When you are anxious, your breathing may be quick and shallow. This does not allow enough oxygen to reach your organs, and it can cause hyperventilation.
Proper breathing techniques can alleviate this condition.
Whenever you feel your anxiety begin to build, practice the deep-breathing exercises.
Our yoga infocenter describes in detail how to conduct proper deep breathing exercises. Two techniques that are particularly effective for anxiety disorders are
alternate nostril breathing and
Ujjayi (Victorious Breath.)
Breathing Exercise for Anxiety
Stand with your feet slightly apart. Let your arms hang at your sides. As you inhale, raise your arms slowly out to the sides, palms up, and over your head. Exhaling, clasp your fingers and turn your palms toward the ceiling or sky. Now inhale again, stretching up and tilting your head slightly back. As you exhale, drop your head down and let your arms slowly return to your sides. Repeat this exercise several times.
This breathing exercise is very useful before an acupressure session or before doing exercises.
Breathing with Muscular Action
This exercise comes from Paul Wilson, author of
'Instant Calm'. The exercise is performed while you are lying flat on your back.
With your palms and outstretched fingers resting on your lower abdomen, distend your stomach muscles so that the entire lower stomach area protrudes.
Suck in your stomach muscles as far as you can. Your chest will rise as a result.
Repeat these steps over and over again until you can perform a rocking motion: lower abdomen, to chest, to lower abdomen, to chest, and so on.
Once you have learned this muscle control, you are ready to regulate your breathing with this muscular action.
Try to make your breathing as smooth and as effortless as possible, with the breath flowing in and out of your lungs in one seemingly endless stream. Try not to hold your breath after inhaling.
Now we will add breathing to synchronize with the
learned muscular motion. Do the following breathing exercises slowly with full awareness.
As you breathe out, feel the tension flood out of your body and into the floor. Feel it flow through your pores; feel it dissolve through the skin of your back at those places where it comes in contact with the floor. Feel your muscles relax as this tension flows out.
According to Wilson, the pattern you are establishing here is the essence of Power Breathing. He recommends that you continue the same muscular action when you are standing. Practice several times a day until you feel comfortable with it.
With practice, this exercise will create a familiarity for you with the sensation of breathing powerfully.
"Apart from its health-giving benefits, the beauty of Power Breathing is that it soothes the nerves and quickly induces a state of peace and calm," according to Wilson.
The Power Breathing Technique
Take in a deep breath through your nostrils. Do this without exertion,
neither raising your shoulders nor puffing out your chest.
Hold it for a second. 'Force' the oxygen into the extremities of your body
such as your hands, feet and skull.
Slowly breathe out, noisily, through your lips.
Repeat a few times -smoothing out the inhalation and exhalation so
that there is one apparently seamless inflow and outflow of air.
As you breathe out, feel the tension melting from your body into the floor. As the breathing becomes more automatic, concentrate on that tension passing from your body, through the soles of your feet (if you're standing), or through the skin of your back (if you're reclining) into the floor.
Breathing techniques will not cure anxiety, but they can help you to relax so that you can then utilize other treatments effectively.
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