Slow yoga breathing improves mental load in working memory performance and cardiac activity among yoga practitioners

Author: Singh Deepeshwar1, Rana Bal Budhi1
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Division of Yoga and Life Sciences, Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA), Bangalore, KA, India.
Conference/Journal: Front Psychol
Date published: 2022 Sep 14
Other: Volume ID: 13 , Pages: 968858 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.968858. , Word Count: 184

This study investigated the immediate effect of slow yoga breathing (SYB) at 6 breaths per minute (bpm) simultaneously on working memory performance and heart rate variability (HRV) in yoga practitioners. A total of 40 healthy male volunteers performed a working memory task, 'n-back', consisting of three levels of difficulty, 0-back, 1-back, and 2-back, separately, before and after three SYB sessions on different days. The SYB sessions included alternate nostril breathing (ANB), right nostril breathing (RNB), and breath awareness (BAW). Repeated measures analysis of variance showed a significant reduction in reaction time (ms) in 2-back condition immediately after ANB (-8%), RNB (-8%) and BAW (-5%) practices. Similarly, the accuracy was improved in the 0-back condition after RNB (4%), and in the 2-back condition after ANB (6%) and RNB (6%) practices. These results suggest that SYB practice enhances cognitive abilities (8-9%) related to memory load and improves the functioning of cardiac autonomic activity, which is required for the successful completion of mental tasks.Trial registered in the Clinical Trials Registry of India (CTRI/2018/01/011132).

Keywords: attention; autonomic functions; heart rate variability (HRV); pranayama; working memory; yoga breathing.

PMID: 36186291 PMCID: PMC9516310 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.968858