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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 743504, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/743504
Research Article

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Effect of Yogic Slow Breathing in the Yoga Beginner: What Is the Best Approach?

1Department of Neuroscience, Roehampton University, London, UK
2Department of Public Health and Neuroscience, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
3Department of Internal Medicine, University of Pavia and IRCCS San Matteo, Pavia, Italy
4Department of Psychology, The Open University, London, UK

Received 18 December 2012; Accepted 22 March 2013

Academic Editor: Elisa Harumi Kozasa

Copyright © 2013 Heather Mason et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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 ( 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.