Meditation and ancient yoga breathing exercises like pranayama, may act like a brain fertilizer, and improves our ability to focus on tasks, according to a study. A group of researchers at the Trinity College Dublin,  Ireland explained the neurophysiological link between attention and breathing.
How Pranayama Changes Your Brain?
The study published in Psychophysiology,  revealed that breathing, which is the main element of mindfulness practices and meditation, affects the levels of noradrenaline, a chemical messenger in the brain.
Noradrenaline is released when we are curious, challenged, exercised, focused, or emotionally excited. If this chemical is produced at the normal levels, it helps the brain grow more brain cells, and thus acts like a brain fertilizer.
Yogis and Buddhist practitioners consider breath an effective element of meditation, according to Ian Robertson of Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity College Dublin.
Pranayama Breathing Helps Improve Focus
Robertson says that the practice of observing the breath and regulating it, is known as pranayama. It brings changes in attention, arousal, and emotional control which can be of great help to the meditator.
The study found that there is much evidence to support the view that there is a strong link between a steadiness of mind and breath-centered practices.
The study also found that participants who could focus well while doing a task that required a lot of attention had more synchronization between their attention and breathing patterns, than the participants who had poor focus.
The researchers believed that it could be possible to perform breath-control practices to stabilize attention and promote brain health. Yoga experts claim that respiration can influence the mind, according to Michael Melnychuk, a researcher at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. In the study, the researchers studied neurophysiological link which may help explain the claims by evaluating reaction time, brain activity and breathing in locus coeruleus, a small area in brainstem, where noradrenaline is produced. Noradrenaline acts as an all-purpose action system in brain. When we are under too much stress, we produce more noradrenaline and we cannot focus.
When we feel slow, we produce less noradrenaline and again, we are not able to focus. There is a spot of noradrenaline in which our thinking, emotions, and memory are much clearer. This study has revealed that as you breathe in, locus coeruleus activity increases slightly, and as you breathe out, it decreases. This means that our attention up to some extent is influenced by breath and it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration. Thus, Pranayam acts like a brain fertilizer and can improve the health of your brain. So, you should practice this breathing exercise daily to get its benefits.