Can you reference a time when you felt upset... ever notice the shortness of breath or the heart beating faster within your chest? It's your fight-or-flight response kicking into gear via the sympathetic nervous system which controls your stress response. Shallow and short breathing stimulates your sympathetic nervous system. When a person or animal reacts to a stressful event and has an emotional response (e.g., fear, excitement, anger), breathing patterns tend to reflect how they respond to the stressful event.
When I was younger, I used to hyperventilate whenever I cried. It was something I felt like I couldn't control. I had a shortness of breath because I couldn't help but breath fast. It was like I needed to supply blood to my limbs as fast as possible in order to bolt from the situation as fast as possible, but instead of bolting I'd just continue to cry and hyperventilate in one spot frozen from the stress of the situation. It was horrific.
With yoga and slow, deep breathing associated with the practice, I learn to notice when feelings are becoming too intense because my heart would start to beat in the same manner as it did when I was younger. Before it gets to the point when I become frozen from the stress, I would engage in deep breathing exercises. Slow, deep breathing has been my saving grace because it helps me identify my initial emotional responses and gives me the opportunity to slow down and reflect rather than react.
If this strikes a cord, please like or leave comment below! Confessions of a Light Worker.