At the root of our being, our personality, emotions, thoughts, mental and physical health, is – Our mind. A calm and composed mind is the basis of good health. When we talk of calming the mind as a source of mental well-being, often people conjure very esoteric, unattainable meditation practices. 

Conscious breathing is an easy hack into a deeper and calm mental state, where one can use it to govern emotional and mental wellness. Breathing calms, the brain frequencies and produces a certain degree of quietness. By changing the patterns of breathing, we can reset our emotional state. 

Emotions impact Breathing 

Our emotions and breathing patterns are intertwined.

Have you noticed how do you breathe when you are sad, angry, joyous, fearful, or anxious?

Think about how you breathe in different situations. When you are angry, you are most likely to have very rapid, short hot breaths. Most people sigh often when they are sad. These are not long deep breaths, but cold sighs.

Have you seen how children go out of breath when they cry? Because it is impossible to cry and deep breathe at the same time.

Ever seen kids jumping for joy?  As adults, we learn to tame ourselves and maybe just put arms in the air, but it is full breath for sure. When you fear something, breathing becomes shallow and perhaps cooler as compared to hot breath, when you are angry.

Have you noticed footballers taking that penalty stroke, with deep focus and concentration, a deep breath in a moment of calm before they strike the goal? Time hangs in balance.

Our emotions impact our breathing, unconsciously. And the reverse is also true.

Bio-respiratory feedback of breath 

Conscious breathing balances the nervous system and brings forward very deep-rooted emotions.

Dr. Lee Bradley from the Bihar School of Yoga gives a very cogent view on the emotional management of breathing. Dr. Bradley has done a lot of work with Asthma patients, teaching conscious breathing.

“Suppression of emotions, jealousy, anger, loneliness, resentment, longing for affection, fear of rejection, hesitation, makes us hold our emotions and breath.  The person who holds to things begins to clutch for his breath at times when he feels threatened.  Paradoxically the more anxious he becomes, the more he clutches for his breath and more elusive it becomes.”

Modern research validates ancient pranayama

Now let us reverse this paradigm. Can your respiratory system influence your emotions? Yes Absolutely.

Yogic breathing or pranayama is very effective for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in military personnel. In a study done at Northeastern University, Boston, the researchers concluded that pranayama interventions impact the ability to manage future life stressors and add to positive gains and psychological symptom reduction.

Neuroscience shows breathing helps to manage moods. Breathing rhythms impact emotions and promote mental well-being. Conscious breathing changes our changes deep-seated patterns in a subtle way and calms us down.

A recent study, on the effect of yogic breathing exercises on moods, concluded that slow deep breathing relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system and calms us down. Yogic breathing exercises have a beneficial effect on mood and emotional state.

The last word

As a Yoga evangelist, all that I can say, grab a mat and learn this life-changing practice. The connection between emotions, mental health, and breathing is unmistakable. Even 15 minutes a day, three times a week, makes a huge difference.  

Let your respiration be your inspiration and let your breath guide you to better mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

Anu Lall is the Founder and CEO of YogaSmith, Singapore. She is the author of the book Breath Workout, available on Amazon stores worldwide. 

Anu Lall link to