The breath in itself is yoga. When you focus your attention on your breath you are forced to be in the present moment. Your mind is clear, at ease and alert. Of course you can’t just sit around and focus on your breath all day, but you can use the awareness of your breath as a reminder to give the task in front of you (whether for pleasure or work) 100% of your attention regardless of the circumstances. Yoga teaches those who practice, to cultivate awareness and to live in the present moment by focusing on the breath while moving mindfully through poses or your daily life. Practice makes progress.
The diaphragm is the main muscle of respiration and plays a critical role in the breathing process. The diaphragm is a sheet of internal skeletal muscle that extends across the top of the ribcage dividing the thoracic cavity (containing the heart and the lungs) from the abdominal cavity. When you inhale, your diaphragm moves down the abdominal cavity allowing for more room for air in the thoracic cavity, expanding the lungs and drawing the breath down into the belly. As the diaphragm lowers down, it massages your liver and helps detoxify your body by gathering and sending the toxins to the kidneys and livers to filter out of the body. As you exhale, your diaphragm rises back up into its dome-like shaped, pushing the air out of your lungs and through your nose.
An incredible 70% of waste product is removed from the body through the breath, 20% by the skin, and only 7% urine and 3% feces! As you inhale through your nose, your turbinates circulate and filter the air preventing dust and pollutants from reaching the lungs. The cilia (lining of the nasal cavity) moves the mucous blanket toward the back of the throat, carrying the toxins and particles away from the nose. As you exhale, the waste product of the breath, carbon dioxide, is pushed out of the body through the nose.
When you are stressed from work or personal life, your breath becomes shallow. When your breath is shallow, you are breathing into the upper chest instead of the belly; preventing the diaphragm from lowering all the way down. This effects the body negatively in several ways. First, your diaphragm is no longer lowering down to its fully capacity, so your liver isn’t being massaged as deeply, therefore your body is no longer detoxifying and releasing toxins efficiently. That’s why in Chinese medicine they say stress goes to the liver. By breathing deeply you detoxify your liver, detoxifying your body. Secondly, to help compensate for a tighter thoracic cavity, your neck muscles help the upper tops of the lungs to breathe resulting in stress and discomfort in your neck.
A great pose to practice diaphragm breathing and help reduce stress and anxiety is crocodile pose. To get into crocodile, lay on your stomach and stack your forearms on top of one another, resting your forehead on your wrist. Take your legs shoulder-width apart and allow your feet to point out to the sides, pressing the insides of your feet into your mat creating anchors. On your next inhalation, breathe in through your nose and notice where your attention goes. When you extend your arms up overhead, you restrict the movement in the chest, drawing the breath down into your belly. Feel your breath press your belly against the floor, creating space and releasing tension in your lower back. On your exhale, feel your naval draw in towards your spine. Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths and then repeat on other side, stacking the other forearm on top.
Five Reasons to Breathe Deep
Deep Breathing helps burn calories by oxygenating the blood. A California study found that women burned 140 percent more calories with 15 minutes of deep breathing exercises than by riding a stationary bike.
Breathing is the only autonomous system of the body that you can also control. This means that the body governs it but you can change how you breathe through conscious breathing practices such as pranayama.
Deep Breathing strengthens weak abdominal and intestinal muscles 
Your breath is an indicator of your mood and your mood is an indicator of your breath. This means that if you change how you breathe, you can change your mood. It also means that when your mood changes so does your breath.
Deep Breathing relieves pain. When you feel pain, breathe into your pain to help release it instead of resisting the pain by holding your breath. Deep breathing releases endorphins, your body’s natural feel good pain killers, relieving pain.