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Acute yogic breathing increases forearm blood flow but does not alter blood pressure

      Slow paced yoga breathing has been reported to reduce blood pressure acutely and chronically. We tested the hypothesis that an acute bout of 20 min of slow yoga breathing in yoga naïve-individuals would acutely increase forearm blood flow and reduce blood pressure in young, healthy humans (n=7, 5 M/2 F). Subjects were instrumented for venous occlusion plethysmography as a means to measure forearm blood flow and a brachial arterial catheter for invasive blood pressure monitoring. Following 20 min of supine rest, subjects were instructed to perform slow paced breathing for 20 min and then return to baseline respiration for an additional 20 min of supine rest. Average respiratory rate at baseline was 12.1±0.5 breaths/min and during slow breathing it was 5.5±0.4 breaths/min. Forearm blood flow (FBF: ml/min/100 dl tissue) was immediately increased above baseline in the first minute of slow breathing (2.3±0.2 vs 1.7±0.2, p<0.05). This was maintained for the 20 min period of slow breathing (1 min: 2.3±0.2, 20 min: 2.1±0.2). Upon cessation of slow breathing there was a return of FBF to baseline levels in the first minute of the recovery period (1.8±0.3). Blood pressure and heart rate were unchanged between baseline and slow breathing. We conclude that slow breathing in yoga naive individuals does not acutely lower blood pressure; however, there is an immediate and sustained increase in forearm vasodilation.
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