The Benefits of Yoga Breathing for Emotional Regulation

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The Benefits of Yoga Breathing for Emotional Regulation

Introduction

Yoga breathing exercises, known as pranayama, have been linked to various positive physiological and psychological effects. While previous research has suggested that pranayama may improve emotional regulation, this study aimed to investigate how these changes are represented in the brain.

Methods

30 young adults were randomly assigned to either a pranayama training group or a control group that engaged in non-related activities. The pranayama group underwent a 5-day pranayama training, followed by four weeks of regular pranayama practice. Both groups completed measures of state and trait affect and anxiety, as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) assessments.

Results

The pranayama group showed significant decreases in state anxiety and negative affect, and increases in positive affect after the pranayama intervention. fMRI analyses revealed changes in brain activity in areas related to emotion processing, including the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

Discussion

These findings suggest that pranayama breathing techniques may improve emotional regulation by altering the brain network involved in emotion processing. The authors propose that pranayama may influence emotional regulation through attention and awareness mechanisms, similar to meditation practices. The study provides preliminary evidence for the benefits of pranayama for emotional well-being and paves the way for further research.

Conclusion

Yoga breathing exercises may be an effective tool for improving emotional regulation. This study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the psychological benefits of pranayama and suggests that these benefits may be mediated by changes in brain activity.

Authors

Morgana M. Novaes, Fernanda Palhano-Fontes, Heloisa Onias, Katia C. Andrade, Bruno Lobão-Soares, Tiago Arruda-Sanchez, Elisa H. Kozasa, Danilo F. Santaella, and Draulio Barros de Araujo

Credit and Rights

OMG I Yoga



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