New research in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, examined the effect of the yogic breathing technique, Bhastrika Pranayama on lung function capacity in athletes. Bhastrika Pranayama or “bellows breath” is a practice where the inhalation and exhalation move forcefully through the nose. The breathing is deep from the diaphragm, keeping the upper body and chest still, while the belly moves in and out at the rate of about 1 second per cycle.
Researchers assessed 30 healthy individuals, placed into 2 groups. The yoga group practiced the Bhastrika Pranayama for 15 minutes and the control group went running for 15 minutes. Researchers found there was a significant change in the lung efficiency and capacity of the yoga group, as they had more maximum ventilation volume, more forced vital capacity, more forced expiratory volume, and higher levels of peak expiration flow. Researcher suggested that incorporating yoga in sports training could enhance the efficiency and performance of an athlete by enhancing lung function capacity.
Coaches should consider augmenting training programs with alternative modalities and mind body programs, that complement existing traditional strength and conditioning programs. Mind and body practices including, yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breathing practices) can enhance training, performance, and competition results.