People often fail to realize the impact and control we have on our physiological selves by using our sacred breath. Other than the mind, breath is one of our main tools that we have to help us relax and remain calm (among other benefits).
Examples of breath work in yoga are: letting the exhale become longer than the inhale – helps with anxiety, letting the inhale become longer than the exhale – helps with depression. There is the Bellows breath which helps produce heat, alternate nostril breathing which clears out the sinuses, and the Ujjayi breath, which is energizing, warming and helps the throat. There is even an anchored breath, which helps us relax and become grounded. That anchored breath is also helpful in a stressful situation where it is most beneficial to become relaxed and make better decisions.
The 3-part breath (Viloma Pranayama), or belly breathing, not only helps to bring more oxygen into the whole body, but is also most beneficial in our body’s healing process. It slows us down and helps get us away from that fight or flight syndrome, which is the reason we have stored tension in the body, where we hold passed trauma, and which can cause disease and other issues. The body can only heal itself by reducing the breath count to less than 15 breathes per minute.
So, of the many types of breathing techniques, people in the yoga practice realize the benefits it has on the physiological self, which is why it (Pranayama) is one of the 8 limbs of yoga where we often take some focus during yoga class.