Benefits of Pranayama / Breath regulation
One of the most effective ways to influence the “stress response” is though the breath. Changes in our emotional state affect our breathing patterns and very often the breath is the first indicator of emotional imbalance and stress in the nervous system. Our breathing patterns are accessed by the brain in order to determine our level of danger or safety. If for example we take shallow, erratic breaths from the chest rather than full breaths from the abdomen, the brain will register danger and will trigger a stress response in the nervous system.
Yoga for the Mind educates us about the breath, teaching us how to interpret our breathing patterns and recognise signs of stress in our nervous system.
Through the breath we are able to exert some control over what might otherwise seem to be involuntary responses. Breath regulation allows us to quickly access our “relaxation response” in order to calm and soothe the nervous system in the short term. In the long term we can use the breath to retrain the nervous system to become robust, resilient and better able to manage stress.