Meditation and Yogic Breathing Techniques Improve Respiration and Psychological Well-Being

Meditation and Yogic Breathing Techniques Improve Respiration and Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques all depend on focusing on the breath. There are many benefits of meditation and proper breathing is an important part of learning how to calm the mind and body.” – Home Care Assistance

 

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 and meditation practices and have been found to have a number of beneficial effects.

 

Modern medicine has also developed respiratory therapies for the treatment of patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. Many of these techniques are similar to those practiced in meditation and yoga. In today’s Research News article “Analogy between classical Yoga/Zen breathing and modern clinical respiratory therapy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429199/) Tobe and Saito examine the similarities of meditation and yoga breathing exercises and respiratory therapies and their relative effects.

 

Respiratory therapy has been shown to be essential in the treatment of respiratory diseases. But, breathing techniques are not new. They’ve been practiced for over 3000 years. Yoga incorporates a number of different techniques. Even the Buddha emphasized breathing techniques during meditation and these were greatly elaborated on in Zen meditation. There are considerable similarities with respiratory therapy and meditation and yogic breathing techniques. They all emphasize deep inhalation, slow exhalation with some resistance, low respiratory frequency, and even counting of breaths.

 

Tobe and Saito note that research has shown that meditation and yogic breathing techniques, like respiratory therapy, have considerable positive effects on respiration including improved “vital capacity, timed vital capacity, maximum voluntary ventilation, breath-hold time, maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressures and oxygen saturation.” They also increase the psychological well-being of practitioners including reducing panic attacks, depression, and headaches, relieving pain, and improving sleep.

 

Tobe and Saito conclude that meditation and yogic breathing techniques are effective in modern clinical practice improving respiratory function and psychological well-being, and relieving chronic pain. Indeed, research on meditation and yogic breathing techniques suggest that they improve physiological and respiratory function and are effective for the treatment of a number of diseases and psychological problems.

 

So, meditation and yogic breathing techniques improve respiration and psychological well-being.

 

By inducing stress resilience, breath work enables us to rapidly and compassionately relieve many forms of suffering.” – Richard Brown

 

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

 

Tobe, M., & Saito, S. (2020). Analogy between classical Yoga/Zen breathing and modern clinical respiratory therapy. Journal of anesthesia, 1–6. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00540-020-02840-5

 

Abstract

Anesthesiologists and intensivists are modern-day professionals who provide appropriate respiratory care, vital for patient survival. Recently, anesthesiologists have increasingly focused their attention on the type of spontaneous breathing made by non-intubated patients with pulmonary disease cared for in an intensive care unit, and also patients with chronic pain receiving cognitive behavioral therapy. Prior to our modern understanding of respiratory physiology, Zen meditators recognized that breathing has a significant impact on a person’s mental state and general physical well-being. Examples of this knowledge regarding respiration include the beneficial effects of deep inhalation and slow exhalation on anxiety and general wellness. The classical literature has noted many suggestions for breathing and its psycho-physical effects. In the present review, we examine the effect of classical breathing methods and find an analogy between typical Yoga/Zen breathing and modern clinical respiratory therapy. Evidence is increasing about historical breathing and related meditation techniques that may be effective in modern clinical practice, especially in the field of anesthesiology, such as in improving respiratory function and reducing chronic pain. Clarification of the detailed mechanisms involved is anticipated.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429199/

 

Activate the Brain and Synchronize the Cerebral Hemispheres with Kriya Yoga

Activate the Brain and Synchronize the Cerebral Hemispheres with Kriya Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Kriya yoga in Sanskrit means “to move.” The yoga combines all the energy in the body of the mind and to increase the concentration and the awareness in the body. It helps in energizing all the parts of your body. The internal organs inside your body thyroid, spleen, liver, and pancreas, are energized which improve your overall health.” – Larissa Smith

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. There are a wide variety of different mindfulness training techniques. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is an ancient technique that involves cyclical breathing patterns that range from slow and calming to rapid and stimulating. How exactly SKY produces its benefits is unknown.

 

One way to observe the effects of mindfulness practices is to measure changes in the electroencephalogram (EEG), the rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. The recorded activity can be separated into frequency bands. Delta activity consists of oscillations in the 0.5-3 cycles per second band. Theta activity in the EEG consists of oscillations in the 4-8 cycles per second band. Alpha activity consists of oscillations in the 8-12 cycles per second band. Beta activity consists of oscillations in the 13-30 cycles per second band while Gamma activity occurs in the 30-100 cycles per second band.

