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Biohacking : The Positive Effects of Yogic Breathing

A  2019 narrative review examined 1400 case studies related to pranayama or breath regulation. The overwhelming amount of literature suggests that there is must be some beneficial effects to these breathing techniques. The practices were reduced to eight forms with the vast majority of case research on these three breathin exercises:
Bastrika (Bellow’s breath) – inhale and exhale quickly and forcefully without straining by flapping the abdomen. This should be practiced for up to 100 breaths.
Kapalabhati (Breath  of  fire / shining skull) –  Sitting with back and neck erect, one should inhale through both nostrils and exhale rapidly by flapping the abdomen during each exhalation at a pace of 60–120 breaths/min.
Bhramari  (Female honeybee humming breath) – After a full inhalation, closing the ears using the index fingers, one should exhale making a soft humming sound similar to that of a female honeybee.

The following areas were positively impacted by a pranayama practice:
  • neurocognitive- brain function
  • psychophysiological- physical symptoms induced by emotional factors
  • respiratory – breathing
  • metabolic / biochemical –  conversion of food to energy, building blocks  and waste elimination

An example of how neurocognitive changes can occur would be to wear an EEG during a 15 minute breath exercise. The muse brainwave monitor would be a good device to wear while practicing kapalabhati  breathing. What you might see / experience if you are able to reproduce the study results is the following:
  • First 5 minutes of 15 minute practice showed an increase in Alpha waves. These brainwaves are associated with concentration.
  • Later stages of 15 min exercise showed increase in Theta waves. These brainwaves are associated with creativity.
Another breathing exercise Bhramari (honeybee) has been shown to increase gamma waves. These could also be monitored on the muse and are normally quite difficult to produce without years of meditation training. The practice would need to be done  for 10 minutes. Bhramari breathing helped participants tune out irrelevant stimulation during cognition tests and decreases reaction time.

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