For some people, it’s a tightness in the chest. For others, it’s difficulty breathing, or a feeling of restlessness, or a sense of dread. Whatever your personal symptoms are, anxiety is a problem you’d probably love to get rid of.
Anxiety is a common problem. A number of different solutions exist, ranging from counseling to meditation to aromatherapy. To be honest, most people need more than one tool in their toolbox to deal with anxiety. One of the easiest to use is yoga breathing.
What Is Yoga Breathing?
Controlled breathing in yoga is also known as pranayama, a term that means “to extend the life force.” Controlled breathing is used to help yoga practitioners stay focused, but it has other benefits outside of yoga.
Your body responds to controlled breathing by calming itself down. Your muscles relax, your blood pressure often lowers and your mind settles. That’s what makes controlled breathing so effective for anxiety. It counteracts all the symptoms anxiety is causing in your body.
How Do You Use Yoga Breathing For Anxiety?
The three-part breath is a technique that is easy to remember even when you’re struggling with anxiety.
The three parts of the breath are your chest, abdomen and diaphragm. Your goal is to take in a deep breath that fills all three parts. This helps relieve anxiety in two ways. First, filling your body with air, rather than just taking shallow breaths that only sit in your chest, helps your body to relax. Second, as you’re breathing in and out, you keep your mind focused on your breath. This focus helps ground you in the moment and distracts you from racing thoughts that make your anxiety worse.
It’s a good idea to practice this technique before you need it. Let’s go over the steps of a three-part breath.
- Sit or lay in a comfortable spot.
- Place one hand below your belly button and the other on your rib cage.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose, feeling your abdomen expand. You should feel full but not like you’re straining.
- Breathe out through your nose, feeling your abdomen contract.
- Focus on the sensations of the air moving into your body, filling it, and then gently leaving your body.
If you practice controlled breathing regularly, it can help reduce your anxiety during an attack and even help keep you calmer on a day-to-day basis.