Breathing through a particular nostril can alter metabolism and autonomic activities

The Indian Journal Physiology Pharmacology.

 1994 Apr;38(2):133-7

Telles S, Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR.

Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Chamarajpet, Bangalore.

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There is increasing interest in the fact that breathing exclusively through one nostril may alter the autonomic functions. The present study aimed at checking whether such changes actually do occur, and whether breathing is consciously regulated. 48 male subjects, with ages ranging from 25 to 48 years were randomly assigned to different groups. Each group was asked to practice one out of three pranayamas (viz. right nostril breathing, left nostril breathing or alternate nostril breathing). These practices were carried out as 27 respiratory cycles, repeated 4 times a day for one month. Parameters were assessed at the beginning and end of the month, but not during the practice. The ‘right nostril pranayama’ group showed a significant increase, of 37% in baseline oxygen consumption. The ‘alternate nostril’ pranayama group showed an 18% increase, and the left nostril pranayama group also showed an increase, of 24%. This increase in metabolism could be due to increased sympathetic discharge to the adrenal medulla. The ‘left nostril Pranayama’ group showed an increase in volar galvanic skin resistance, interpreted as a reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity supplying the sweat glands. These results suggest that breathing selectively through either nostril could have a marked activating effect or a relaxing effect on the sympathetic nervous system. The therapeutic implications of being able to alter metabolism by changing the breathing pattern have been mentioned.

Improvement in oxidative status with yogic breathing in young healthy males

The Indian Journal Physiology and Pharmacology.

2002 Jul;46(3):349-54.

 Bhattacharya S, Pandey US, Verma NS.

Department of Physiology, King George’s Medical College, Lucknow, 226 003.

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The modern living lifestyle is known to produce various physical and psychological stresses and subject the individual to produce oxidative stresses as well. The aim of this study has been to assess the effect of yogic breathing exercises (pranayama) on the oxidatives stress. The study group consisted of 30 young male volunteers, trained for the purpose of this study and an equal number of controls were used. The free radicals and Super oxide dismutase levels were measured before the study and at the end of the study. The free radicals were decreased significantly in the study group but the SOD was increased insignificantly as compared to the control group. Yogic breathing exercises not only help in relieving the stresses of life but also improve the antioxidant status of the individual. An improvement in the antioxidant status is helpful in preventing many pathological processes that are known with impaired antioxidant system of body.

 
 

 

 

The effects of unilateral forced nostril breathing on the heart

The International Journal of Neurosciences.

1993 Nov;73(1-2):47-60.

Shannahoff-Khalsa DS, Kennedy B.

Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego 92103-8341.

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Three experiments are described that employ impedance cardiography to monitor the effects of unilateral forced nostril breathing (UFNB) on the heart. Experiment 1 includes 7 subjects (4 males, 3 females) with a respiratory rate of 6 breaths/min (BPM). Experiment 2 includes 16 trials using one subject to examine the intraindividual variability, at 6 BPM. Experiment 3 includes 10 trials with the same subject in experiment 2, but with a respiratory rate of 2-3 breaths/s. This rapid rate of respiration is a yogic breathing technique called “breath of fire” or “kapalabhatti” and employs a very shallow but rapid breath in which the abdominal region acts like a bellows. All 3 experiments demonstrated that right UFNB increases heart rate (HR) compared to left. Experiment 1 gave 7 negative slopes, or lowering in HR with left nostril breathing and 7 positive slopes, or increases in HR with right nostril breathing, p = .001. The second and third experiments showed differences in HR means in which right UFNB increases HR more than left, p = .013, p = .001, respectively. In experiment 2 stroke volume was higher with left UFNB, p = .045, compensating for lower HR. Left UFNB increased end diastolic volume as measured in both experiments 1 and 2, p = .006, p = .001, respectively. These results demonstrate a unique unilateral effect on sympathetic stimulation of the heart that may have therapeutic value.

 

 

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