In eastern philosophical and esoteric teachings like yoga and tai chi, the breath is referred to as ‘life force’ and is worshipped as the primary vehicle to enlightenment as well as the divine source of conscioussness and energy. To try and understand your life force and possibly even experience it you can practice pranayama. Pranayama translates to PRANA – life force and YAMA – extension, and relates to different types of breathing exercises which are intended to increase your life force. Pranayama is a branch of the yoga tree and is fundamental to experiencing the unification of mind and body. (Which is in fact is what yoga is; the unification of the mind and body using the breath).
In practicing pranayama you learn to extend the length of the breath in a range of different techniques and eventually minimise the amount of breathing you do. The longer and deeper you breathe increases the length and quality of your life.
Pranayama practices have existed for tens of thousands of years and are designed to help you focus the mind long enough to eventually experience altered states of consciousness and deep mediation. It is true that proper breathing will actually help you live longer and feel better but this is just a small part of what really can be achieved with this invisible giant.