EEG Signatures Change During Unilateral Yogi Nasal Breathing

Niazi, IK
Navid, MS
Bartley, J
Shepherd, D
Pedersen, M
Burns, G
Taylor, D
White, DE
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Journal Article
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Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Airflow through the left-and-right nostrils is said to be entrained by an endogenous nasal cycle paced by both poles of the hypothalamus. Yogic practices suggest, and scientific evidence demonstrates, that right-nostril breathing is involved with relatively higher sympathetic activity (arousal states), while left-nostril breathing is associated with a relatively more parasympathetic activity (stress alleviating state). The objective of this study was to further explore this laterality by controlling nasal airflow and observing patterns of cortical activity through encephalographic (EEG) recordings. Thirty subjects participated in this crossover study. The experimental session consisted of a resting phase (baseline), then a period of unilateral nostril breathing (UNB) using the dominant nasal airway, followed by UNB using the non-dominant nasal airway. A 64-channel EEG was recorded throughout the whole session. The effects of nostril-dominance, and nostril-lateralization were assessed using the power spectral density of the neural activity. The differences in power-spectra and source localization were calculated between EEG recorded during UNB and baseline for delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma bands. Cluster-based permutation tests showed that compared to baseline, EEG spectral power was significantly (1) decreased in all frequency bands for non-dominant nostril UNB, (2) decreased in alpha, beta and gamma bands for dominant nostril UNB, (3) decreased in all bands for left nostril UNB, and (4) decreased in all bands except delta for right nostril UNB. The beta band showed the most widely distributed changes across the scalp. our source localisation results show that breathing with the dominant nostril breathing increases EEG power in the left inferior frontal (alpha band) and left parietal lobule (beta band), whereas non-dominant nostril breathing is related to more diffuse and bilateral effects in posterior areas of the brain.These preliminary findings may stimulate further research in the area, with potential applications to tailored treatment of brain disorders associated with disruption of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity.

Scientific Reports 12, 520 (2022).
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