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Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

Bidisha Mukherjee
Breathing exercises are the best to control a restless and anxious mind. This story discusses a few of them to deal with anxiety.
Anxiety may be defined as an emotional state, wherein the body reacts to the mental stress. Sometimes, it helps you deal with stressful situations and brings out your best performances; however, it may become an alarming condition if it goes beyond your control and starts disrupting your daily life.
This is because, in such a situation, anxiety may lead to depression, fatigue, sleep deprivation or some illness. When you are anxious, you start breathing very fast. As a result your heart rate increases abnormally. Therefore, it is necessary to normalize the rate of heartbeat to overcome the anxiety, and it is achieved with the help of breathing exercises.
These exercises often yield the benefits of meditation since you focus on the process of breathing. Following are some effective exercises which you may perform at home.

Exercise #1

  • Stand straight, keeping your feet shoulder width apart. Maintain a normal comfortable position of your body.
  • Concentrate on your breathing. When you inhale, slowly raise your hands over your head with your palms in the upward position.
  • Hold your breath, and your arms in the raised position for a few seconds.
  • Now exhale and slowly bring your arms down.
  • Repeat this till you start feeling a calming effect within you.

Exercise #2

When you breathe normally, the lungs and diaphragm expand during inhalation. On the other hand, when you are anxious, you take shallow breaths. With the help of this exercise, you may slow down your breathing and bring it back to normal.
  • Sit straight on a chair.
  • Put one hand on the chest and the other one on the stomach.
  • Close your eyes, and focus on the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe. You may feel the air entering your lungs and coming out.
  • Perform this for at least five minutes, or until you feel relaxed.

Exercise #3

When you feel that the anxiety is taking a toll on your health and mind, then you should practice this form of exercise daily.
  • Lie down on the floor with your arms and legs comfortably stretched.
  • As you inhale, let your abdominal muscles swell up like a balloon. Hold the stomach in the expanded condition for a few seconds.
  • Now exhale and suck the muscles inward as much as you can. Hold this position of deflated stomach for a few seconds.
  • Repeat this a number of times. The coordination between the movement of the abdominal muscles and breathing promotes oxygen supply to the muscles, and thereby it leads to relaxation.

Exercise #4

This is one of the most common form of yoga exercises.
  • Sit comfortably in an upright position.
  • Bring your right hand near the nose. Now, place your ring and pinky finger on the left nostril and the thumb on your right nostril.
  • First of all, close your right nostril with the help of your right thumb and breathe in with the left nostril till you finish counting up to 4.
  • Then close the left nostril with the ring finger and remove the thumb from the right nostril and exhale through it.
  • Similarly, in the next step, inhale with the right nostril and exhale with the left nostril.
  • Continue this as long as you feel comfortable.
There are several advantages of the aforementioned breathing exercises. They help cure anxiety by calming down your agitated mind and body. They also have a healing effect on the nervous system and improve the functioning of your brain.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a yoga practitioner.