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Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: Neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system

  • Augusta Women's Center


Pranayamic breathing, defined as a manipulation of breath movement, has been shown to contribute to a physiologic response characterized by the presence of decreased oxygen consumption, decreased heart rate, and decreased blood pressure, as well as increased theta wave amplitude in EEG recordings, increased parasympathetic activity accompanied by the experience of alertness and reinvigoration. The mechanism of how pranayamic breathing interacts with the nervous system affecting metabolism and autonomic functions remains to be clearly understood. It is our hypothesis that voluntary slow deep breathing functionally resets the autonomic nervous system through stretch-induced inhibitory signals and hyperpolarization currents propagated through both neural and non-neural tissue which synchronizes neural elements in the heart, lungs, limbic system and cortex. During inspiration, stretching of lung tissue produces inhibitory signals by action of slowly adapting stretch receptors (SARs) and hyperpolarization current by action of fibroblasts. Both inhibitory impulses and hyperpolarization current are known to synchronize neural elements leading to the modulation of the nervous system and decreased metabolic activity indicative of the parasympathetic state. In this paper we propose pranayama's physiologic mechanism through a cellular and systems level perspective, involving both neural and non-neural elements. This theoretical description describes a common physiological mechanism underlying pranayama and elucidate the role of the respiratory and cardiovascular system on modulating the autonomic nervous system. Along with facilitating the design of clinical breathing techniques for the treatment of autonomic nervous system and other disorders, this model will also validate pranayama as a topic requiring more research.
Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: Neural
respiratory elements may provide a mechanism
that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the
autonomic nervous system
Ravinder Jerath *, John W. Edry, Vernon A. Barnes, Vandna Jerath
Augusta Women’s Center, 2100 Central Avenue, Suite 6 & 7, Augusta, GA 30904, United States
Received 20 January 2006; accepted 23 February 2006
Summary Pranayamic breathing, defined as a manipulation of breath movement, has been shown to contribute to a
physiologic response characterized by the presence of decreased oxygen consumption, decreased heart rate, and
decreased blood pressure, as well as increased theta wave amplitude in EEG recordings, increased parasympathetic
activity accompanied by the experience of alertness and reinvigoration. The mechanism of how pranayamic breathing
interacts with the nervous system affecting metabolism and autonomic functions remains to be clearly understood. It is
our hypothesis that voluntary slow deep breathing functionally resets the autonomic nervous system through stretch-
induced inhibitory signals and hyperpolarization currents propagated through both neural and non-neural tissue which
synchronizes neural elements in the heart, lungs, limbic system and cortex. During inspiration, stretching of lung tissue
produces inhibitory signals by action of slowly adapting stretch receptors (SARs) and hyperpolarization current by
action of fibroblasts. Both inhibitory impulses and hyperpolarization current are known to synchronize neural elements
leading to the modulation of the nervous system and decreased metabolic activity indicative of the parasympathetic
state. In this paper we propose pranayama’s physiologic mechanism through a cellular and systems level perspective,
involving both neural and non-neural elements. This theoretical description describes a common physiological
mechanism underlying pranayama and elucidate the role of the respiratory and cardiovascular system on modulating
the autonomic nervous system. Along with facilitating the design of clinical breathing techniques for the treatment of
autonomic nervous system and other disorders, this model will also validate pranayama as a topic requiring more
c2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Pranayama: a brief review
‘‘Pranayama’’ (the practice of voluntary breath
control, consisting of conscious inhalation, reten-
0306-9877/$ - see front matter
c2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 706 736 5378; fax: +1 706 738
E-mail address: (R. Jerath).
Medical Hypotheses (2006) x, xxx–xxx
tion and exhalation) is often practiced in conjunc-
tion with ‘‘dhyana’’ (meditation), and ‘‘asanas’’
(physical posture) [1]. Versions of pranayama vary
from single nostril breathing to belly breathing.
Pranayama consists of three phases: ‘‘puraka’’
(inhalation); ‘‘kumbhaka’’ (retention) and ‘‘rec-
haka’’ (exhalation) that can be either fast or slow
[2]. Although all pranayama has three phases, dif-
ferent forms of pranayama evoke dissimilar and
sometimes opposite responses in the subject
depending on variables such as which nostril is used
or the speed of the respiration. Pranayama has
been researched mostly for its beneficial applica-
tions in treatment of cardiovascular diseases such
as hypertension [2–4], pulmonary disease such as
asthma [5–7], autonomic nervous system imbal-
ances [8], and psychologic or stress related disor-
ders [4,9].
