Pranayama is one of the most natural and effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety. It is quite helpful in yoga, mindfulness practices and meditation. Breathing is very important in calming the mind and body so Pranayama is quite useful for people having anxiety. Deep and calm breathing is necessary for the body as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which has a ‘rest and digest’ response. Yoga breathing exercises help in relaxation and dealing with stress and anxiety attacks.
The best yoga breathing exercises for anxiety are Sama Vrtti Pranayama, Dirga Swasam Pranayama, Ujjayi Pranayama, Nadi Sodhana Pranayama and Sitali/Sitkari Pranayama.
Before we discuss each exercise, it’s important to understand how they help reduce anxiety and calm the body and mind. While breathing, our blood cells receive oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. People suffering from anxiety take rapid breaths from the chest which is thoracic breathing i.e. chest breathing.
This disrupts oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body which results in dizziness, muscle tension and increased heart rate. This helps in contributing to anxiety or panic attacks by signaling a stress response. Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing are when takes deep and even breaths. This type of breathing pattern is common in people who are in a relaxed state. Exhaling, inhaling and breath retention are three phases of pranayama exercises.
Yoga Breathing Exercises For Anxiety Helps Deactivate Stress Response
Emotions and thoughts are important in influencing breathing rhythm. For example, when one is engaged in pleasant conversation, the breath is slower and longer. Hence it can influence the mental and emotional state. Deep controlled breathing is quite helpful in sending signals to the body and deactivates your stress response. It soothes the nervous system and helps the brain to activate parts of calming and relaxing.
According to science, a regular and consistent yoga practice helps in anxiety disorders and chronic stress. Anxiety is basically the physical, mental and emotional reaction to stress. It can be calm down with the help of yoga breathing called pranayama. Yoga helps in regaining control when there is anxiety and stress. It is advisable to do yoga everyday at least for 15 minutes as it has lot of health benefits.
The 5 Best Yoga Breathing Exercises For Anxiety
1) Sama Vrtti Pranayama (Box Breathing)
Sama Vrtti Pranayama is done by seating in a comfortable position and inhaling through the nose counting until three and exhaling through the nose counting until four. Repeat this for a full round of 10. This is called box breathing. It’s a simple and basic form of conscious breath work and is quite effective for relieving anxiety. This form of pranayama for anxiety is popular and is incredible calming and easy to do.
2) Dirga Swasam Pranayama (Complete Breath)
Dirga Swasam Pranayama is a three part breath which is an easy and accessible form of pranayama for anxiety. It focuses on the three parts of the body that are abdomen, diaphragm, and upper chest. To begin, bring one hand to the lower belly and placing the other over the heart. Then the breathing should be done in such a way that it brings awareness to the belly, ribs and chest, while inhaling one must visualize the oxygen filling the abdomen, lungs and collarbones and while exhaling one must visualize the oxygen slowly leaving from the top down. This should continue till 10 rounds. It helps in boosting the oxygen supply in the body which decreases stress and anxiety. It is a great form of breath work in calming the mind.
3) Sitali/Sitkari Pranayama(the cooling effect)
Sitali Pranayama is also known as “the cooling breath” because the act of drawing the air across the tongue and into the mouth is said to have a cooling and calming effect on the nervous system. If one wants to practice Sitali, then one needs to be able to curl the sides of the tongue inward so that it looks like a straw. It helps in improving focus and reducing anger and anxiety. Sitali and Sitkari Pranayama helps when one is feeling drowsy in the morning or during an afternoon when one needs to improve your focus.
To perform Sitkari pranayama, open the mouth slightly with the tongue behind the teeth. Inhale slowly through the space between the upper and lower teeth, letting the air wash over the tongue. At the end of the inhalation, one should close the mouth and exhale through the nostrils. This helps in reducing insomnia and anxiety.
4) Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath)
Ujjayi Pranayama is a fun and effective form of Pranayama which helps in anxiety and also mental focus. Ujjayi Pranayama is also called Ocean Breath because the breath sounds like ocean waves. This sound comes from the constriction in the back of the throat. This is done by breathing in through the nose while maintaining the constriction and exhaling out of the mouth while pretending like one is fogging up a mirror. Continue this breathing for 10 rounds.
5) Nadi Sodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Nadi Sodhana Pranayama is done by sitting in a cross legged position comfortably. Then using the right hand, one should close the right side of the nose while inhaling deeply with the left nostril. This procedure must be repeated with the right nostril as well.. This technique helps in purifying the energy channels of the body. Due to alternate nostril breathing, it brings balance to the mind, body and soul of the human body. This type of technique is said to be innovative and it also helps in stress and anxiety. Nadi Sodhana Pranayama is also called as Alternate Nostril Breathing. Though it is one of the most complicated, it is still the most effective forms of Pranayama for anxiety relief.
This breathing technique stimulates both sides of the brain and steadies the mind as it has the calming effects. It helps in balancing the two brain hemispheres. By sitting cross-legged on the yoga mat and performing inhalations and exhalations, one experiences relaxation.
Yoga Breathing Exercises For Anxiety Also Have Physical Benefits
These are the 5 best yoga breathing exercises for anxiety. Yoga breathing exercises helps in achieving balance in both the body and mind. According to the researchers, practicing breathing exercises regularly have various benefits. They help in balancing the physical and mental aspect of the body. Additionally, these exercises help reduce anxiety and depression and also help stabilize blood pressure.
These breathing exercises help increase energy levels, relaxing muscles and reducing feelings of stress. To combating stress and anxiety, practice theses yoga breathing exercises daily. They will also increase overall calmness. Deep breathing exercise increases the supply of the oxygen to the brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system that helps in promoting a state of calmness. Deep breathing exercises calm the mind and relaxes the body. It is one of the best ways to lower the stress in the body. When a person breathes deeply, it sends down the message to the brain to calm down and relax. It also helps in lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
Deep breathing exercises not only reduces stress levels in the body and depression but also helps in regulating the body’s reaction to stress and fatigue. It improves the diabetic symptoms and manages chronic pain. In modern science, psychologists using the power of breathing techniques which helps in consciousness research, transpersonal psychology and spiritual practices. These breathing exercises don’t require any special equipment and can be done anywhere. Pranayama breathing is a cleansing breath method which has the power to clean 72,000 channels in the body. This breathing technique cleans the blood and the respiratory system. In this way good, clean oxygen travels to the heart and brain.
Slower Heart Rate, Lower Cortisol Levels, and More Oxygen
Mindful breathing and mantra breathing are very important for meditation. Lots of experts and psychologists believe that breathing exercises allow the body to take in oxygen by slowing down the heart rate and signaling the brain to wind down. It also balances the hormones by lowering cortisol levels and increasing endorphins in the body. The muscles get tightened and breathing becomes shallow when a person is angry or scared. This restricts breathing. At this time, the body doesn’t get sufficient oxygen which it requires.
Breathing exercises reverse this process which allows the body to become calmer. In this way, breathing exercises are the most effective as a treatment in cognitive behavioral therapy or hypnotherapy. This therapy is of great help to the person coping with anxiety or other matters of mental health.