 

In today’s Research News article “High-Frequency Cerebral Activation and Interhemispheric Synchronization Following Sudarshan Kriya Yoga as Global Brain Rhythms: The State Effects.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7336945/) Bhaskar and colleagues recruited adult Sudarshan Kriya Yoga practitioners. They recorded the electroencephalogram (EEG) for 5 minutes before and after a 1-hour Sudarshan Kriya Yoga practice.

 

They found that after Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) practice there was a significant increase in the spectral power of all EEG frequency bands. They also found that after SKY there was a significant increase in the synchronization of the electrical activity in the rwo cerebral hemispheres. These results indicate that a single session of SKY increases overall brain activity and interhemispheric synchronization.

 

These findings suggest that Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) practice heightens neural activity in a synchronized fashion. This suggests that SKY practice improves physiological balance, alertness, and mental well-being. It remains for future research to determine whether these changes in brain activity occur in SKY naive participants and whether these changes are lasting or only occurring in the immediate aftermath of SKY practice.

 

So, activate the brain and synchronize the cerebral hemispheres with Kriya Yoga.

 

Kriya Yoga is universal in its benefits: it doesn’t depend on anything outside itself.” — Paramhansa Yogananda

 

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

 

Bhaskar, L., Tripathi, V., Kharya, C., Kotabagi, V., Bhatia, M., & Kochupillai, V. (2020). High-Frequency Cerebral Activation and Interhemispheric Synchronization Following Sudarshan Kriya Yoga as Global Brain Rhythms: The State Effects. International journal of yoga, 13(2), 130–136. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_25_19

 

Abstract

Context:

Respiration is known to modulate neuronal oscillations in the brain and is measured by electroencephalogram (EEG). Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is a popular breathing process and is established for its significant effects on the various aspects of physiology and psychology.

Aims:

This study aimed to observe neuronal oscillations in multifrequency bands and interhemispheric synchronization following SKY.

Settings and Design:

This study employed before- and after-study design.

Subjects and Methods:

Forty healthy volunteers (average age 25.45 ± 5.75, 23 males and 17 females) participated in the study. Nineteen-channel EEG was recorded and analyzed for 5 min each: before and after SKY. Spectral power for delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma frequency band was calculated using Multi-taper Fast Fourier Transform (Chronux toolbox). The Asymmetry Index was calculated by subtracting the natural log of powers of left (L) hemisphere from the right® to show interhemispheric synchronization.

Statistical Analysis:

Paired t-test was used for statistical analysis.

Results:

Spectral power increased significantly in all frequency bands bilaterally in frontal, central, parietal, temporal, and occipital regions of the brain after long SKY. Electrical activity shifted from lower to higher frequency range with a significant rise in the gamma and beta powers following SKY. Asymmetry Index values tended toward 0 following SKY.

Conclusions:

A single session of SKY generates global brain rhythm dominantly with high-frequency cerebral activation and initiates appropriate interhemispheric synchronization in brain rhythms as state effects. This suggests that SKY leads to better attention, memory, and emotional and autonomic control along with enhanced cognitive functions, which finally improves physical and mental well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7336945/

 

Normalize Heart Rate Processes with Yoga Practice

Normalize Heart Rate Processes with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Heart Rate Variability is the ability of the heart rate to change from beat to beat., which is based off the activity of the nervous system. HRV is a more accurate measure of a person’s health than examining only the heart rate.” – Zelinda Yañez

 

In our lives we are confronted with a variety of situations and environments. In order to successfully navigate these differing situations, we must be able to adapt and self-regulate. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is designed to adapt physiologically to the varying demands on us. It is composed of 2 divisions; the sympathetic division underlies activation, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation, including decreases in heart rate and blood pressure. A measure of the balance between these systems is provided by the variability of the heart rate.

 

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the change in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats. Higher levels of HRV are indicative of flexibility in the Autonomic Nervous System and are associated with adaptability to varying environments. Mindfulness has been associated with psychological flexibility and a greater ability to adapt appropriately to differing situations. Indeed, mindfulness practice improves Heart Rate Variability (HRV). It makes sense to determine if yoga practice can also improve heart rate variability.

