Breathing practices are being advised by doctors, therapists, yoga and mindfulness teachers, and for good reason. Breathing is one of the body's most elementary functions and and one of the most accessible ways to calm the nervous system, helping us become more responsive and less reactive, which helps us create improved health and relationships.
Breathing is a clearing process of what’s been held in the body. We inhale and bring in oxygen, and exhale to release carbon dioxide and toxins. According to Chinese medicine, the breath can also release emotions. The lungs are associated with grief and inspiration, while the heart is where we feel joy, love, and sadness. We express or exhale with the lungs, and we can hold our breath and hold things in. Sobbing is involuntary spasm of the lungs to let go grief. The belly carries anger, fear, and worries. Because of this, it's important to bring the breath beyond the diaphragm and belly movement and also engage the movement of the ribs to benefit the heart and lungs.
Research supports that practicing breath control, or pranayama, can strengthen immune systems, lower blood pressure, and improve concentration and focus. We become less fearful, more resilient to stress, and feel an increase in our energy. Some of the other benefits of breath control include less depression and anxiety; physical pain regulation; increased lung capacity; increased oxygenation of the blood; aids with some detox; helps smokers quit; helps with the emotional element of asthma; and is a tool for meditation practice, bringing you into the moment and keeping you in the present.
Breathing practices help us to cultivate energy, spark awareness, and improve our emotional state. With healthier body, mind, and heart, we're better inspired to create in our homes, communities, and professions. So next time you feel anxious, take a breathing break.