Breathing Techniques for Anxiety

yoga-422196_1920.jpgBreathing exercises for anxiety can be essential when you find yourself overwhelmed or panicked.  As your anxiety levels increase, your breathing can increase causing you to lower your oxygen intake and thus panic even more.

When we experience shortness of breath when feeling anxious, we usually only fill our upper lungs with oxygen because we breathe in shorter breaths and therefore don’t pass them adequate amount needed. Deep and intentional breathing allows us to fill our entire lungs and benefit from the calming properties that come with it.

Breathing techniques have been used for thousands of years as an anchor point to focus during meditations and calm the mind. Breathing is an auto function built into the human body, but unlike the heart, we can consciously control how we breathe.

Controlling your breathing allows:

  • Your heart rate to slow down
  • A decrease in blood pressure
  • A decrease in muscle tension
  • An increase in focus


Balanced Breathing

This technique uses the same breathing count when inhaling as it does exhaling, and is designed to of course ‘balance your breathing’. This breathing exercise is practiced exclusively through the nose, which forces more control on each breath.

  • Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds
  • Exhale through your nose for 4 seconds


4-7-8 Breathing

This deep breathing exercise uses your stomach as the focus point.

  • Sit down or stand up. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach
  • Take a deep breath in from your stomach, and notice how your stomach feels. Count to 4 as you breathe in
  • Now hold your breath for 7 seconds
  • Breathe out fully whilst counting to 8. Try and breathe out all the way until you reach 8 seconds


Alternate Nostril Breathing

This exercise brings deep relaxation while helping you to feel awake.

  • Sit in a comfortable position
  • Hold your finger over your right nostril
  • Breathe in deeply through your left nostril
  • Once you have inhaled a deep breath, hold your finger over your left nostril
  • Exhale slowly through your right nostril


Simple Slow Breathing 

One minute of simple slow breathing can recalibrate your mind when you are feeling anxious.

  • Sit or stand comfortably and ignore all distractions around you
  • Inhale through your mouth to a count of 10 seconds
  • Now exhale through your mouth to a count of 4 seconds
  • Exhaling, think to yourself “relax”


CO2 Re-Breathing

Rebalances your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels if you’ve been hyperventilating.

  • Cup your hands over your mouth or use a paper bag. Breathe into your hands or the bag slowly
  • Breathe normally and deeply
  • Repeat for 5 to 10 breaths


Advanced Inhale-Hold-Exhale Deep Breathing

One of the best breathing exercises for anxiety or panic attacks.

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can sit in a meditative pose comfortably for 15-20 minutes
  • Repeat this three-stage pattern for 10 breath cycles
    • First, inhale and count 5 heartbeats
    • Second, hold breath and count 7 heartbeats
    • Third, exhale and count 9 heartbeats


Sama Vritti “Equal Breathing”

 Equal breathing works to interrupt your minds racing thoughts.

  • Find a comfortable position
  • Inhale and exhale on a count of 4 through your nose
  • Repeat for 10 breaths or more
  • When you’re comfortable, you can extend the counts to 6 or 8 seconds per inhale/exhale


Progressive Relaxation

Helps break up the tension in your body and refocus your energy.

  • Sit in a comfortable, relaxed position
  • Close your eyes, and tense each muscle group from your toes up to your head. Take deep, slow breaths as you tense and relax your muscles
  • Start with your toes and feet, then knees, thighs, and glutes, then chest, arms, hands, and finally neck, jaw, and eyes
  • Breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for 5 seconds while you tense each muscle group, then breathe out through your mouth while you relax the muscles


Kapalabhati “Skull Shining Breath”

  • Find a comfortable position
  • Start with a long, slow inhale with a quick powerful exhale from your belly, keeping your inhalation four times as long as your exhalation


4-4-4-4 Breathing 

  • Breathe in while counting to 4. Make it a deep belly breath
  • Hold your breath while counting to 4
  • Breathe out while counting to 4
  • Hold your breath while counting to 4
  • Do this sequence 2 more times


The Sigh

  • Breathe in
  • When you breathe out, open your mouth and let the air out so you hear the sound of the air releasing a soft sigh sound
  • As you let the air out, relax your shoulders, neck and other muscles and let go, like you’re melting


Buteyko Small Breathing Holds

  •  With your mouth closed, take a small but calm and relaxed breath in
  • Take a small breath out
  • Hold your nose closed with your hand
  • Hold for a count of 5
  • Release
  • Gentle, soft breathing in between sets
  • Tongue rests at the roof of the mouth; teeth slightly apart; jaw relaxed; drop shoulders; relax chest and belly; relax facial muscles


The Complete Breath

  • First, inhale completely at the abdomen
  • Continue to inhale by filling in the mid-section, the area of the diaphragm
  • Continue to inhale by filling the chest, allowing the upper chest and shoulders to rise
  • Systematically release and empty from the upper portion than the mid-section, and finally empty completely at the abdomen


Belly Breathing

  • Either in a sitting or lying position, place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Take a deep breath of air, and try to have your belly move more than your chest. Feel your belly rise as your lungs fill with air
  • Practice breathing in slowly through your nose to a count of 4, and exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of 4.

Download  Breathing exercises for anxiety




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