nostril Yoga Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“alternate nostril breathing . . . it’s thought to harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain, resulting in a balanced in physical, mental and emotional well-being. While science has yet to really explore what might be going on in terms of hemispheric functioning during this practice, recent studies have confirmed some pretty powerful effects of this practice.” – Paula Watkins

 

Yoga practice is becoming increasingly popular in the west, for good reason. It has documented benefits for the individual’s psychological and physical health and well-being. It has also been shown to have cognitive benefits, improving memory. Yoga, however, consists of a number of components including, poses, breathing exercises, meditation, concentration, and philosophy/ethics.  So, it is difficult to determine which facet or combination of facets of yoga are responsible for which benefit. Hence, it is important to begin to test each component in isolation to determine its effects.

 

Alternate nostril yoga breathing is a regulated breathing alternating between the left and right nostril. Breathing through each nostril is thought to affect its respective hemisphere in the brain producing differential effects. In today’s Research News article “Hemisphere specific EEG related to alternate nostril yoga breathing.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5525313/ ), Telles and colleagues examine the effects of alternate nostril yoga breathing on brain activity and the emotional state of the practitioner. They recruited healthy adult practitioners of alternate nostril yoga breathing. They were randomly assigned on different days to either practice alternate nostril yoga breathing, breath awareness, or quiet sitting for 18 minutes. Before, during, and after each practice the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded from the scalp of the practitioners.

 

They found that during alternate nostril yoga breathing there was significantly decreased activity in the frontal lobes of the brain in both the Beta frequency band (13-30 cycles per second) of the EEG and the Theta frequency band (4-7.5 cycles per second). On the other hand, during quiet sitting there was increased Beta activity and decreased Alpha band (8-12 cycles per second) activity.

 

Theta activity in the EEG of the frontal lobe is associated with positive emotional states and memory activity. Beta activity is associated with increased alertness, excitement, and arousal. Alpha activity is associated with complex cognitive (thought) processes. Hence, during alternate nostril yoga breathing the EEG activity suggests that the practitioner goes into a state of relaxation (reduced arousal) while during quiet sitting the practitioner goes into a state of arousal with decreased thinking.

 

This study demonstrates that the different components of yoga practice may have strikingly different effects on the nervous system and the state of the practitioner. The results are interesting and verify that alternate nostril yoga breathing produces different changes in brain activity than breath awareness or quiet sitting. The results suggest that alternate nostril yoga breathing produces a relaxed, calm state. This further suggests that this technique might be useful for treating anxiety disorders. Indeed, there is evidence that alternate nostril yoga breathing calms the anxious individual.

 

So, improve calmness with alternate nostril yoga breathing.

 

““alternate nostril breathing,” is a simple yet powerful technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions. You can use it to quiet your mind before beginning a meditation practice, and it is particularly helpful to ease racing thoughts if you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep.” – Melissa Eisler

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Telles, S., Gupta, R. K., Yadav, A., Pathak, S., & Balkrishna, A. (2017). Hemisphere specific EEG related to alternate nostril yoga breathing. BMC Research Notes, 10, 306. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-017-2625-6

 

Abstract

Background

Previously, forced unilateral nostril breathing was associated with ipsilateral, or contralateral cerebral hemisphere changes, or no change. Hence it was inconclusive. The present study was conducted on 13 normal healthy participants to determine the effects of alternate nostril yoga breathing on (a) cerebral hemisphere asymmetry, and (b) changes in the standard EEG bands.

Methods

Participants were randomly allocated to three sessions (a) alternate nostril yoga breathing (ANYB), (b) breath awareness and (c) quiet sitting, on separate days. EEG was recorded from bilaterally symmetrical sites (FP1, FP2, C3, C4, O1 and O2). All sites were referenced to the ipsilateral ear lobe.

Results

There was no change in cerebral hemisphere symmetry. The relative power in the theta band was decreased during alternate nostril yoga breathing (ANYB) and the beta amplitude was lower after ANYB. During quiet sitting the relative power in the beta band increased, while the amplitude of the alpha band reduced.

Conclusion

The results suggest that ANYB was associated with greater calmness, whereas quiet sitting without specific directions was associated with arousal. The results imply a possible use of ANYB for stress and anxiety reduction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5525313/