The ancient practice, derived from yoga, was "the first doctrine to build a theory on respiratory control, arguing that controlled breathing was a way to increase longevity," according to an article in Scientific American published Jan. 15.

But this story became the focus of an online debate rampaging after Scientific American tweeted the photo of a man who appeared to be doing the Nadi Shodhana pranayama exercise (also known as alternate nostril breathing) with the legend: stabilize the heart rate and have a powerful ability to alleviate anxiety ".

Some Indians accused the magazine of appropriating their culture, giving an old Indian technique a new Western brand image.

"Another case of turmeric milk coffee," wrote Renuka Govind, a Twitter user, referring to the popular drink sold in cafes in the United States.

"The yoga Pranayama is called" heart coherence breathing. "The next thing we know is that it will be patented and resold to us as a superior lifestyle," she said. added.

The article examines how controlled breathing can help relaxation, by focusing on "a popular technique – heart coherence – (which) offers more details on how breathing exercises promote relaxation".

It shows how heart coherence has been shown to stabilize a person's heart rate, thereby easing "anxiety".

"A typical cardiac coherence exercise involves inhaling for five seconds and then exhaling for the same time (for a 10-second breath cycle)," he said.

Shashi Tharoor, a prominent opposition politician and author, described the piece as "a detailed description of the benefits of the 2,500-year-old Indian technique of pranayama, disguised as 21st century scientific language".

A Twitter user said he is happy that the West recognizes the benefits of pranayama techniques, but urged scientists to "stick to their original names."

CNN has contacted Scientific American for comments.