The combination of pranayama, meditation, lecture and prayer improves cardiovascular function in healthy people in two weeks, according to a study from S. Nijalingappa Medical College published in a 2011 issue of Heart Views.
It’s possible to improve cardiovascular function in healthy people in as little as two weeks of regular practice by reducing heart rate and blood pressure, when you perform a prescribed combination of pranayama breathing exercises, meditation, lecture and prayer.
Healthy Women and Men
Researchers selected 50 healthy men and women between the ages of 20 and 60 from a group of people at a yoga center who had “not yet started practicing yoga but were keen on learning.” they split the participants into treatment and control groups. During the study, all the participants in both groups ate the same meals and did not do any physical exercise except the yoga training.
Therapeutic Pranayama Sequence to Lower Blood Pressure
The participants took the same therapeutic pranayama yoga class every day for 15 consecutive days from 6 to 8 pm. The class consisted of 10 minutes of prayer, 45 minutes of pranayama, a 5-minute break, a 30-minute lecture on an array of health topics, 20 minutes of meditation and a final 10 minutes of prayer. The breathing meditation portion of the class in this study consisted of eight types of pranayama yoga listed below.
Therapeutic Pranayama Sequence to Improve Cardiovascular Function
1) Vibhagiya pranayama — sectional breathing
A. Adama (Kanista) Vibhagiya pranayama — abdominal / diaphragmatic breathing.
B. Madhyama vibhagiya pranayama — thoracic breathing in your ribcage.
C. Aadya Vibhagiya pranayama — breathing into the upper part of your chest under your clavicles.
D. Poorna Mudra pranayama — a full yogic breath combining abdominal, thoracic and clavicular breathing.
2) Nadishuddi pranayama — alternate nostril breathing.
3) Kapalabathi Kriya — cleansing breaths.
4) Bahya pranayama — external breathing.
5) Sitali and Sitkari –Two types of cooling breaths.
Proved Beyond Doubt
The researchers concluded the study “proved beyond doubt, that regular practice of pranayama and meditation for minimum of 15 days is beneficial in improving cardiovascular function, even in healthy individuals, irrespective of age, gender, and body mass index.” In the pranayama treatment group, both genders experienced a significant reduction in resting pulse rate and blood pressure.
Before completing the pranayama class, the participants had an average heart rate of 78.06 beats per minute and after class it dropped to 74.38. Most people have a heart rate of 60 to 90 beats per minute, but athletes can have a heart rate as low as 40 to 60. Before class the participants had an average systolic blood pressure of 126.80 mmHg and a diastolic reading of 79.76 mmHg, but after class the SBP dropped to 123.00 mmHg and the DBP was 76.68 mmHg.
*Questions that stick out in my mind about this study are: 1) “Was one component of the class or the combination of the components responsible for the results?” 2) “What type of meditation was it?” and 3) “Did the prayer portion involve chanting or singing?”