Pranayama is known to improve pulmonary func-
tion [10] and cardiovascular profile [2–4]. A But-
eyko breathing device, which mimics pranayama,
was shown to improve symptoms and reduce bron-
chodilator use in asthma patients [5,7]. Pranayama
has also been shown, over time, to reduce oxygen
consumption per unit work [11]. ‘‘Kapalabhati’’,
a fast breathing pranayamic technique, has been
shown to promote decarboxylation and oxidation
mechanisms in the lungs which is believed to
‘‘quiet’’ the respiratory centers [12]. Alteration
in information processing at the primary thalamo-
cortical level inducing modification in neural mech-
anisms regulating the respiratory system [13] may
contribute to pranayama’s beneficial pulmonary
effects. In studies that examined pranayama as a
form of exercise, nostril breathing was shown to in-
crease hand grip strength of both hands [14]. Pra-
nayama, by reducing risk factors associated with
cardiovascular disease [15], has shown that it is
not only theraputic but also preventative. Reduc-
tion in oxidative stress levels with increased super-
oxide dismutase and decreased number of free
radicals may explain in part the beneficial long-
term impact pranayama has on the cardiopulmo-
nary system [16].
Pranayama is known to increase neural plasticity
and to alter information processing making it a pos-
sible treatment for psychological and stress disor-
ders or improving one’s psychological profile
[4,9]. Higher improvement in IQ and social adapta-
tion parameters were noticed in mentally retarded
children after yogic training including pranayama
[17]. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, which includes pranay-
ama, has been used as a public health intervention
for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder,
depression, stress related medical illnesses, sub-
stance abuse, and rehabilitation of criminal
offenders for its ability to enhance well being,
mood, attention, mental focus, and stress toler-
ance [9]. In conjunction with other yogic tech-
niques, pranayama has been shown to decrease
symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome by enhanc-
ing parasympathetic activity of gastrointestinal
tract and by reducing effects of stress [18]. It has
been mentioned as a possible treatment for symp-
toms of epilepsy [1] and has been shown to in-
crease plasticity of motor control indicating that
it might have applications in rehabilitation pro-
grams [19].
Different forms of pranayama activate different
branches of the autonomic nervous system effect-
ing oxygen consumption, metabolism and skin
resistance. Pranayamic breathing, characterized
by brief breath retention, caused significant in-
creases in oxygen consumption and metabolic rate
while pranayamic breathing, characterized by long
breath retention, caused lowering of oxygen
consumption and metabolic rate [20]. This demon-
strates that slow breathing enhances parasympa-
thetic activation. In another study using breathing
exercises mimicking pranayama, slow breathing
over a period of three months was shown to im-
prove autonomic function while fast breathing did
not have an effect on the autonomic nervous sys-
tem [8]. Slow breathing pranayamic exercises show
a strong tendency of improving or balancing the
autonomic nervous system through enhanced acti-
vation of parasympathetic nervous system. In con-
trast to slow pranayamic breathing, nostril
breathing, both through right nostril, left nostril,
and both nostrils, has been shown to increase base-
line oxygen consumption indicative of sympathetic
discharge of the adrenal medulla [21]. Contradicto-
rily, left nostril breathing has been shown to in-
crease volar galvanic skin resistance interpreted
as a reduction in sympathetic nervous activity
[21]. Although nostril breathing and short pranaya-
mic breathing practices are capable of altering the
autonomic nervous system, more research is re-
quired to fully understand their clinical benefits
Pranayama may also affect the immune system.
Inhibition of the sympathetic nervous system has
been shown to enhance function of the immune
system in several forms of meditation including
mindfulness meditation, Qigong, and Transcenden-
tal meditation [22–25]. Since pranayama has been
shown to shift the autonomic nervous system away
from sympathetic dominance [8,26] it is probable
that pranayama may have beneficial immune ef-
fects similar to meditation. More studies are
needed to elucidate pranayama’s direct effect on
immune function.
2 Jerath et al.
Although many studies show pranayama is a ben-
eficial technique, there have been studies that
indicate possible risks especially associated with
fast breathing versions. If done improperly, fast
breathing pranayama can cause hyperventilation
and may hyperactivate the sympathetic nervous
system [27] which may stress the body. Pneumo-
thorax has been attributed to fast breathing
‘‘Kapabhati’’ pranayama in one case study [28].
