Slow, deep, lower abdominal breathing – for millennia a mainstay of Asian internal cultivation practices – is a powerful tool for healing and transformation. A wide range of emotional and physical problems can be helped by slow breathing and in the clinic it can be easily taught to patients - both while lying on the couch and as home practice. For practitioners it is a tool to deepen into calm, centred and intuitive states that will enhance our interactions with patients. For all of us, the growing understanding of the physiology behind deep breathing offers a wonderful insight into the interplay of yin and yang in every aspect of our lives. This article examines the traditional Chinese medical and self-cultivation perspective on breathing, describes a simple breathing practice suitable for teaching to patients, delves into some of the burgeoning science behind breath regulation, and gives an overview of research on the use of breathing practice for the treatment of mental and physical disorders.
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