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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 19, 2020

Immediate effect of Kapalbhathi pranayama on short term heart rate variability (HRV) in healthy volunteers

S. Lalitha, K. Maheshkumar, R. Shobana and C. Deepika



Kapalbhathi Pranayam (Kapal = forehead; bhati = shining) is a breathing exercise that has been practiced to cleanse the frontal brain in traditional practices like yoga. Still, there exists a dearth of literature on the effect of Kapalbhathi pranayama on physiological systems. So this present study was carried out to find the immediate effect of “kapalbhathi Pranayam” practice for the period of 5 min on cardiac autonomic function among the healthy volunteers.

Materials and methods

Apparently 50 healthy volunteers includes both sex were participated. They were randomly divided into Pranayama (n−25) and control (n−25) group. Pranayama group was practiced kapalbhathi pranayama 5 min (5 cycles) and control group was allowed to do normal breathing (12–16 breath/min). Lead II ECG was recorded for 5 min using simple AD converter before, immediately after practice and 20 min of recovery period.


One way Analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by post hoc test was done using R statistical software. There was a significant (p < 0.05) parasympathetic withdrawal (Root Mean Square of the Successive Differences (RMSSD) – p < 0.04 and HF n.u – p < 0.05) was found in the pranayama group immediately after practice and its was changed to parasympathetic domination (RMSSD – p < 0.04 and HF n.u – p < 0.05) after 20 min of recovery period.


The present study suggested that though there was parasympathetic withdrawal immediately after practicing kapalbhathi pranayama, 20 min after the recovery period showed a parasympathetic domination in the pranayama group subjects. However, further studies are required to warrant the findings of this study.

Corresponding author: Dr. R. Shobana, Department of Physiology, Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (SRIHER), Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, E-mail:

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  3. Honorarium: None declared.

  4. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2019-12-15
Accepted: 2020-01-17
Published Online: 2020-05-19

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