Some studies indicate that deep breathing similar
to slow breathing pranayama may agitate symp-
toms of bronchial hyperactivity. Deep breathing in-
duced parasympathetic activity is correlated with
bronchial hyperactivity in asthmatics [29]. It is pos-
sible that pranayamic parasympathetic activity
may elicit bronchial hyperactivity in asthmatics as
Pranayamic breathing has been shown to be a
beneficial clinical application in the treatment
of psychological disorders as well as physiological
diseases. Research has revealed pranayamic
breathing to be a low risk, cost effective adjunct
treatment that can be potentially applied to im-
prove symptoms associated with cardiovascular
disorders, autonomic disorders, and psychological
disorders including those involving stress [9].
Although slow pranayamic breathing is said to
be one of the most practical relaxation tech-
niques [2] and holds a great deal of potential in
the treatment of autonomic and psychological
disorders, two problems exist in present research
that prevent full application and understanding of
this practice. The first is that there is no coher-
ent model for the mechanism underlying slow
pranayamic breathing. A physiological description
of the pranayamic mechanism would provide in-
sight into the cellular physiology of deep breath-
ing and the dynamic connection between the
nervous system and respiration. Secondly, many
studies report only the effects of pranayama, yo-
gic postures, and meditation collectively. In fu-
ture research, pranayama needs to be studied
exclusively without meditation or postures in or-
der to fully understand the pranayamic mecha-
nism. Within the research conducted on the
many different types of pranayama, slow rhyth-
mic pranayamic breathing seems to be the most
practical and hold the most physiological benefit.
Slow pranayama, a treatment for autonomic
Slow pranayamic breathing, characterized as regu-
lar slow frequency respiration with long periods of
breath retention has been known to cause short-
term and long-term changes in physiology. One
long-term effect of pranayamic breathing is the
improvement in autonomic function [3]; specifi-
cally, with slow breathing pranayama there is a
noted increase in parasympathetic activity and a
decrease in sympathetic dominance [8]. It has been
suggested that the cardio-respiratory system can
be normalized through rhythmic breathing exer-
cises [30,31] such as slow pranayama.
Short-term effects of slow pranayamic breathing
include increased galvanic skin resistance (a non-
neural response) [21], decreased oxygen consump-
tion [20], decreased heart rate, decreased blood
pressure [3], and increased amplitude of theta
waves [32]. Increase theta amplitude and delta
waves during breath retention and slow breathing
is indicative of a parasympathetic state while alpha
and beta waves signify activity. Both the short-
term and long-term effects of pranayamic breath-
ing indicate a dynamic alteration of the autonomic
There are several chemical and non-chemical
mechanisms that may account for some of the
physiologic phenomena experienced by pranayama
practitioners. No significant changes in arterial
blood gases were noted after pranayama practice
indicating a neural mechanism for pranayama’s ef-
fect [33]. Increased melatonin production after a
regimen of slow breathing pranayamic exercises
has been attributed to pranayama’s tendency to
create a sense of relaxation and well being in the
subject [4]. Breath holding, an essential part of
pranayama, is shown to induce theta waves [32].
A decrease in breathing frequency can increase
synchronization of brain waves eliciting delta wave
activity [34] indicating parasympathetic domi-
nance. Although these mechanisms provide some
clues to pranayama’s mechanism, the neural mech-
anism that causes this body-wide autonomic shift is
largely unknown [3]. It has been proposed that cer-
tain voluntary breathing exercises can modulate
the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous sys-
tem bringing their levels of activation into a normal
range [35]. Some have proposed that pranayama al-
ters autonomic responses to breath holding per-
haps by increasing vagal tone and decreasing
sympathetic discharges [26]. It has been suggested
that pranayama ‘‘balances’’ the autonomic ner-
vous system through stretch-induced inhibitory sig-
nals of abdominal muscles (specifically the
diaphragm) and even nerve endings in the nose
[32]. It is abundantly evident that respiration and
the parasympathetic response are intricately con-
nected. What is not clear, however, is the cellular
mechanism that integrates respiration and the
parasympathetic response.
Physiology of long pranayamic breathing 3
The general cellular mechanism of
It is our hypothesis that voluntary, slow, deep
breathing functionally resets the autonomic ner-
vous system through stretch-induced inhibitory sig-
nals and hyperpolarization currents propagated
through both neural and non-neural tissue which
synchronizes neural elements in the heart, lungs,
limbic system, and cortex.
