Practicing pranayama—the Sanskrit word for breath control—can help you balance your energy, calm your nervous system, and encourage a meditative state. There are three main types of breathing techniques you can explore in your yoga practice —and each one has a different purpose.
“Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.” — TIRUMALAI KRISHNAMACHARYA
Also Read: Making Yoga Accessible— For Everyone
I. Three Main Types of Breathing Techniques for Anxiety
Breathing Techniques: #1 Nadi shodhana pranayama
Nadi shodhana—also known as the alternate nostril breath—is a technique you can perform before or after practicing yoga. It brings balance to both sides of your body, helping reduce stress and anxiety, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relieve tension, and revitalize a tired mind and body.
Follow these steps to perform Nadi shodhana:
- Sit on the mat or a meditation cushion in a comfortable cross-legged position, with your hands resting on your thighs or relaxed at your sides.
- Bend the index and middle fingers of your right hand toward your right palm and press your right thumb against your right nostril to seal it.
- Deeply inhale through your left nostril.
- Seal off your left nostril with your right ring finger and release your right nostril.
- Deeply exhale through your right nostril.
- Deeply inhale through your right nostril.
- Seal off your right nostril with your right thumb and release your left nostril.
- Deeply exhale through your left nostril. This completes one round of breathing. Repeat these steps for 1 minute or for as long as desired.
Breathing Techniques: #2 Ujjayi pranayama
Ujjayi—also known as victory breath or ocean breath—is the most common breathing technique used during a yoga practice. It can add texture and dimension to your breathing pattern, and it heats the body from within and draws life energy upward.
Follow these steps to perform ujjayi:
- With your mouth closed, inhale a long breath through your nose, gently constrict the back of your throat, and make a subtle haaah or ahhhh sound.
- Continue to keep your mouth closed as you exhale a long breath through your nose, continuing to constrict the back of your throat.
- Repeat these steps throughout each pose.
Breathing Techniques: #3 Sama vritti pranayama
Sama vritti—also known as square breathing—is an excellent technique for helping relieve stress and reduce anxiety. This method helps refocus your thoughts and bring peace of mind and calm to your entire body. Because of its simplicity, this technique also helps create more space for relaxation in a busy schedule. You can perform this before, during, or after a yoga practice.
Follow these steps to perform sama vritti:
- Deeply inhale for a count of 4 and hold this inhalation for another count of 4. As you inhale, imagine your breath following each side of a square.
- Deeply exhale for a count of 4 and hold this exhalation for another count of 4. As you exhale, imagine your breath following each side of a square.
- Repeat these steps for as long as desired, or repeat these steps throughout each pose.
Related: The Benefits of Yoga
1. Breathing Techniques or Exercises for Anxiety?
Simple Breathing Techniques are as follows:
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly but keep your jaw relaxed.
- Repeat this breathing technique. Do it for several minutes until you start to feel better.
2. How to Increase Lung Capacity?
To keep your lungs healthy, do the following:
- Stop smoking, and avoid second-hand smoke or environmental irritants.
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants.
- Get vaccinations like the flu vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine.
- Exercise more frequently, which can help your lungs function properly.
- Improve indoor air quality.
3. How to Breathe Properly?
Proper breathing starts in the nose and then moves to the stomach as your diaphragm contracts, the belly expands, and your lungs fill with air. “It is the most efficient way to breathe, as it pulls down on the lungs, creating negative pressure in the chest, resulting in the air flowing into your lungs.”
Source: Tech Insider
4. Relaxation Breathing?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. This breathing technique or pattern aims to reduce anxiety or help people get to sleep. Some proponents claim that the method helps people get to sleep in 1 minute.
5. Exercises to Relax?
5 Breathing Techniques to Relax Your Mind
- Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing. This exercise is brilliant if you’re feeling worried or you need an energy boost.
- Sama Vritti or Equal Breathing.
- Complete Belly Breath.
- Ujjayi or Ocean Breath.
- Mindful Breathing.
To read more about mindfulness practices, click here.
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