 

In today’s Research News article “Changes in Heart Rate Variability after Yoga are Dependent on Heart Rate Variability at Baseline and during Yoga: A Study Showing Autonomic Normalization Effect in Yoga-Naïve and Experienced Subjects.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7336948/) Shinba and colleagues recruited adults who were either experienced yoga practitioners or yoga naïve. The engaged in 20 minutes of seated breath awareness and yogic breathing exercises. Their electrocardiogram heart rates were recorded before, during, and after the practice.

 

They found that the low frequency component of heart rate variability and the ratio of the low frequency to the high frequency component were normalized after yoga practice such that when the baseline levels were low the components increased as a result of yoga practice and when the baseline levels were high the components decreased. No significant changes in the high frequency component was observed.

 

The results do not replicate previous findings that yoga practice increases the high frequency component of heart rate variability reflecting an increase in parasympathetic activity which is associated with physiological relaxation. This lack of replication may be due to the brevity of the practice or to the nature of the practice where only breath awareness and breathing exercises were included. It is possible that more active components such as postures are needed to produce increases in parasympathetic activity.

 

The low frequency component of heart rate variability reflects the regulation of the heart rate based upon blood pressure. This reflects the maintenance of an adequate blood flow at all times. Hence, the present brief breath-oriented yoga practice appears to regularize blood flows. This, in turn, may reflect an increased ability of the physiology to deal with stresses.

 

So, normalize heart rate processes with yoga practice.

 

“HRV is an interesting and noninvasive way to identify these ANS imbalances. If a person’s system is in more of a fight-or-flight mode, the variation between subsequent heartbeats is low. If one is in a more relaxed state, the variation between beats is high. In other words, the healthier the ANS the faster you are able to switch gears, showing more resilience and flexibility.” – Marcelo Campos

 

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

 

Shinba, T., Inoue, T., Matsui, T., Kimura, K. K., Itokawa, M., & Arai, M. (2020). Changes in Heart Rate Variability after Yoga are Dependent on Heart Rate Variability at Baseline and during Yoga: A Study Showing Autonomic Normalization Effect in Yoga-Naïve and Experienced Subjects. International journal of yoga, 13(2), 160–167. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_39_19

 

Abstract

Background:

Yoga therapy is widely applied to the maintenance of health and to treatment of various illnesses. Previous researches indicate the involvement of autonomic control in its effects, although the general agreement has not been reached regarding the acute modulation of autonomic function.

Aim:

The present study aimed at revealing the acute effect of yoga on the autonomic activity using heart rate variability (HRV) measurement.

Methods:

Twenty-seven healthy controls participated in the present study. Fifteen of them (39.5 ± 8.5 years old) were naïve and 12 (45.1 ± 7.0 years old) were experienced in yoga. Yoga skills included breath awareness, two types of asana, and two types of pranayama. HRV was measured at the baseline, during yoga, and at the resting state after yoga.

Results:

In both yoga-naïve and experienced participants, the changes in low-frequency (LF) component of HRV and its ratio to high-frequency (HF) component (LF/HF) after yoga were found to be correlated negatively with the baseline data. The changes in LF after yoga were also correlated with LF during yoga. The changes in HF as well as the raw HRV data after yoga were not related to the baseline HRV or the HRV during yoga.

Conclusion:

The results indicate that yoga leads to an increase in LF when LF is low and leads to a decrease in LF when it is high at the baseline. This normalization of LF is dependent on the autonomic modulation during yoga and may underlie the clinical effectiveness of yoga therapy both in yoga-naïve and experienced subjects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7336948/

 

Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Yogic Breathing

Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Yogic Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The Bhramari pranayama breathing practice . . . .. is beneficial and instantly calming down the mind. It is one of the best breathing exercises to free the mind of distress, anxiety, or frustration and get rid of anger to a great level.” – Alpesh Jain

 

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. Bhramari pranayama (Bee breathing) is a yogic breathing practice that adopts simple regulation of voluntary breathing involving an exhalation that simulates the typical humming sound of a bee.

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. It is not known whether training in Bhramari pranayama can be beneficial for adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of yoga breathing practice on heart rate variability in healthy adolescents: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6997567/), Kuppusamy and colleagues recruited healthy adolescents, 13-18 years of age, and randomly assigned them to either Bhramari pranayama (Bee breathing) or no treatment. Yogic breathing was practiced in the morning for 30 minutes, 5 days per week for 6 months. The participants electrocardiogram (ECG) was measured at rest before and after training.