It is suspected that deep pranayamic breathing,
by voluntary control, dynamically modulates the
autonomic nervous system by heightening genera-
tion of two physiologic signals: (1) Pranayama
increases frequency and duration of inhibitory
neural impulses by activating stretch receptors
of the lungs during above tidal volume inhalation
(as seen in the Hering Breuer’s reflex). (2) Pranay-
ama heightens generation of hyperpolarization cur-
rent by stretch of connective tissue (fibroblasts)
localized around the lungs (see Fig. 1). It is recog-
nized that inhibitory impulses, produced by slowly
adapting receptors (SARs) in the lungs during infla-
tion [36], play a role in controlling typically auto-
nomic functions such as breathing pattern, airway
smooth muscle tone, systemic vascular resistance,
and heart rate [37]. Stretch of connective tissue
fibroblasts are capable of effecting the membrane
potential of nervous tissue [38]. Both hyperpo-
larization and inhibitory impulses generated by
stretch of neural and non-neural tissue of the lungs
are the likely agents of autonomic shift during pra-
nayamic breathing.
Inhibitory current synchronizes rhythmic cellular
activity between the cardiopulmonary center [39]
and the central nervous system [40]. Inhibitory cur-
rent regulates excitability of nervous tissues [41]
and is known to elicit synchronization of neural ele-
ments which typically is indicative of a state of
relaxation [42]. Synchronization within the hypo-
thalamus and the brainstem [43] is likely responsi-
ble for inducing the parasympathetic response
[44] during breathing exercises. The strongest car-
dioventilatory coupling, a parasympathetic-type
phenomenon, occurs when there is decreased
Slow pranayamic
Generation of
inhibitory impulses in
neural tissue
Generation of
Inhibitory impulses
in neural tissue
synchronize tissue
Synchronization of
neural tissue
includ ing
hypothalamus and
Decreased action
potentials in
neural tissue
Par asympath etic
Activation of slowly adapting
stretch receptors (SARs)
Decreased BP,
heart rate, O2
Stretch of fibroblasts
surrounding lungs
Resting membrane
potential polarity
increases in
surrounding tissue
decreasing metabolic
act ivit
Figure 1 Diagram of the series of events that occur during the autonomic shift present in pranayamic slow breathing.
4 Jerath et al.
breathing frequency [45] similar to that found in
slow pranayama. Cardioventilatory coupling, found
during deep breathing exercises, indicates a syn-
chronization mechanism that coordinates neural
and non-neural activity. It is likely that inhibitory
synchronized activity between the lungs and brain
elicits parasympathetic-like states.
Hyperpolarization affects the autonomic ner-
vous system by modulating neuronal excitability
[46], resting membrane potential [39], and gener-
ating rhythmic brain activity [40]. It is well docu-
mented that hyperpolarization of tissues
manifests itself in parasympathetic-like changes
[47]. Hyperpolarization is generated during stretch
of fibroblasts in tissue surrounding the lungs [38].
Similarly, in some neurons, hyperpolarization cur-
rent inhibits unsynchronized neuronal input [46]
thereby increasing the dominance of synchronized
input. Stretch of lung fibroblasts likely contributes
to the generation of the slower wave brain activity
and the parasympathetic autonomic shift present
during slow pranayamic breathing exercises.
There are several ways to test the hypothesis
that voluntary slow pranayama functionally resets
the autonomic nervous system through stretch-
induced inhibitory signals and hyperpolarization
currents propagated through both neural and non-
neural tissue. Simultaneous, intracellular, in vivo
recordings of fibroblasts and endothelium in the
lungs and heart during slow pranayamic breathing
would show that hyperpolarizing currents, originat-
ing in the lungs, are being propagated long dis-
tances affecting the cellular metabolism as well
as nervous system excitability. Blockade of inhibi-
tory signals during activation of lung stretch recep-
tors would likely show a decrease in the
parasympathetic effect of slow pranayamic breath-
ing consistent with our model. A recording measur-
ing autonomic indicators such as respiratory sinus
arrhythmia (RSA), the frequency of heart rate var-
iability, and EEG during the practice of pranayama
would also suggest that this deep breathing tech-
nique resets the autonomic nervous system through
parasympathetic shift and causes increased syn-
chronization of neural elements with the heart,
lungs, and cortex.
This hypothesis presents a common physiological
mechanism underlying several forms of breathing
exercises and elucidates the role of the respiratory
and cardiovascular system on modulating the auto-
nomic nervous system. Revealing the cellular
mechanisms that shifts the autonomic nervous sys-
tem towards parasympathetic dominance is impor-
tant for the general understanding of yogic
breathing practices and breathing physiology. The
cooperative action of pulmonary slowly adapting
stretch receptors, heart and lung fibroblasts, vas-
cular endothelium, nervous system glia and neu-
rons during voluntary deep breathing needs to be
further investigated at the cellular level.
