Breathing is something that we do all day, every day, typically without thinking. It’s automatic and intuitive and without it, well, we wouldn’t be alive. There are a lot of functions in the body that work without thinking and psychologists have developed an analogy to categorize how our brain processes this type of thinking versus how we process our more pensive, conscious thinking:
System 1 Thinking: automatic, intuitive, quick, emotional, reactive.
System 2 Thinking: conscious, effortful, logical, deliberate.
The brain is not literally divided like this, but psychologists have developed this simple analogy to help us become more aware of how our brain processes different functions in our body. System 1 thinking – for example breathing – happens automatically and requires little mental or physical exertion, while on the other hand system 2 thinking – for example solving a math problem – does require mental and sometimes physical exertion.
Bringing awareness to these two different types of thinking is important to understand the science behind breathing practices. Often known as “Yogic Breathing” or Pranayama, breathing practices become are considered an essential part of Yoga and recent studies on the subject are proving the benefits of these practices on the physiological systems.
In fact, “human respiration is the only physiological system that is under both automatic and voluntary nervous control,” which further explains its importance for both the mind and body.
In essence, the positive physiological effects come from bringing breathing from our our system 1 thinking into our conscious system 2 thinking.
“The effects of yogic breath regulation on modulation of automatic functions (ATF) have been studied extensively,” and conclusions have been made that breathing practices have lasting benefits short-term and long-term benefits on the following:
- Blood Pressure
- Heat Rate/ Heart Rate Variability
- Respiratory Rate
- Galvanic Skin Resistance
- Pulse Rate
Breathing practices have been utilized in Yoga for centuries and new research has shown that yogic breathing practices as a whole are now backed by psychologists and behavioral scientists to have a lot of comprehensible lasting benefits. Learning and incorporating breathing practices into your life is proven to be beneficial to your mind and body, and being aware of how breathing practices affects your wellbeing can bring you one step closer to complete wellness.
At CARAVAN, one of the core practices that we teach is Breathing. In the class called Ocean Breath, CARAVAN teacher Briana demonstrates the practice of Ujjayi Breath, also known as ‘Darth Vader Breath,’ and teaches us more about its benefits on your overall wellbeing.