 

With the ECG they found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control participants, the adolescents who practiced yogic breathing had significantly lower heart rates and significantly higher time and frequency domains of heart rate variability. Increased heart rate variability indicates greater activity of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system that is active during relaxation. Hence, the findings suggest that practicing yogic breathing improves autonomic function.

 

Increased heart rate variability is associated with lower stress and greater health and longevity and psychological well-being. Hence, increased heart rate variability in the adolescents who practiced Bhramari pranayama (Bee breathing) is an indicator of improved autonomic function that underlies greater health and well-being. This suggests that practicing yogic breathing would improve the youth’s ability to develop healthily during the turbulent times of the teen years.

 

So, improve autonomic nervous system function with yogic breathing.

 

The noise of bhramari’s buzzing can drown out the endless mental tape loops that can fuel emotional suffering, making it a useful starting point for those whose minds are too “busy” to meditate.” – Timothy McCall

 

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

 

Kuppusamy, M., Kamaldeen, D., Pitani, R., Amaldas, J., Ramasamy, P., Shanmugam, P., & Vijayakumar, V. (2020). Effects of yoga breathing practice on heart rate variability in healthy adolescents: a randomized controlled trial. Integrative medicine research, 9(1), 28–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.imr.2020.01.006

 

Abstract

Background

This study was conducted among healthy adolescents to assess the effects of a yoga breathing practice (Bhramari pranayama, Bhr.P) towards cardiac autonomic function using heart rate variability (HRV) parameters.

Methods

Of the 730 eligible subjects screened, 520 healthy adolescents who met the inclusion and exclusion criteria were randomly assigned to either yoga breathing group (n = 260) or control group (n = 260). The yoga breathing group practiced Bhr.P. five days a week for a duration of six months while the control group continued with their daily routine without any intervention. Outcome measures were time and frequency domain of HRV in both groups which were assessed before and after the intervention using Lead II ECG. Linear models were used in the analysis of short term HRV.

Results

After 6 months of yoga breathing, the time domain parameters of short term HRV showed significant (P < 0.05) improvement towards the parasympathetic domain. Frequency domain parameters also showed the same direction of changes. In contrast, control group subjects showed a trend towards a sympathetic domain.

Conclusion

The present study showed a positive shift in cardiac autonomic modulation towards parasympathetic predominance after 6 months of yoga breathing practice among apparently healthy adolescents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6997567/

 

Improve Memory with Brief Breath Awareness Practice

Improve Memory with Brief Breath Awareness Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Our in-breath is like a remote control for our brains, directly affecting electrical signals that communicate with memory and emotional processing centers.” – Crystal Goh

 

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. There are a number of breathing exercises and there is a need to identify the psychological effects of each.

 

In today’s Research News article “Performance in a Corsi Block-tapping Task following High-frequency Yoga Breathing or Breath Awareness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746049/), Gupta and colleagues recruited young (aged 18-24 years) volunteers who had at least 3 months of experience with yogic breathing techniques. They were randomly assigned to different orders of 3 conditions; high frequency yogic breathing, breath awareness, or quiet sitting. The conditions occurred in 5-minute blocks separated by 1-minute rest.

 

Memory was measured with a Corsi Blocks task in which nine blue squares are presented and then each square changes to yellow in a random sequence. The participants task is to reproduce the sequence in either forward or backward order. The number of blocks changing color began at 2 and increased to 9. The task was terminated when the participant failed twice to reproduce the order of a particular size.

 

They found that neither the high frequency yogic breathing nor the quiet sitting produced a significant change in performance on the Corsi Blocks task. On the other hand, after the breath awareness condition there was a significant improvement in the backward order scores.

 

The study involves only an extremely brief task. It cannot be concluded that breath awareness would have any lasting effect or that training in breath awareness over time would produce lasting memory improvement. Nevertheless, these results suggest that a brief breath awareness practice improves memory ability immediately afterward.

 

So, improve memory with brief breath awareness practice.

