The emotions and thoughts of the mind are closely linked to the breath. It’s the universal law of correspondence at work. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali says when you control your breath, you can control your mind and emotions. A recent study conducted by Stanford Scientists confirms this link between the breath and states of being. There is a group of neurons in the brain responsible for the respiratory system which connect breathing to states of mind. This small neuronal subpopulation works as a breathing rhythm generator sending signals directly to the centre of the brain, and subsequently playing a key role in stress, attention and alertness.
This scientific knowledge makes a lot of sense when we correlate it back to our experiences. Shallow, quick or rapid breathing is often a symptom of someone experiencing anxiety or stress. When the mind is calm, the breath follows with an even, slow pace. When someone is angry, their breath can become forceful and rapid, when depressed or despondent – sighing and depletion sets in, and when in pain, people tend to gasp. Of course, there are variations on these experiences, but we do tend to shift the way we breathe as different emotions arise.