Alternative modalities for health and fitness are becoming more popular in practice and research today. A recent study examined the effects of a yoga breathing practice on heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and cardiorespiratory functioning. Researchers assessed cardiorespiratory responses before and after the yoga breathing session. Researchers found that heart rate and systolic blood pressure significantly decreased after the yoga breathing session, and peak expiratory flow rates increased. The results indicated that the yoga breathing significantly improved overall cardiorespiratory responses.
Another study examined the benefits of a Tai Chi Chuan practice and cardiorespiratory fitness among older Tai Chi practitioners. Researchers examined 28 males with a regular practice of Tai Chi and 30 sedentary men. Measurements were taken in both sample groups including; resting heart rate, cardiovascular function, balance, sit and reach test, total body rotation test, and a three minute step test. The results of the study indicated that the Tai Chi sample had healthier scores for resting heart rate, reach, balance, flexibility, and overall cardiorespiratory fitness.
These studies demonstrate that alternative mind and body programs can effectively augment a more vigorous exercise program as well as be an option for fitness for individuals with limitations. A breathing practice initiated either through yoga or a Tai Chi can significantly improve cardiorespiratory function, decrease heart rate, blood pressure, promote relaxation, and a sense of calm. Future studies should investigate the use of alternative therapies including yoga and Tai Chi with a larger demographic of athletes and nonathletes to validate and further examine the findings of this research.