It Manipulates Emotional, Physiological State To Make Us Less Stressed And More Productive. Take a long, slow breath. Really, it’ll help.
The idea that breathing exercises can somehow calm you down is an ancient one -yoga isn’t a recent development, you know. But few people understand exactly how breathing can relieve stress on a physiological level and can even be used to increase workplace productivity .
The answer lies in the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for the automatic functions that keep our body ticking. While most autonomic functions -such things as heart rate and digestion -are out of our conscious control, breathing is unique in that we can take charge, if desired. Not only that, but invoking different breathing patterns can have a sort of cascade effect, shif ting our entire autonomic nervous system between a state of rest and relaxation (scientists call this zone the “parasympathetic” state) and the ready-to-rumble state of fight-or-flight (this is called the “sympathetic” state).
In layman’s terms, different breathing patterns can serve as a quick and often easy way to manipulate your emotional and physiological state in ways that allow you to be calmer, less stressed, and more productive. Our lungs are filled with receptors that tell our brains whether we are inhaling or exhaling, explained Dr.Patricia Gerbarg, an assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at New York Medical College and co-author of The Healing Power of the Breath. As we inhale, we activate the sympathetic state (the fight-orflight system). As we exhale, we activate the parasympathetic state (the calm and collected system). This is why yogastyle breathing exercises often involve long exhalations.
“For maximum productivity, you want to breathe in a way that will keep you in the parasympathetic zone so you are calm and stress-free, but not too far into it to the point where your mind is mush,” Gerbarg said. To achieve offi ce zen, Gerbarg suggests a breathing practice called Coherent Breathing, which features equal-length inhalations and exhalations at a very slow pace, without holding your breath. For most adults, the ideal breathing rate is four and a half to six full breaths per minute1. According to Gerbarg, this technique is ideal because it strikes a balance between the benefits of both the parasympathetic and sympathetic states and can be done with little effort after a bit of training. Studies have also linked it to a reduced stress and increased cognitive performance, reports internet.