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Pranayama or breath regulation is considered as an essential component of Yoga, which is said to influence the physiological systems. We present a comprehensive overview of scientific literature in the field of yogic breathing. We searched PubMed, PubMed Central and IndMed for citations for keywords "Pranayama" and "Yogic Breathing". The search yielded a total of 1400 references. Experimental papers, case studies and case series in English, revealing the effects of yogic breathing were included in the review. The preponderance of literature points to beneficial effects of yogic breathing techniques in both physiological and clinical setups. Advantageous effects of yogic breathing on the neurocognitive, psychophysiological, respiratory, biochemical and metabolic functions in healthy individuals were elicited. They were also found useful in management of various clinical conditions. Overall, yogic breathing could be considered safe, when practiced under guidance of a trained teacher. Considering the positive effects of yogic breathing, further large scale studies with rigorous designs to understand the mechanisms involved with yogic breathing are warranted.

Background: There is very little evidence available on the effects of yoga-based breathing practices on response inhibition. The current study used stop-signal paradigm to assess the effects of yoga breathing with intermittent breath holding (YBH) on response inhibition among healthy volunteers.Materials and Methods: Thirty-six healthy volunteers (17 males + 19 females), with mean age of 20.31 ± 3.48 years from a university, were recruited in a within-subject repeated measures (RM) design. The recordings for stop signal task were performed on three different days for baseline, post-YBH, and post yogic breath awareness (YBA) sessions. Stop-signal reaction time (SSRT), mean reaction time to go stimuli (go RT), and the probability of responding on-stop signal trials (p [r/s]) were analyzed for 36 volunteers using RM analysis of variance. Results: SSRT reduced significantly in both YBH (218.33 ± 38.38) and YBA (213.15 ± 37.29) groups when compared to baseline (231.98 ± 29.54). No significant changes were observed in go RT and p (r/s). Further, the changes in SSRT were not significantly different among YBH and YBA groups. Conclusion: Both YBH and YBA groups were found to enhance response inhibition in the stop-signal paradigm. YBH could be further evaluated in clinical settings for conditions where response inhibition is altered.

The ancient Indian yoga text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, describes six cleansing techniques. The objective of cleansing techniques is to purify and prepare the body for the practice of yoga postures, breath regulation, and meditation. Yogic visual concentration technique (trataka) is one of these techniques. A previous study showed an increase in critical flicker fusion (CFF) following yogic visual concentration (trataka). The present study planned to assess the immediate effect of trataka on cognitive performance using the Stroop color-word test. Performance on the Stroop color-word test was assessed in 30 healthy male volunteers with ages ranging from 18 years to 31 years old (22.57 +/- 3.65 years). The participants were tested before and after yogic visual concentration (trataka) and during a control session on two separate days. There was a significant improvement in performance on the Stroop color-word test after trataka compared to the control session [repeated measures analysis of variance (RM ANOVA) with Bonferroni adjustment; p < 0.001]. Performance on the Stroop color-word test was better after trataka compared to the control session suggesting that the trataka technique increased the selective attention, cognitive flexibility, and response inhibition.