 

 

“Don’t try to control your breath. Simply watch it. Fast or slow, shallow or deep, the nature of the breath does not matter. Your full attention to it is what counts.” – Ram Dass

 

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

 

Gupta, R. K., Agnihotri, S., Telles, S., & Balkrishna, A. (2019). Performance in a Corsi Block-tapping Task following High-frequency Yoga Breathing or Breath Awareness. International journal of yoga, 12(3), 247–251. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_55_18

 

Abstract

Background:

Uninostril yoga breathing practices have improved spatial memory scores. There has been no assessment on the effect of high-frequency yoga breathing (HFYB) on working memory and spatial memory scores using the Corsi block-tapping task (CBTT).

Objectives:

The present study was planned to assess the immediate effects of HFYB and breath awareness (BAW) compared to a control session on performance in a CBTT.

Methods:

Fifteen participants of both sexes with ages between 18 and 24 years (group mean age ± standard deviation, 20.0 ± 1.6 years; 10 females) were recruited for the trial from a university in North India. Each participant was assessed in three sessions conducted on 3 separate days at the same time of the day. The three sessions were (i) HFYB, (ii) BAW, and (iii) quiet sitting (QS). The duration of the intervention was 18 min. The participants were assessed before and after all the three sessions. Repeated-measures-analyses of variance followed by post hoc tests with Bonferroni adjustment were performed to compare data before and after all the three sessions.

Results:

BAW resulted in an improvement in backward total scores (P < 0.05) and the backward Corsi span (P < 0.05; one tailed).

Conclusions:

The results suggest that BAW improves primary working memory, spatial memory, and spatial attention. HFYB did not cause any change.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746049/

 

Meditation Comes in Seven Different Varieties

Meditation Comes in Seven Different Varieties

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Experienced meditators agree: a daily meditation practice can have significant benefits for mental and physical health. But one thing they probably won’t agree on? The most effective types of meditation. That’s simply because it’s different for everyone. After all, there are literally hundreds of meditation techniques encompassing practices from different traditions, cultures, spiritual disciplines, and religions.” Headspace

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for improving different conditions.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object. Transcendental meditation is a silent mantra-based focused meditation in which a word or phrase is repeated over and over again. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

But there are a number of techniques that do not fall into these categories and even within these categories there are a number of large variations. In today’s Research News article “What Is Meditation? Proposing an Empirically Derived Classification System.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6803504/), Matko and colleagues attempt to develop a more comprehensive system of classification. They found 309 different techniques but reduced them down to the 20 most popular ones. They recruited 100 meditators with at least 2 years of experience and asked them to rate how similar each technique was to every other technique.

 

They applied multidimensional scaling to the data which uncovered two dimensions that adequately described all of the 20 techniques. The analysis revealed a dimension of the amount of activation involved and a dimension of the amount of body orientation involved. All 20 techniques were classified within these two dimensions. Visual inspection of where the various techniques fell on the two dimensions produces 7 different clusters labelled as “(1) Body-centered meditation, (2) mindful observation, (3) contemplation, (4) mantra meditation, (5) visual concentration, (6) affect-centered meditation, and (7) meditation with movement.”

 

Within the high activation and low body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “Mantra Meditation” including singing sutras/mantras/invocations, repeating syllables and meditation with sounds. Within the low activation and low body orientation quadrant there were three clusters identified, labelled “affect-centered meditation” including cultivating compassion and opening up to blessings; “visual orientations” including visualizations and concentrating on an object; and “contemplation” including contemplating on a question and contradictions or paradoxes.

 

Within the high activation and high body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “meditation with movement” including “meditation with movement, manipulating the breath, and walking and observing senses. Within the low activation and high body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “mindful observation” including observing thoughts, lying meditation, and sitting in silence. Finally, they identified a cluster with high body but straddling the activation dimension, labelled “body centered meditation” including concentrating on a energy centers or channeling, body scan, abdominal breath, nostril breath, and observing the body.

 

This 7-category classification system is interesting and based upon the ratings of experienced meditators. So, there is reason to believe that there is a degree of validity. In addition, the system is able to encompass 20 different popular meditation techniques. It remains for future research to investigate whether this classification system is useful in better understanding the effects of meditation or the underlying brain systems.

