When someone is stressed, angry, or having shortness of breath, tell the person, “take a deep breath, relax, and calm down”. The act of taking a deep breath – extending on inhalation and exhalation – calms us down and stabilizes our emotions.
In fact, breathing helps us regulate important functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can also reinforce proper body mechanics that puts less stress on your body during movement.
Breathing affects the pre-Bötzinger complex (or preBötC). In turn, neurons in this structure affect breathing (in a bidirectional manner) and emotional states. The preBötC also affects the locus coeruleus which controls arousal (alertness or anxiety). Unsurprisingly, breathing has the potential to reduce anxiety and stress.
The impact of yoga pranayama on our body operates using the same principle. Pranayama is the ancient practice of controlling your breathing (timing, duration, and frequency). In doing so, pranayama stimulates the vagus nerve, which is the main component of the parasympathetic system. This system oversees a vast array of crucial bodily function such as mood regulation.