Slow pranayamic breathing generates inhibitory
signals and hyperpolarizing current within neural
and non-neural tissue by mechanically stretching
tissues during breath inhalation and retention. It
is likely that inhibitory impulses in cooperation
with hyperpolarization current initiates the syn-
chronization of neural elements in the central ner-
vous system, peripheral nervous system, and
surrounding tissues ultimately causing shifts in
the autonomic balance towards parasympathetic
dominance. Further experimental research of the
cooperative cellular mechanisms of pranayama is
needed to confirm this theory.
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... Respiration interacts with the autonomic nervous system, as inhalation is associated with sympathetic activity and exhalation with parasympathetic activity (Jerath et al., 2006). SLOW increases parasympathetic outflow (Kromenacker et al., 2018), while decreased sympathetic activity and increased parasympathetic activity is likely associated with better cognitive performance (Forte et al., 2019). ...
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Introduction: Intensive and long-lasting office work is a common cause of muscular and mental disorders due to workplace stressors. Mindful and slow breathing exercises decrease psychological stress and improve mental health, whereas fast breathing increases neuronal excitability. This study aimed to explore the influence of 5 min of mindful breathing (MINDFUL), slow breathing (SLOW), fast breathing (FAST), and listening to music (MUSIC) on muscle tension and executive function during an intensive psychological task. Methods: Forty-eight participants (24 men and 24 women) were enrolled. Muscle tension was recorded using surface electromyography, and executive function was assessed using the Stroop Color and Word Test (Stroop Test). The respiration rate (RR), oxygen saturation (SpO2), end-tidal carbon dioxide (EtCO2), and the subjects' preferred method were also recorded. During the experiment, participants performed a one-time baseline test (watching a neutral video for 5 min) and then completed 5 min of MUSIC, MINDFUL, SLOW, and FAST in a random sequence. The Stroop Test was performed after each intervention, including the baseline test, and was followed by a 5 min rest before performing the next intervention. Results: None of the methods significantly influenced muscular activity and performance of the Stroop Test in both men and women, based on the average 5 min values. However, at the fifth minute, men's accuracy rate in the Stroop Test was significantly higher after SLOW than after MUSIC and FAST, and the reaction time after the SLOW was the shortest. SpO2 was significantly higher during SLOW than during MUSIC, and RR was relatively lower after SLOW than after MUSIC. Most men preferred SLOW, and most women preferred MUSIC, whereas FAST was the most unfavorable method for both men and women. Conclusion: Brief breathing exercises did not substantially affect muscle tension under psychological stress. SLOW demonstrated greater potential for sustaining executive function in men, possibly via its superior respiration efficiency on SpO2 and inhibition of RR.
... Furthermore, objective measurement using biometric information has merits in that it is hardly affected by subjective bias compared to questionnaires and can predict unconscious changes in the mental state. Therefore, many studies have introduced approaches to evaluate emotional states based on biological responses [34]- [36]. The combination of subjective and objective evaluations based on questionnaires and biometric information enables a more reliable evaluation. ...
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Providing extraordinary experiences is an important aspect of virtual reality (VR). Among these unusual experiences, flying in the sky has been investigated in various studies that propose methods for providing this experience. The presentation of a floating sensation is essential for improving the virtual flight experience; however, conventional systems that present floating sensations tend to be massive. To simplify the systems presenting floating sensations, we focused on the changes in the tactile ground of the sole during takeoff and landing. This study aims to clarify how synchronization of sole contact switching and visual stimuli affects the sensation of floating in a virtual flight experience. We created an experimental device that can switch between grounded and ungrounded soles in accordance with takeoff and landing in the VR image while the user is seated. The experimental results show that synchronizing the grounding/ungrounding of the sole in a virtual environment improves the sensations of presence, floating, moving, as well as enjoyment of the flight experience. Additionally, objective evaluations using physiological data, specifically electrodermal activity (EDA), suggested that switching the physical ground contact of the sole according to takeoff and landing significantly increases the excitement level during the flight experience. These results indicate the importance of tactile ground-state manipulation synchronized with visual stimuli in the construction of a high sense of presence in a virtual flight system.
... More recently, in 2000 and 2002, researchers found that restricting tidal volume caused air hunger from vagal afferents from the lung to the anterior insula (17,18). Higher tidal volumes transmit to the insula by the dorsal vagus nerve, inhibiting the amygdala and sympathetic nervous system activity (19,20). This supports the use by veteran operators of the command, "Take a deep breath." ...