 

Not all meditation styles are right for everyone. These practices require different skills and mindsets. How do you know which practice is right for you? “It’s what feels comfortable and what you feel encouraged to practice,” – Mira Dessy

 

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

 

Matko, K., & Sedlmeier, P. (2019). What Is Meditation? Proposing an Empirically Derived Classification System. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2276. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02276

 

Abstract

Meditation is an umbrella term, which subsumes a huge number of diverse practices. It is still unclear how these practices can be classified in a reasonable way. Earlier proposals have struggled to do justice to the diversity of meditation techniques. To help in solving this issue, we used a novel bottom-up procedure to develop a comprehensive classification system for meditation techniques. In previous studies, we reduced 309 initially identified techniques to the 20 most popular ones. In the present study, 100 experienced meditators were asked to rate the similarity of the selected 20 techniques. Using multidimensional scaling, we found two orthogonal dimensions along which meditation techniques could be classified: activation and amount of body orientation. These dimensions emphasize the role of embodied cognition in meditation. Within these two dimensions, seven main clusters emerged: mindful observation, body-centered meditation, visual concentration, contemplation, affect-centered meditation, mantra meditation, and meditation with movement. We conclude there is no “meditation” as such, but there are rather different groups of techniques that might exert diverse effects. These groups call into question the common division into “focused attention” and “open-monitoring” practices. We propose a new embodied classification system and encourage researchers to evaluate this classification system through comparative studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6803504/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Improve Attention in Pre-Teens with Yogic Breathing

Reduce Anxiety and Improve Attention in Pre-Teens with Yogic Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Pranayama is an incredibly effective, important tool to teach children so they can control their energy, their mood, and their impulses.” – Amanda James

 

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.

 

The Pre-teen years are transitional between childhood and adolescence. What happens here and what is learned can have a huge impact on the child’s ability to navigate the difficult years of adolescence. It is not known whether training in yogic breathing techniques can be beneficial for pre-teens.

 

In today’s Research News article “Immediate Effect of a Yoga Breathing Practice on Attention and Anxiety in Pre-Teen Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678429/), Telles and colleagues recruited healthy pre-teen children (11-12 years of age) who practiced yoga and yogic breathing exercises and randomly assigned them to one of 3 orders of 3 interventions; high frequency yogic breathing, breath awareness, and quiet sitting practiced on successive days. The breathing exercises were practiced at school for 3 3.5-minute periods followed by 1-minute rest. They were measured before and after each session for anxiety and selective attention.

 

They found that there was a significant decrease in anxiety after all 3 interventions. After high frequency yogic breathing there was a significant increase in selective attention, while after breath awareness there was a significant increase in selective attention errors.

 

The reduction in anxiety cannot be definitively ascribed to the yogic exercises as quiet sitting also reduces anxiety. Anxiety reduction may also be due to relief for having finished the task as there was a reduction regardless of task. High frequency yogic breathing is known to produce physiological activation, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This activation may be responsible for the improved selective attention. On the other hand, breath awareness practice tends to produce relaxation. It is possible that this relaxation reduces vigilance and increases errors in selective attention.

 

There is a need for more research on yogic breathing and its effects on anxiety levels to ascertain if the reduction in anxiety are due to contaminants such as placebo effects or relaxation after task completion. It is important to reduce anxiety in pre-teens as this is a difficult time and high levels of anxiety can interfere with the child’s ability to cope with the challenges. Also, improved selective attention with high frequency yogic breathing may help the pre-teens in their academic endeavors.

 

So, reduce anxiety and improve attention in pre-teens with yogic breathing.

 

kids love working with the breath!! There is so much fun to be had with breathing exercises. They find inner strength and peace, it uplifts them, calms them, and teaches them how to focus in nerve-wracking or anxiety-inducing situations. – Joanne Moules

 

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., Gandharva, K., Vishwakarma, B., Kala, N., & Balkrishna, A. (2019). Immediate Effect of a Yoga Breathing Practice on Attention and Anxiety in Pre-Teen Children. Children (Basel, Switzerland), 6(7), 84. doi:10.3390/children6070084

 

