Physiology of Long Pranayamic Breathing: Neural Respiratory Elements may Provide a Mechanism that Explains How Slow Deep Breathing Shifts the Autonomic Nervous System
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Augusta Women's Center, USA
- *Corresponding Author:
- Ravinder Jerath
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Augusta Women's Center, USA
E-mail: [email protected]
Received Date: June 20, 2016; Accepted Date: July 05, 2016; Published Date: July 12, 2016
Citation: Jerath R (2016) Physiology of Long Pranayamic Breathing: Neural Respiratory Elements may Provide a Mechanism that Explains How Slow Deep Breathing Shifts the Autonomic Nervous System. J Yoga Phys Ther 6:252.doi:10.4172/2157-7595.1000252
Copyright: © 2016 Jerath R, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under
the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Pranayama is a breathing technique that has been shown to be beneficial in treating many disorders such as hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, stress-related disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and can decrease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (along with yogic techniques) by enhancing parasympathetic activity of the GI tract and reducing the effects of stress [1-10].
Lesson 1: Pranayamic breathing can activate the autonomic nervous system through oxygen consumption, metabolism, and skin resistance, and the focus on slow deep breathing has been shown to improve autonomic nervous system functioning through enhanced activation of the parasympathetic nervous system [11-13].
Lesson 2: In the brain, Pranayama increases theta waves during breath holding, and delta waves are elicited by decreased breathing frequency indicating parasympathetic dominance [14,15]. Pranayama increases melatonin production creating an experience of relaxation and well-being and has been shown to increase neural plasticity and alter information processing [3,9,16].
Our paper not only presents evidence showing how Pranayama works, but also presents a hypothesis as to why Pranayama works. We suggest this breathing technique induces inhibition through impulses generated by slowly adapting stretch receptors (SARS), which are derived from the central nervous system during embryonic development [17- 21]. The inhibitory impulses and the hyperpolarization current shift the autonomic balance toward parasympathetic dominance through initiation of synchronization between the lungs and the central nervous system, along with synchronization of neural elements in the peripheral nervous system, and surrounding non-neural tissues [8,9,22-24].
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