Autonomic responses to breath holding and its variations following pranayama

Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1988 Oct-Dec;32(4):257-64.


Autonomic responses to breath holding were studied in twenty healthy young men. Breath was held at different phases of respiration and parameters recorded were Breath holding time, heart rate systolic and diastolic blood pressure and galvanic skin resistance (GSR). After taking initial recordings all the subjects practised Nadi-Shodhana Pranayama for a period of 4 weeks. At the end of 4 weeks same parameters were again recorded and the results compared. Baseline heart rate and blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) showed a rendency to decrease and both these autonomic parameters were significantly decreased at breaking point after pranayamic breathing. Although the GSR was recorded in all subjects the observations made were not conclusive. Thus pranayama breathing exercises appear to alter autonomic responses to breath holding probably by increasing vagal tone and decreasing sympathetic discharges.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Respiration*
  • Yoga*