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Information has specific qualities that adapt it for engagement. Correlation as a descriptive term strengthens engagement, while causation as an explanatory term can mislead engagement. Information flows and has a contextual range of values and can combine with local experience. Information is stored as revisable (belief) versus not revisable (knowledge). Information reduces uncertainty, except in the flux of rapidly changing events. Disturbances and disruptions make the gap between stable and unstable situations and between theory and practice visible. Theories, classifications, and the standards necessary for high-risk operations can become idealized, impairing information and engagement. The belief that more data illuminates the problem and directs us toward the solution will occupy valuable assets. Data collection in these 'reddened' environments increases information variance, disintegrating reliability during the flux of events.
... This seems incongruously over-simplified-reducing the body to nothing but the breath to explain the effects of jhāna. Yet, the in-out breath has been linked to the autonomic nervous system (Tang et al., 2009;Telles et al., 2013;Zaccaro et al., 2018), with deep slow relaxed breathing known to influence autonomic and pain processing (Busch et al., 2012), emotional regulation (Sarkar, 2017), and the activation of both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (Busch et al., 2012;Jerath et al., 2006;Sinha et al., 2020). Zest and happiness may therefore be somewhat intuitively related to regulation of the autonomic nervous system followed by activation of the somatosensory and parasympathetic components of the peripheral nervous system. ...
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Objectives Research into meditation-related emergent phenomenology is advancing, yet progress is hampered by significant incongruities between meditator self-reports and objective measurements (e.g., of brain states). We address these incongruities by developing and demonstrating the potential of contemplative theory to support scientific investigation. Method Our approach is to translate key theories from Buddhist contemplative traditions into scientific terms, and then systematize these translations as a functionalist model of the mind—the Thin Model—able to inform scientific inquiry. Results Buddhist doctrine is shown to be consistent with objective descriptions of mental function, and the Thin Model derived from these translations demonstrates immediate explanatory power. The nested nature of the model allows explanations to be restricted to the specific problem being studied. The model enables connection of complex higher-level phenomena, such as self-reports of mental states, to complex lower-level phenomena, such as empirically measured brain states. This connection does not require simplistic assumptions to be made. A detailed demonstration illustrates how the model can convert subjective accounts of the ecstatic meditative states known as jhānas into testable neuroscientific hypotheses. Conclusions We provide an account of contemplative theory that is amenable to scientific investigation. Our approach, exemplified in the Thin Model, offers immediate explanatory power, allows meaningful dialogue between different research traditions, and provides an organizing principle for explanations of mental phenomena. The Thin Model may also be relevant to other fields concerned with autonomous entities or the nature and operation of the mind.
... There are a variety of breathwork interventions (i.e., conscious breathing practices) that may be helpful for managing and treating chronic pain [22][23][24][25][26]. For example, increasing evidence supports that slow deep breathing and paced breathing (e.g., respiratory biofeedback) can improve pain-related outcomes and mechanisms, including increased parasympathetic nervous system activity (i.e., heart rate variability), baroflex sensitivity, and relaxation, and decreased stress, anxiety, depression, negative affect, muscle tension, and experimental pain sensitivity [27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38]. These studies, however, primarily examine the effects of controlled breathing practices in healthy samples. ...
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Due to the persistent, costly, and complex nature of chronic low back pain (cLBP), nonpharmacological self-management approaches rooted in the biopsychosocial model of pain are of great interest to develop and test. Respiration is a vital physiological function that is also bidirectionally related to other body systems (e.g., nervous, cardiovascular), pain, and psychological processes (e.g., stress, emotions). Therefore, breathing practices may be promising self-management strategies for chronic pain. Research has shown that conscious connected breathing, a technique where there is no pause between inhalation and exhalation, combined with periods of breath retention can influence pain-related mechanisms (e.g., inflammation). However, this breathing practice has never been examined for its impact on chronic pain symptoms. The primary aim of this randomized pilot study was to test the feasibility and acceptability of a 5-day conscious connected breathing with breath retention intervention compared to a deep breathing sham control intervention for adults with cLBP. Participants included 24 adults with cLBP between 18-65 years. Both interventions were described as Breathing and Attention Training and neither was depicted as the active intervention in order to reduce possible expectancy and placebo effects common in pain research. We found it was feasible to recruit, randomize, and retain participants and that both interventions were acceptable, satisfying, and helpful. Although underpowered, preliminary clinical results will be presented. As the study design was feasible and the interventions were acceptable, a larger trial is needed to test the efficacy and mechanisms of this breathing self-management practice.
