Friday, 26 May 2017

Why Deep, Slow Breathing Is so Calming

Image Credit: gstatic.com
Some recent research shows the reason controlled, purposeful breathing is so calming is because it doesn’t activate specific neurons in your brain that communicate with your arousal center. Put another way, the reason rapid, shallow breathing is so stress-inducing is because it activates neurons that trigger arousal, which typically translates into worry and anxiety. 

In this animal study, researchers were attempting to identify different types of neurons and their role in breathing function. They were focused on the pre-Bötzinger complex, also known as the breathing pacemaker. As reported by The New York Times:

“More than 25 years ago, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles first discovered a small bundle of about 3,000 interlinked neurons inside the brainstems of animals, including people, that seem to control most aspects of breathing. They dubbed these neurons the breathing pacemaker.”

The researchers honed in on 175 neurons in the breathing pacemaker, which they then "silenced" (eliminated) in the mice, with the expectation that this would alter their breathing patterns. However, that didn’t happen. There were no changes at all in their breathing patterns after the neurons were knocked out.

Instead, the researchers were surprised to find the mice became very relaxed, and remained relaxed even in situations where anxiety would normally be triggered. What they discovered is that these neurons positively regulate neurons in a brainstem structure called the locus coeruleus, which is linked to arousal. It is, in other words, the formerly hidden link between breathing rate and emotional state. Study co-author Jack Feldman, distinguished professor of neurology at UCLA, told The Verge:

"It's a tie between breathing itself and changes in emotional state and arousal that we had never looked at before. It has considerable potential for therapeutic use."

While the creation of drugs to target this brain region is likely part of the agenda, there are natural methods already known to do so. Controlled breathing, or pranayama as it's known in the practice of yoga, is a central part of many ancient traditions.

Article Source: http://articles.mercola.com

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