Yoga breathing practice (pranayama) can rapidly bring the mind to the present moment and reduce stress. Breathing is the only autonomic function that can easily be controlled through voluntary effort. It serves as a portal through which imbalances in the stress-response system can be corrected. Our ability to deal with stress, as has been demonstrated through research, has an impact on the quality of life and on how we age. Research shows that stress, overstimulation, excess expectations, and mental turmoil drain our energy and our capacity to enjoy life. Mind-body and spiritual practices offer the sense of peace, joy, and relatedness that may enhance our lives and those who are around us.
Todays research provides us with clinical evidence for the use of yoga breathing in the treatment of stress induced bodily and psychological discomforts or even depression and anxiety. By inducing stress resilience, breath work enables us to rapidly and compassionately relieve many forms of suffering while promoting longevity and quality of living.
R. P. Browna, P. L. Gerbargb, Yoga Breathing, Meditation, and Longevity Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1172 (Aug 2009): 54-62.