By now, you know the importance of relaxation in this fast-paced world. The next time you pause to practice deep breathing techniques and slowly count to 10, observe whether you can actually feel your heart rate slow down. Functions like heart rate and blood pressure are regulated by the autonomic nervous system. And people who consistently practice slow, deep breathing techniques can improve the efficiency of this system, according to an article published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (2004; 120 [2], 115–21).

Researchers at the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in Pondicherry, India, performed autonomic function tests on male volunteers aged 17–19 after they performed rapid and slow breathing exercises. After 3 months of practice, participants who performed slow, deep breathing techniques showed improved functioning of their autonomic nervous systems. In contrast, subjects who performed fast breathing exercises showed no similar improvement.