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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:743504. doi: 10.1155/2013/743504. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Cardiovascular and respiratory effect of yogic slow breathing in the yoga beginner: what is the best approach?

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1
Department of Neuroscience, Roehampton University, London, UK.

Abstract

Slow breathing increases cardiac-vagal baroreflex sensitivity (BRS), improves oxygen saturation, lowers blood pressure, and reduces anxiety. Within the yoga tradition slow breathing is often paired with a contraction of the glottis muscles. This resistance breath "ujjayi" is performed at various rates and ratios of inspiration/expiration. To test whether ujjayi had additional positive effects to slow breathing, we compared BRS and ventilatory control under different breathing patterns (equal/unequal inspiration/expiration at 6 breath/min, with/without ujjayi), in 17 yoga-naive young healthy participants. BRS increased with slow breathing techniques with or without expiratory ujjayi (P < 0.05 or higher) except with inspiratory + expiratory ujjayi. The maximal increase in BRS and decrease in blood pressure were found in slow breathing with equal inspiration and expiration. This corresponded with a significant improvement in oxygen saturation without increase in heart rate and ventilation. Ujjayi showed similar increase in oxygen saturation but slightly lesser improvement in baroreflex sensitivity with no change in blood pressure. The slow breathing with equal inspiration and expiration seems the best technique for improving baroreflex sensitivity in yoga-naive subjects. The effects of ujjayi seems dependent on increased intrathoracic pressure that requires greater effort than normal slow breathing.

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