Take a Deep Breath: A Pilot Study Demonstrating a Significant Reduction in Blood Pressure with 15 Minute Daily Pranayama Breathing

  • Jane A. McElroyEmail author
  • Shamita Misra
  • Megan Vasile
  • Michael C. Hosokawa
General Issue


Approximately one third of US patients are diagnosed with pre-hypertension, associated with significant health risks. Current treatment guidelines recommend lifestyle modification as first-line therapy for pre-hypertension, and a few recent studies have indicated the potential for mind-body therapies to reduce blood pressure in pre-hypertensive patients. Our study investigated the effect of daily practice of Pranayama, a group of yogic breathing exercises, on blood pressure of eight pre-hypertensive individuals. Participants received weekly Pranayama instruction and blood pressure measurements were obtained. Daily Pranayama practice resulted in statistically significant blood pressure reduction of 11 points (systolic) and 8 points (diastolic) between baseline and week six. Blood pressure measurements at week nine were similar to week six. The ease with which the technique of Pranayama can be learned and practiced by patients and its potential to significantly lower blood pressure makes this technique a promising non-pharmacologic tool for blood pressure reduction in pre-hypertensive patients.

The small study presented here provides a discussion of the possible physiological basis for the effectiveness of analyzing Pranayama breathing in the care of pre-hypertensive patients. Such an approach to examining the logic behind and evidence for or against any intervention should be a permanent aspect of education and training of all health care providers.

Key words

Pre-hypertension yogic breathing blood pressure reduction Pranayama 


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Copyright information

© Association for the Behavioral Sciences and Medical Education 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane A. McElroy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shamita Misra
    • 1
  • Megan Vasile
    • 1
  • Michael C. Hosokawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Family and Community Medicine DepartmentUniversity of Missouri School of MedicineColumbiaUSA

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