Another great reason to practice Iyengar yoga and tai chi – breathe deeply, recharge and de-stress… It’s like a mini vacation 🙂

Breathing for Your Better Health

Controlling Your Breath Is an Easy Way to Improve Mental and Physical Health

Abdominal, or diaphragmatic, breathing is often taught in yoga and meditation classes. Experts say air should be breathed in through the nose, and the exhale should be longer than the inhale. Dr. Vranich recommends trying to breathe this way all the time but other experts say it is enough to use the technique during stressful or tense times or when it is necessary to focus or concentrate.

Slow breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the stem of the brain to the abdomen. It is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s “rest and digest” activities. (By contrast, the sympathetic nervous system regulates many of our “fight or flight” responses.)

The vagus-nerve activity causes the heart rate to decrease as we exhale, said Richard Gevirtz, a psychology professor at Alliant International University in San Diego. Vagal activity can be activated when breathing at about five to seven breaths a minute, said Dr. Gevirtz, compared with average breathing rates of about 12 to 18 breaths a minute.

The vagus nerve’s response includes the release of different chemicals, including acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that acts as an anti-inflammatory and slows down digestion and the heart rate, said Stephen Silberstein, director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia who is working on an article on the vagus nerve and its functions.

Read the whole article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/breathing-for-your-better-health-1422311283

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