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Shirley Telles, Sadhana Verma, Sachin Kumar Sharma, Ram Kumar Gupta, Acharya Balkrishna
(Department of Yoga Research, Patanjaii Research Foundation, Haridwar, India)
Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2017; 23:392-398
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 AND 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.