Using breath work can lead to a calm mind, increased energy levels, and improved overall health.

One of the core principles of yoga is based on breath work – focusing and controlling the breath and finding balance through breath. It is common to hold one’s breath when one is stressed. The breath is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal for self-regulation, energy increase, and improved overall well-being. Belisa Vranich, Psy.D., author of the book Breathe, says, “We’ve diminished our capacity [for breathing] so thoroughly that we are only using the very top of the lungs – just barely getting by.”

Studies indicate the great impact that awareness and regulation of breath can have on a person’s health, including decreased blood pressure, increased cognitive performance and reduced stress levels. Using the power of breath to manage stress levels could help you in managing insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks, which are all often closely related to high stress levels

In using breath mindfully and skillfully, you can support the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, which in turn ensures healthy physiological responses.

Here’s how it works:

When you focus on your breath in yoga, the control of the breath shifts from the brain stem to the cerebral cortex due to the awareness level. The mind then becomes quieter and a sense of peace and calm takes over. As a direct result, stress levels and overwhelming thoughts lessen. Energy then begins to flow more freely, working through any emotional and physical blockages and giving the body and mind some freedom. Breath essentially has a very intimate relationship with the overall movement of energy throughout our bodies.

Physically, breath work is also related to our structural alignment and the manners in which we hold and move our bodies. Breath awareness can help to eliminate joint compression and other imbalances from postures and movements.

Because of the interconnectedness of the mind and breath, breath gives us a tool that we can explore and work with to find emotional balance and improve our overall well-being.