The more doctors explore breathing as a form of illness prevention and therapy, the more they turn up evidence of its importance.
There is a bulk of research highlighting breath exercises’ ability to combat anxiety, depression, and stress.
A 2005 study found that two minutes of slow, controlled breathing led to a significant drop in blood pressure.
A 2015 study found that six months of breath training led to improvements in mental flexibility and cognitive function.
Recently, on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, Neuroscientists Dr. Huberman went into detail on the mind-body connection between breathing exercises and changing your state of mind.
So, do all those cliche “just breathe” posters actually hold the secret to a better life?
Well, kind of. But, the focus and importance is on how we breathe.
Breathing is the only physiological function that is under our control. Slowing our breath has profound and immediate effects on our body.
A proper breath starts with gradual inhalation — think slow and steady — into the belly, followed by a gradual and complete exhale.
Emphasis on the complete exhale. Emptying our lungs has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve. If you don’t know what that is, take a look at this.
While a single breath this way can be helpful, research shows that a breathing rate of around 5 breaths per minute for a sustained period of time (depending on your comfort level) is the sweet spot.
Just like anything important, breathing takes practice. Spending time each day, even just a few minutes, will allow you to train yourself in adopting a proper breathing technique.