Effect of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and Pranayam
(SKY&P) on Borderline Essential Hypertension:
A Pilot Study
Dr Tabassum Rashid & Dr Afaf Moustafa
Effat University
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
ICHM 2012
November 17-18, 2012
“When the Breath wanders, the mind is
unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the
mind still."
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Evaluating the effects of SKY&P- a breathing and meditation
intervention, on levels of BP, oxygen in blood, PF, and Positive Affect
and Negative Affect among individuals with borderline essential
Project period: 2011-2012
Principal Investigator: Tabassum Rashid Ph D
Co- Investigator: Afaf Moustafa MD
-Data Analysis
Discussion & Conclusion
Limitations and Scope
Numerous psychological researches report significantly higher scores on measures
of :
General psychological distress/ stress,etc
The word Yoga comes from the
Sanskrit word “Yuj” that means
to yoke, join or unite
Practiced for centuries, it entails
amalgamation of all aspects of
the individual – body, mind and
soul – to achieve a happy,
balanced and healthy life
Currently yoga is being studied
as a science--practical,
methodical, and systematic
The Art of Yoga Breathing: Pranayama
Pranayam: The ancient science of breath meaning both “control of energy” and
“experience of energy” (Sovik, 2000)
“Tasmin Sati Svasa prasvasayorgativicchedah Pranayamah”—Regulation of
breath or the control of Prana is the stoppage of inhalation and exhalation,
which follows after securing that steadiness of posture or seat,
Asana…Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Chapter II-49
The object of Pranayama practice is to emphasize the Inhalation, the
Exhalation, or retention of the breath.
Emphasis on the Inhalation is called Puraka Pranayama, whereas,
Rechaka Pranayama refers to a form of Pranayama in which the
Exhalation is lengthened while the Inhalation remains free.
“Sudarshan Kriya incorporates specific natural rhythms of the breath
which harmonize the body, mind and emotions. This unique breathing
technique eliminates stress, fatigue and negative emotions such as
anger, frustration and depression, leaving you calm yet energized,
focused yet relaxed”.
Sudarshan: Su stands for “proper” and darshan means “vision”
Kriya: a yogic practice meant to purify the body
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Art of living
Research indicates that Sudarshan Kriya has significant effects and
outcomes on several physical and psychological disorders:
Reduces levels of stress by reducing the stress hormone ‘cortisol’
Boosts immune system
Increases anti-oxidant protection: Enzymatic activities and gene expression of specific antioxidant
systems have been reported to be increased in SK practitioners…lifespan of the lymphocytes were
increased which correlated with an increase in the expression of anti-cell death genes and prosurvival
This study suggests that SK may exert its effects on various physiological systems through changes in
gene regulation. (Sharma,2008).
SKY & brain functioning…EEG analysis shows better information processing.
Reduces anxiety and depression from mild, moderate to severe.
A pilot study investigated the anti-depressant efficacy of Sudarshan
Kriya and accompanying breathing practices (SK&P) in 15 dysthymic
and 15 melancholic (major) depression patients whose sole treatment
was SK&P, and showed a significant improvement (Janakiramah, et
Post-traumatic stress disorder (Descilo, T., et al.,2009)on Sunami
survivors; on Hurricane Katrina survivors (Garberg & Brown, 2005)
Cognitive emotion regulation - sustained modulation of electrical brain
potentials (Gootjes, L., Franken, I.H.A., and Van Strien, J.W. (2011)
Twenty five borderline hypertensive female patients (30-50yrs)registered
in the outpatient clinic of a private women’s university were selected for
the study.
The participants were not on any kind of prescribed medications either for
hypertension or any other physical or psychological ailment.
‘Saga of small sample’
The proposal was approved by the Effat University Research
Committee, and permission to use human subjects was obtained from
the Research Ethics Committee
An informed written consent was obtained from the participants
The initial sample size comprised of 13 participants in the
experimental group and 12 in the control group
However, 3 participants from the experimental group dropped out in
the very beginning and 3 more stopped during the first 5-6 weeks of
intervention, reducing the sample to problematically low.
The experimental group was trained in Pranayamas and Cyclic Breathing of SKY by
an Art of Living (AOL)licensed instructor in a 5-day intensive program
Participants followed up practicing on all week days for an hour in the Psychology
Lab at Effat University
On weekends they were advised to practice at home and keep a log
Participants were advised NOT to make any changes in their life style: diet, exercise,
the practice continued for twelve weeks, with a bi-monthly follow up with the
Various parameters including Blood pressure were recorded before interventions,
weekly during the trials, and at the end of the experimental trials
Ujjayi breath also called ‘ocean breath’, ‘victory breath’/ pranayam
yogic three-​​part breathing (three cycles, once with hands on waist,
hands at chest level with elbows extended to the side, and arms up and
hands touching back shoulders, biceps by the ears)
bastrika: (also called bellows breath, three repetitions), Om chanting
(three repetitions) and
Sudarshan Kriya: a special yogic package involving rhythmic breathing
process of variant rhythms ranging from slow and calming to rapid and
All four of these breathing exercises or practices are part of yogic tradition, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has modified them slightly or substantially.
Using IBM SPSS-20 software, the independent samples t-test was used
to examine the differences among the experimental and control groups
The paired samples t-test was administered to measure the differences,
if any, pre and post intervention phases in the experimental group, as
well as control group, and also to measure the differences in each
participants pre and post intervention means of both systolic and
diastolic blood pressure.
The post intervention systolic blood pressure of participants in the
experimental group (M = 89, SD = 5.71) was lower than that of the
participants in the control group (M = 136.44, SD = 11.46).The test was
significant, t(15) = -2.46, p = .05.
A paired-samples t test was used to see the difference within
experimental group pre and post intervention on both systolic and
diastolic blood pressure. The results indicated that the mean for post
intervention (M = 6.13, SD = 3.88) was significantly lower than the
mean for post intervention (M = 10, SD = 7.29), t(7) = 4.48, p < .05.
Results indicated a decrease in the means of both systolic and diastolic
blood pressure of participants (P<0.05), when calculated separately!
Qualitative data to substantiate the findings
Interviews- Recordings-Transcripts- Content Analysis
Blood pressure levels came down to normal and stayed within normal
range even after the trials stopped
Stress relieved
Felt more energetic
Better performance
Positive moods
Less irritability
This pilot study on a small sample has indicated that SKY& P may be
beneficial in borderline essential hypertension, however, further
systematic studies using larger samples and various locations are
strongly recommended to confirm these results.
Sudharshan Kriya & Pranayam could be a cost effective treatment for
No side effects
No intervention
With additional health benefits
Easy to learn and practice
Type of sample : Internal validity?
Small sample : External Validity?
Limited generazibilty!
Questions or

Effect of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and Pranayam (SKY&P)