Classically in China breath work is considered to be a form of exercise and an aspect of Qigong, one of the main branches of their medical system. It has been used for millennia to aid the healing of disease, for general well being and in the development of mental and emotional clarity. Over the last 30 years breathing has begun to become a significant part of modern medical practice via the mindfulness movement and its application in clinical psychology.
Breathing has been shown to have powerful effects upon and be deeply interlinked with your entire physiological, emotional and mental state. Unlike some breathing techniques such as those used in yoga which involve breath holding the Chinese way involves learning how to breathe with your entire body in a relaxed, circular and continuous manner. These techniques in addition to improving the overall quality of your breathing can help reduce stress, improve blood circulation, increase physical stamina, improve concentration, increase mental clarity and help you cope with difficult emotions.
The most basic aspects of these powerful breathing techniques are very easily learned and I often use them to enhance patient relaxation during treatment sessions.