Mind-body therapies have been shown to be effective in clinical treatment of disorders such as high blood pressure and stress. Significant differences in the effectiveness of mind–body therapies have been shown and a common link among the therapies has yet to be defined. This article overviews the role of slow rhythmic breathing in physiological as well as therapeutic effects of mind-body therapies. Slow deep breathing practice has important implications as it may underlie the basic mechanism that synchronizes the brain with the autonomic response. This article reviews studies that include the effect of deep slow breathing with or without mind-body therapy exercises. In utero studies that monitor patterns of fetal breathing reveal sympathetic activation with irregular, shallow fast breathing movements compared to slow deep breathing. Recognition of respiratory mechanisms in mind-body therapies can lead to development of more effective relaxation exercises that may incorporate deep slow breathing in clinical applications.
Keywords breathing  meditation  hypertension  stress
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