Breathing is one of those things we often take for granted, I mean, it just happens right? Yet breathing is integral to our survival and is directly linked to our emotions as well as our energy levels.
For example you may have noticed that when you get upset, angry or scared, your breathing becomes more erratic? Often during heightened emotions we unconsciously start taking shorter, shallower and quicker breaths from the chest areas, sometimes even switching to breathe through our mouths. Unfortunately this type of breathing actually stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (the flight or fight response) which only works to enhance the emotions we are experiencing.
When we are at our most relaxed (including sleeping) our breathing is slower, and tends to flow from deep in our bellies. This type of natural deep breathing, most often through the nose, is more effective in engaging the diaphragm, which works to draw the oxygen all the way down into the lower lobes of the lungs. Not only does this support maximum oxygen/carbon dioxide transport, it also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is often referred to as the rest and digest system, but really it just works to calm the body and ground the mind.
The interesting thing is that just as your emotional or energetic state can alter the flow of your breath (and simultaneously affect your autonomic nervous system), so can consciously altering the flow of your breath alter your emotions and energetic state!