Brain Fact #5: Taken for granted: Breathing, Heart rate, and more


Don’t give it a second thought…

Brain Stem

Have you ever thought, “Why do I NOT need to think about breathing – it just happens?”

Basic life functions such as breathing, blood flow and heartbeat are controlled by the brain stem, located at the brain’s base; also known as the Pons (the Medulla) with the lower part being the Medulla Oblongata. The Medulla Oblongata continues on to the Spinal Cord. They have been in the evolution of amphibians, fish, reptiles and mammals, for over 500 million (500,000,000) years.

The autonomic functions regulated there keep your body alive and functioning, even when conditions may temporarily shut down the higher functions located in the larger portion of the brain. The location, between the rest of the brain and the rest of our body, is strategic to maintaining life in the body.

There are many references to you having the ability, or latent ability, to regulate these and other autonomic functions through disciplined and willful thought. As a Yogi can decrease heart rate and breathing, your mind can influence your body to respond both directly and indirectly to be healthful. Your own “Fountain of Youth”.

Shannon Panzo, PhD

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