Scientific research is demonstrating that changing your breathing helps you to control your moods.
Remember that time when you were a small child and something made you angry? What did your mother say: “Take ten deep breaths.” And now there is a growing body of scientific research to show that your mum may have been right.
Yoga is a breathing practice. The magic is all in the breathing. For thousands of years yogis in India taught that by changing the way that you breathe you could change your physical and mental processes and experience the world in an enhanced way.
Yoga and meditation teachers have advised people to quiet their minds by focusing on breathing, inhaling and exhaling through the nose. A recent study from Northwestern University [http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-fear-breathing-5699/] suggests that breathing does indeed affect brain activity, and that people are better able to remember objects and recognize fear when inhaling through their noses.
The study was led by Christina Zelano, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She says that one of the study’s major findings is that nasal inhaling causes a “dramatic difference” in areas of the brain related to emotional processing (the amygdala) and memory (the hippocampus).
This is only one of many recent studies that are demonstrating that healthy breathing patterns contribute to general well being. Across the Western world there is a huge increase in people suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma and sleep apnea (holding the breath whilst sleeping). Sedentary lifestyles where we sit all day in front of a computer also compound the problem.
Pranayama, the Indian name for yoga breathing exercises, is a skill that is easily learned but offers a lifetime of possibilities.
A regular pranayama practice allows us to become more aware of our habitual breathing patterns and to modify them if necessary to a new, healthier pattern.
Pranayama also allows you to develop and expand your ability to breathe, and this can result in better brain function, increased athletic performance and also help promote feelings of general well being. Form many people learning pranayama is the key step to quickly and effortlessly developing their yoga practice.
Unfortunately very few people teach pranayama in yoga classes despite the fact that almost all of the traditional yoga texts tell us that pranayama is an essential part of any yoga practice.
I am one of the very few yoga teachers in London who specialize in teaching pranayama privately. One private class is all you need to unlock some amazing new dimensions to your yoga practice and your life.