The Scientific Benefits of Yoga and Breathing

This Mother's Day, we probably could all use a deep breath.  Whether it's spending time with your mom, being a mom, or remembering your mother, try to destress for the occasion. New  research has found that wellness and breathing go hand in hand.

What researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine have found is that there are a handful of nerve cells deep in the brainstem that connect breathing to states of mind. This tiny cluster of neurons link respiration to relaxing, attention, excitement and anxiety.  Think of this area as a sort of pacemaker.   What's fascinating is that scientists were able to identify subtypes of breathing in the neuron subpopulation - such as for anxiety, chilling, or alertness.  These neurons in term activate the brain to its state of current arousal and emotion. 

There is more research to be done in this area, but it's clear that breathing plays a role in how we feel and in deep states of meditation.  It's an effective way of calming ourselves down when we need to, a type of tool for us to be aware that we have at our disposal.  For those of you yogis out there, you can feel good about your practice of pranayama, the control of your breathing to shift your consciousness...keep up your practice, and focus on your breathing next time you go to class.  And for those of you who aren't yogis, it's worth trying it out.  The mind-body benefits are clear. 

Mom did us a favor when she told us to calm down and breath....Thanks Mom!  If you can, for Mother's Day, think about returning the favor and having her share in a yoga class with you! 

 Depicts the pathway from the neural cluster or "pacemaker" for breathing to the rest of the brain. 

Depicts the pathway from the neural cluster or "pacemaker" for breathing to the rest of the brain.