Effect of enhancement of oxygen supply through yogic procedure on cognitive task performance

N. Jhansi Rani
Andhra University

The objective of the present study was to investigate whether practise of a specific yogic procedure that enhances oxygen supply to the head will improve one's performance on a cognitive task. The study was carried out on a group of yoga practitioners. The group comprised 19 subjects. A simple arithmetic task was given to the subjects on a day when they did not practise yoga. Number of correct responses within five minutes' time and the accuracy of their responses (% of correct responses) were taken as their score on the test. After a gap of fifteen days the same test was repeated on the same group of subjects. In this session the test was conducted immediately after they practised a specific yogic procedure. It is one of the cleansing procedures practised in hatha yoga known as kapalabhati, which means to make the skull shine. The purpose of this procedure is to purify the skull by enhancing supply of oxygen to the head. The obtained data was statistically analyzed. The results revealed that practise of kapalabhati enhanced performance on the cognitive task. The difference between the performance on a simple arithmetic task before and after the yogic procedure was statistically significant (p<0.01). It was also found that accuracy of their performance on a simple arithmetic task was significantly better when tested soon after enhancement of oxygen supply through yogic procedure than when tested on a day when the subjects had not practised any yogic procedures (p<0.05). From the results obtained in the study it appears that practise of a yogic cleansing procedure called kapalabhati, which is considered to enhance oxygen supply to the head, improves one's performance on cognitive tasks both quantitatively and qualitatively.

This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002