4 science-backed ways breathing right can change your life
Breathing is probably something you take for granted. But years of yoga practice have taught me that harnessing your breath can be powerful.
Regulating breath is an integral part of yoga – we call it ‘pranayama’. Now scientific research is catching up and confirming a lot of what yoga has been teaching us for thousands of years about the power of breathing.
Here are 4 ways the research says deep and focused breathing can transform your body and mind.
- Send a signal to chill. Controlled rhythmic breathing can slow your heart rate and spread calm throughout your body by stimulating the vagus nerve – part of your parasympathetic nervous system. When this nerve is activated, it sends out messages to relax your muscles, mind and beyond.
- Improve attention and focus. The same nervous system processes that help you calm down can also help you to focus. Research has shown that regulating your breathing can help you think more clearly and rationally when anticipating a stressful event. In other words, you can take back control and perform when it counts.
- Manage chronic pain. I love seeing how yoga and breathing exercises can make such a meaningful difference for people undergoing treatment for chronic diseases. By lowering your blood pressure and retraining your body’s reaction to stressful situations, you can literally turn down the pain response in your brain.
- Boost athletic performance. Our marathon man Dan was onto something when he talked about using breathwork to stay in the zone. Breathing not only makes you feel more calm and focused – research on runners shows it can also deliver up to a 5 percent boost to physical performance, and can likely help your performance in other forms of exercise.
Try this: My Take a breath before bed meditation will calm your body and mind at the end of your day.
YOGA • MEDITATION
For classic yoga with a modern twist, Elsa Pataky turns to one woman: Tahl Rinsky. Born in New York and raised in Israel, Tahl is a Yoga Alliance ERYT200 and RYT500 certified instructor, and co-owner of Creature Yoga in Byron Bay. Her dynamic Vinyasa style of yoga balances flexibility and sweat, flow and strength, focus and stillness to better connect body, breath and mind.
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