... It has been shown that one effective technique to increase parasympathetic nervous system activity is to decelerate the breathing rate [161,164,165]. The mechanism of Diaphragmatic Breathing (DB) on MS reduction is not totally understood, but it may activate the inhibitory reflex between vomiting and respiration [161]. ...
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The mismatch in signals perceived by the vestibular and visual systems to the brain, also referred to as motion sickness syndrome, has been diagnosed as a challenging condition with no clear mechanism. Motion sickness causes undesirable symptoms during travel and in virtual environments that affect people negatively. Treatments are directed toward reducing conflicting sensory inputs, accelerating the process of adaptation, and controlling nausea and vomiting. The long-term use of current medications is often hindered by their various side effects. Hence, this review aims to identify non-pharmacological strategies that can be employed to reduce or prevent motion sickness in both real and virtual environments. Research suggests that activation of the parasympathetic nervous system using pleasant music and diaphragmatic breathing can help alleviate symptoms of motion sickness. Certain micronutrients such as hesperidin, menthol, vitamin C, and gingerol were shown to have a positive impact on alleviating motion sickness. However, the effects of macronutrients are more complex and can be influenced by factors such as the food matrix and composition. Herbal dietary formulations such as Tianxian and Tamzin were shown to be as effective as medications. Therefore, nutritional interventions along with behavioral countermeasures could be considered as inexpensive and simple approaches to mitigate motion sickness. Finally, we discussed possible mechanisms underlying these interventions, the most significant limitations, research gaps, and future research directions for motion sickness.
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The active dendritic conductances shape the input-output properties of many principal neurons in different brain regions, and the various ways in which they regulate neuronal excitability need to be investigated to better understand their functional consequences. Using a realistic model of a hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neuron, we show a major role for the hyperpolarization-activated current, I h , in regulating the spike probability of a neuron when independent synaptic inputs are activated with different degrees of synchronization and at different distances from the soma. The results allowed us to make the experimentally testable prediction that the I h in these neurons is needed to reduce neuronal excitability selectively for distal unsynchronized, but not for synchronized, inputs.
Spontaneous pneumothorax is the most common cause of pneumothorax. We report a case of a 29-year-old healthy woman who presented to the emergency department with a spontaneous pneumothorax caused by a yoga breathing technique called Kapalabhati pranayama , or breath of fire . Yoga breathing exercises are commonly practiced, and a limited number of studies have shown various physiologic benefits of yoga breathing. This is the only known report of spontaneous pneumothorax caused by pranayama, but some other rare causes are noted. This case should illustrate that adverse side effects can occur when one pushes the body to physiologic extremes.
There are currently a few methods that can be used to assess the time of impending parturition in the goat, especially if exact breeding dates are unknown. One indicator of the onset of parturition is a decrease in the doe’s blood progesterone level approximately 24–30h prior to parturition. Laboratory serum/plasma progesterone assays commonly require 24h or more to obtain results, as well as being expensive. This study was designed to evaluate whether semi-quantitative enzyme immunoassay (EIA) progesterone kits could be used to determine plasma progesterone levels in does during late gestation, and whether a correlation could be drawn between the test result and the time of parturition. Plasma samples were collected twice daily from 16 pregnant does starting on day 143 of pregnancy and ending 1 day following parturition. The plasma progesterone levels indicated by the three EIA kits were compared to one another and to a radioimmunoassay, and assessed for any relationship to the actual time of parturition. Test results indicating low plasma progesterone levels (5.0–7.8ng/ml) from the Status Pro, TARGET, and PreMate tests were found to be correlated 100, 100, and 82.2% with delayed parturition. The radioimmunoassay results concurred with the progesterone ranges given for Status Pro, TARGET, and PreMate tests in 75.7, 58.8 and 53.7% of the cases, respectively. The results of this study indicates that any one of the commercially produced EIA progesterone tests can be used to predict with a high degree of accuracy the likelihood of parturition occurring within the next 24–30h. These tests are simple to perform and cost effective.
