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/