Controlled breathing for mental and physical benefits

Frog statues in yoga positions

Sometimes people say to me “Why do you teach people how to breathe in yoga? Surely everyone knows how to breathe?” The issue is not that we don’t know how to breathe but that we may not be breathing in a helpful way. Learning and practising different controlled breathing (pranayama) techniques can bring physical and mental benefits.

This theory is not new for those familiar to yoga, but it’s now becoming more mainstream. For example, there is a very good article in the New York Times no less, which sets out the benefits of learning controlled breathing techniques and gives three examples for you to try, each one with moving jpgs of the body and breath movement. Worth a read and to give the breathing exercises a go.

Frog statues in yoga positions
Image CC0 Pixabay (Couldn’t think of anything else for ‘breathing’ but these frogs are cute!)

“Consciously changing the way you breathe appears to send a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow heart rate and digestion and promote feelings of calm as well as the sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol.

And, on a slightly lighter note, here’s a nice meditation of mindfulness where you incorporate your cat which is also on the NY Times website.


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