Long deep breathing is one of the most important foundational tools within the technology of Kundalini Yoga. This seemingly simple exercise promotes benefits across the physical, mental, and spiritual planes. Long deep breathing is often the first exercise taught to new students of Kundalini Yoga since it is such a fundamental component of yogic science.
Physically, long deep breathing relaxes and calms the body due to its influence on the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the body that allows us to experience calm. This is mainly due to its stimulation of the vagus nerve, a key component of the parasympathetic nervous system, and how it’s activated by slow, deep breathing. This pranayama can also reduce and prevent the build-up of toxins in the lungs by encouraging the small air sacs (known as alveoli) to clear.
A growing body of evidence has shown that many kinds of breathing practices can aid in combating addictions, as well as supporting our capacity to manage stress or negative emotions. On a mental level, long deep breathing triggers the release of endorphins that help fight depression. Since it has a relaxing effect, this pranayama assists in breaking subconscious habit patterns and counteracting anxieties, insecurities, and fears. In turn, it allows for a stronger sense of clarity, cool-headedness, and patience. This may be related to the way in which long deep breathing helps to regulate the body's pH levels.
Scientific research has also begun to discover that mental health may be linked to pH imbalances within the body. Therefore, long deep breathing can allow us to handle stressful situations with more grace and composure.
The spiritual effects of long deep breathing are just as important as its physical and mental benefits; it increases the flow of prana and stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete. In yogic terms, this enhances the intuition. These shifts occur within the limbic system of the body to encourage the secretion of stress-reducing hormones.