• A hyperpolarization-activated non-specific cation current, Ih, was examined in bushy cell bodies and their giant presynaptic terminals (calyx of Held). Whole-cell patch clamp recordings were made using an in vitro brain slice preparation of the cochlear nucleus and the superior olivary complex. The aim was to characterise Ih in identified cell bodies and synaptic terminals, to examine modulation by presynaptic cAMP and to test for modulatory effects of Ih activation on synaptic transmission. • Presynaptic Ih was activated by hyperpolarizing voltage-steps, with half-activation (V1/2) at –94 mV. Activation time constants were voltage dependent, showing an e-fold acceleration for hyperpolarizations of –32 mV (time constant of 78 ms at –130 mV). The reversal potential of Ih was –29 mV. It was blocked by external perfusion of 1 mmCsCl but was unaffected by BaCl2. • Application of internal cAMP shifted the activation curve to more positive potentials, giving a V1/2 of –74 mV; hence around half of the current was activated at resting membrane potentials. This shift in half-activation was mimicked by external perfusion of a membrane-permeant analogue, 8-bromo-cAMP. • The bushy cell body Ih showed similar properties to those of the synaptic terminal; V1/2 was –94 mV and the reversal potential was –33 mV. Somatic Ih was blocked by CsCl (1 mm) and was partially sensitive to BaCl2. Somatic Ih current density increased with postnatal age from 5 to 16 days old, suggesting that Ih is functionally relevant during maturation of the auditory pathway. • The function of Ih in regulating presynaptic excitability is subtle. Ih had little influence on EPSC amplitude at the calyx of Held, but may be associated with propagation of the action potential at branch points. Presynaptic Ih shares properties with both HCN1 and HCN2 recombinant channel subunits, in that it gates relatively rapidly and is modulated by internal cAMP.
Adult asthmatics, ranging from 19 to 52 years from an asthma and allergy clinic in a university setting volunteered to participate in the study. The 17 students were randomly divided into yoga (9 subjects) and nonyoga control (8 subjects) groups. The yoga group was taught a set of breathing and relaxation techniques including breath slowing exercises (pranayama), physical postures (yogasanas), and meditation. Yoga techniques were taught at the university health center, three times a week for 16 weeks. All the subjects in both groups maintained daily symptom and medication diaries, collected A.M. and P.M. peak flow readings, and completed weekly questionnaires. Spirometry was performed on each subject every week. Analysis of the data showed that the subjects in the yoga group reported a significant degree of relaxation, positive attitude, and better yoga exercise tolerance. There was also a tendency toward lesser usage of beta adrenergic inhalers. The pulmonary functions did not vary significantly between yoga and control groups. Yoga techniques seem beneficial as an adjunct to the medical management of asthma.
Pranayama is a Yogic breathing practice which is known experientially to produce a profound calming effect on the mind. In an experiment designed to determine whether the mental effects of this practice were accompanied by changes in the arterial blood gases, arterial blood was drawn from 10 trained individuals prior to and immediately after Pranayama practice. No significance changes in arterial blood gases were noted after Pranayama. A neural mechanism for the mental effects of this practice is proposed.
To determine whether the yogic Ujjayi pranayamic type of breathing that involves sensory awareness and consciously controlled, extremely slow-rate breathing including at least a period of end-inspiration breath holding in each respiratory cycle would alter oxygen consumption or not, ten males with long standing experience in pranayama, and volunteering to participate in the laboratory study were assessed. These subjects aged 28-59 yr, had normal health appropriate to their age. Since kumbhak (timed breath holding) is considered as an important phase of the respiratory cycle in the pranayama, they were categorised into two groups of five each, one group practising the short kumbhak varieties of pranayama, and the other the long kumbhak varieties of pranayama. The duration of kumbhak phase was on an average 22.2 percent of the respiratory cycle in the short kumbhak group, and 50.4 per cent in the long kumbhak group. The oxygen consumption was measured in test sessions using the closed circuit method of breathing oxygen through the Benedict-Roth spirometer. Each subject was tested in several repeat sessions. Values of oxygen consumption of the period of pranayamic breathing, and of post-pranayamic breathing period, were compared to control value of oxygen consumption of the prepranayamic breathing period of each test session. The results revealed that the short kumbhak pranayamic breathing caused a statistically significant increase (52%) in the oxygen consumption (and metabolic rate) compared to the pre-pranayamic base-line period of breathing. In contrast to the above, the long kumbhak pranayamic breathing caused a statistically significant lowering (19% of the oxygen consumption (and metabolic rate).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
The present study conducted on twelve normal healthy male subjects showed decrease in blood urea, increase in creatinine and tyrosine after one minute of Kapalabhati, a fast-breathing technique of Hatha Yoga (120 respiratory strokes (min.). From biochemical point of view the practice of Kapalabhati seems to promote decarboxylation and oxidation mechanisms due to which quieting of respiratory centres is achieved, which is also the prerequisite for the practice of Pranayama, another important technique of Yoga.