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Effects of Breathwork (Bhastrika pranayama) on Anxiety

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

One month of Bhastrika Pranayama training led to significant changes in effect and anxiety

Novaes, M.; Palhano-Fontes, F.; Onias, H.; Andrade, K.; Lobão-Soares, B.; Arruda-Sanchez, T.; Kozasa, K.; Santaella, D.; & Barros de Araujo, D.

A recent study published in the Frontiers in Psychiatry journal has shed new light on the effects of Bhastrika pranayama (type of Breathwork practise) on anxiety.

The Breathing group received a 15-minute session of Bhastrika pranayama while the control group engaged in a 15-minute rest period. Before and after the intervention, the participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing their anxiety and affect, while also undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The findings were promising. The study demonstrated that the Breathing group experienced significant reductions in anxiety levels compared to the control group. Additionally, Bhastrika pranayama led to increased positive affect, while reducing negative affect in both groups.

fMRI results revealed that the intervention stimulated the frontal and limbic structures of the brain, which are associated with emotion regulation and thought processes. This indicates that Bhastrika pranayama may be a beneficial tool for individuals who struggle with anxiety and mood regulation.

This study has important implications for the use of Bhastrika pranayama in clinical and non-clinical settings. It suggests that regular practice of the technique may lead to long-term improvements in anxiety and mood regulation. Additionally, the study highlights the value of yoga and pranayama as complementary therapies to standard treatments for anxiety and mood disorders.

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