Why would we want to manipulate breathing, since it is a completely natural part of the life process?
Breathing is such a spontaneous process that we don’t pay too much attention to it. However, most of us do NOT breath anywhere near appropriately and, as a result, are often deprived of our vital life force. This is especially true when we are attempting to learn something new.
When breath is modulated it can exert profound effects on the brain activity and the nervous system, as well as intercede the involuntary ‘trigger-response’ processes of the body such as heart rate, blood pressure, pH and body temperature.
Slow deep breathing coupled with the practice of holding the breath momentarily between breaths has the effect of widening the gap between neural implulses and their responses, thereby reducing brain activity and ‘wiring’ the brain to shift emphasis from the sympathetic stress response, to the parasympathetic relaxation response.
By alternating the breath through both nostrils, the left and right hemispheres of the brain are stimulated equally, resulting in balanced mental activity and achieving optimal brain functioning.
A helpful strategy is to focus on breathing out more fully and prolonging the exhales which help regulate the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide. This calms you down and enables you to perform better when under pressure. An especially useful technique prior to and during exam time! J