Abstract

Pre-teen children face stressors related to their transition from childhood to adolescence, with a simultaneous increase in academic pressure. The present study compared the immediate effects of 18 min of (i) high frequency yoga breathing with (ii) yoga-based breath awareness and (iii) sitting quietly, on (a) attention and (b) anxiety, in 61 pre-teen children (aged between 11 and 12 years; 25 girls). Attention was assessed using a six letter cancellation task and Spielberger’s State Trait Anxiety Inventory STAI-S was used to measure anxiety before and after the three practices, practiced on separate days. Repeated measures ANOVA, followed by Bonferroni adjusted post-hoc analyses showed an increase in total attempts and net scores after high frequency yoga breathing (p < 0.05), while wrong attempts increased after yoga based breath awareness (p < 0.05). Anxiety decreased comparably after all three interventions. The 25 girls in the group had the same trend of results as the whole group with respect to the attention-based cancellation task, while boys showed no, how since change. For both girls and boys, anxiety decreased after all three 18min interventions. The results suggest that high frequency yoga breathing could be a short, useful school based practice to improve attention and reduce anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678429/

 

Improve Sensory Discrimination with Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing

Improve Sensory Discrimination with Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

alternate nostril breathing, has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga, where it’s thought to harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain, resulting in a balanced in physical, mental and emotional well-being.” – 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 that is commonly practiced in yoga. Breathing through each nostril is thought to affect its respective hemisphere in the brain producing differential effects. Recently, it has been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase vigilance and reduce perceived stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Changes in Shape and Size Discrimination and State Anxiety After Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing and Breath Awareness in One Session Each.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6496972/), Telles and colleagues recruited healthy adult males with at least 3 months of yogic breathing practice. They each completed 3 sessions, alternate nostril breathing, breath awareness, and quiet sitting in counterbalanced orders. Each session consisted of three 5-minute practice periods separated by one minute. Before and after each session the participants competed measures of state and trait anxiety and completed a shape and size discrimination task involving inserting “50 coins and squares of different sizes and thickness into 5 slits of a wooden box, where each slit has been especially designed to allow a square or coin of a specific size and thickness to pass through it.”

 

They found that after the alternate nostril breathing session but not breath awareness or quiet sitting sessions there were significantly fewer error on the shape and size discrimination task. On the other hand, after the breath awareness or quiet sitting sessions but not the alternate nostril breathing session there were significantly lower levels of anxiety.

 

It would appear that alternate nostril breathing heightens awareness, increasing vigilance allowing for enhanced sensory discrimination ability while breath awareness and quiet sitting are calming reducing negative emotions. It’s interesting that different approaches to the breath have such large differences in their effects. This suggests that further research into the effects of the individual components of yoga practice may be a fruitful approach to understanding and potentially enhancing the benefits of yoga practice.

 

So, improve sensory discrimination with alternate-nostril yoga breathing.

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing effectively reduces cortisol (stress) levels, increases mental focus, enhances immunity, and decreases depression and anxiety, with quick and lasting effects.” – Art of Living

 

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., Vishwakarma, B., Gupta, R. K., & Balkrishna, A. (2019). Changes in Shape and Size Discrimination and State Anxiety After Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing and Breath Awareness in One Session Each. Medical science monitor basic research, 25, 121–127. doi:10.12659/MSMBR.914956

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga breathing techniques like high-frequency yoga breathing (HFYB) and breath awareness (BAW) have been associated with improved performance in the shape and size discrimination task. A PubMed search of the literature revealed that alternate-nostril breathing has been shown to improve performance in attention tasks, but the effect on tactile perception has not been studied. Hence, the present study was designed to assess the immediate effects of alternate-nostril yoga breathing (ANYB) compared to breath awareness on shape and size discrimination and state anxiety.

Material/Methods

Fifty healthy male volunteers ages 20–50 years (group mean ±S.D., 28.4±8.2 years) were recruited. Each participant was assessed in 3 sessions conducted on 3 separate days at the same time of day. The 3 sessions were (i) alternate-nostril yoga breathing (ANYB), (ii) breath awareness (BAW), and (iii) quiet sitting (QS), and the sequence of the sessions was randomly allocated. The shape and size discrimination task and state anxiety were assessed before and after all 3 sessions. Repeated measures analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA) followed by post hoc tests for multiple comparisons, which were Bonferroni-adjusted, were performed to compare data before and after all 3 sessions using SPSS version 18.0.

Results

The errors scores in the shape and size discrimination task showed a significant reduction after the ANYB session (p<0.001). A significant reduction was found in the level of state anxiety after breath awareness (p<0.05) and quiet sitting sessions (p<0.001).

Conclusions

The present results suggest that ANYB: (i) improves performance in a task which requires perceptual sensitivity and focused attention, but (ii) does not reduce state anxiety following this task.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6496972/

 

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/