Simply put, taking some slow inhales and even slower exhales will at the very least calm you down, and at best, help reduce the body's biological markers for inflammation response. Which means, less pain, less stress, less illness.
"Healthy vagal tone is indicated by a slight increase of heart rate when you inhale, and a decrease of heart rate when you exhale. Deep diaphragmatic breathing—with a long, slow exhale—is key to stimulating the vagus nerve and slowing heart rate and blood pressure, especially in times of performance anxiety."
Breathing with focused aware (mindful) inhales and consciously slowed exhales will help realign your mind body connection, bringing you into the "yogic" place. By paying attention to the breath, you are giving your body, via vagus nerve stimulation AND being present, the opportunity to calm. With calm comes relaxation, with relaxation comes restoration.
"Recently, an international team of researchers from Amsterdam and the United States conducted a clinical trial which demonstrates that stimulating the vagus nerve with a small implanted device significantly reduced inflammation and improved outcomes for patients with rheumatoid arthritis by inhibiting cytokine production."
You read that right. Increasing vagal tone was found to create improved QOL for patients with an autoimmune condition. Cytokenes are the nasty particles that start the inflammatory response. Vagus nerve stimulation reduced the level of these chemicals in the body.
But I don't do the article justice by cutting and pasting. I know how great deep rhythmic pranayama (breathing exercises) feel. But to read that there is scientific proof to WHY the body feels better after a breathwork session, well that satisfies both sides of my brain, and my entire being as well. Thanks for reading, and much healing to all.
Read the complete article here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201607/vagus-nerve-stimulation-dramatically-reduces-inflammation
UPDATE: another article this time from neuroscience news (thank you Amy Wheeler for the references) says
Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.Read that whole article here: http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-fear-breathing-5699/