Breathing is something so simple and yet so powerful. It allows our body to function, and yet we don’t often put much thought into its rhythm or pattern. Think of when you become very nervous or anxious, your breaths become heavy and laborious. When you’re calm and even drowsy, you’re breathing becomes deep and slow. Your breathing is a reflection of your state of mind and therefore, changing your breathing and the monitoring of your breathing can change your life.
If you currently practice meditation, you know the incredible affects that it has on your wellbeing. So much, in fact, that a 2005 Harvard study concluded that controlled breathing could actually increase the size of one’s brain. Focusing your breathing can be more powerful than you think! Meditation also has the power to reduce your stress levels. Shallow breathing suggests that your body is in, or is preparing to be in, fight-or-flight mode. Setting aside a moment to sit down, be still and actually focus on your breathing will significantly help your body to achieve a state of calm. In addition, channeling and controlling your breathing has the ability to reduce anxiety levels. A 2007 study found that students who practiced deep-breathing meditation reported having less anxiety and self-doubt and more concentration than those who did not practice deep breathing beforehand!
Not only great for your brain, breathing can also be incredibly beneficial for your heart rate. Your heart, like your breathing, is a reflection of your current mood and situational factors. Therefore, by practicing non-yogic deep breathing, a study suggests that you can actually improve heart rate variability.