Effect of rosary prayer and yoga mantras on autonomic cardiovascular rhythms: comparative study

BMJ. 2001 Dec 22-29;323(7327):1446-9. doi: 10.1136/bmj.323.7327.1446.


Objective: To test whether rhythmic formulas such as the rosary and yoga mantras can synchronise and reinforce inherent cardiovascular rhythms and modify baroreflex sensitivity.

Design: Comparison of effects of recitation of the Ave Maria (in Latin) or of a mantra, during spontaneous and metronome controlled breathing, on breathing rate and on spontaneous oscillations in RR interval, and on blood pressure and cerebral circulation.

Setting: Florence and Pavia, Italy.

Participants: 23 healthy adults.

Main outcome measures: Breathing rate, regularity of breathing, baroreflex sensitivity, frequency of cardiovascular oscillations.

Results: Both prayer and mantra caused striking, powerful, and synchronous increases in existing cardiovascular rhythms when recited six times a minute. Baroreflex sensitivity also increased significantly, from 9.5 (SD 4.6) to 11.5 (4.9) ms/mm Hg, P<0.05.

Conclusion: Rhythm formulas that involve breathing at six breaths per minute induce favourable psychological and possibly physiological effects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baroreflex / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Religion*
  • Respiration*
  • Yoga*