Breathing Techniques to Help you Battle Anxiety
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Breathing techniques are otherwise also known as “Pranayama” is a process of regulating your breath. It is an act of controlling life by modifying prana (breath) within the body. Breathing exercise when practised on a daily basis, can influence the physiological and psychological systems of the body.
Breathing Techniques that can Help You Battle Anxiety
Anxiety is a mental health disorder where the person suffering from it experiences feelings of worry, fear or anxiety – all of which can interfere with the person’s daily life activities. Research has shown that the autonomic nervous system, especially the sympathetic nervous system, is involved in producing anxiety like symptoms.
Breathing exercises can help you regulate your anxiety levels with a minimum effort. It promotes physical well being while keeping your mind and body calm, lucid and steady. Let’s see the impact of breathing exercise on the nervous system and how it helps in battling anxiety.
Flushes out toxins: Breathing exercises can help you flush out the harmful toxins from your body and cleanses it from within by enriching the tissues and cells with oxygen . Thus, provides various mental and physical health benefits.
Improves concentration and focus: Performing breathing techniques for anxiety stimulates the mechanoreceptors in the olfactory epithelium. This promotes various neurophysiological mechanisms in the brain including the autonomic and neuroendocrine systems. Thus, it helps enhance the ability to concentrate.
Fights anxiety: Anxiety and stress are precursors to various physiological responses in our body that occur due to increased sympathetic firing. Nose breathing exercises alter the process of information and reorganize the neural representation within the central nervous system. It also induces antioxidant effects and protects the brain cells from oxidative damage, thus reducing the anxiety levels and promoting normal functioning of the body.
Protects against neurodegeneration: Diaphragmatic breathing influences the autonomic nervous system. It can directly influence the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity and may decrease the neurotransmitters causing neurodegeneration or other illness.
Now, we discuss some of the breathing techniques to help you battle your anxiety levels:
1. Bhastrika Pranayama (The Bellow’s Breath)
Bhastrika Pranayam, Credits: Pixabay
Bhastrika pranayama is one of those energetic breathing techniques which involves heavy breathing through the nostrils. Based on the frequency & rate of breathing, it is categorized into 3 types: fast pace Bhastrika, Medium Pace Bhastrika, and Slow pace Bhastrika.
Sit in a meditative posture/ padmasana
Take a deep breath, hold it and slowly release by counting till five.
Repeat this technique by inhaling and exhaling with force.
Benefits: Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, calms the mind, relaxes the body, promotes good sleep and brings focused attention.
2. Anulom-Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Anulom- Vilom Pranayama, Credits: Pixabay
Anulom Vilom pranayama or alternate-nostril breathing is the most common yogic breathing practice that requires inhalation and exhalation through alternate nostrils.
Sit in a meditative posture
Breath in through the left nostril by closing the right nostril with the right thumb.
Thereafter repeat the same procedure with the right nostril.
The alternate inhalation and exhalation performed two times make for one cycle of Anulom-Vilom.
Help regenerate the dead cells, strengthens the nervous system, improves concentration and relieves stress, anxiety, depression and hypertension.
3. Bhrāmarī Prāṇāyāma (Humming Bee Breath)
Brahmari Pranayama, Credits: Pixabay
Bhrāmarī prāṇāyāma is an inhalation technique which while practising produces a buzzing sound.
Sit in lotus pose
Inhale deeply through both your nostrils, and exhale while producing a humming sound of a bee.
There is another version of it, where you close the eyes with the help of index fingers, while your middle fingers are placed on the sides of the nose, ring and small fingers on the mouth and thumbs on the ears. This pose is referred to as Śanmukhi Mudrā.
Five minutes of Bhrāmarī Prāṇāyāma influence parasympathetic dominance. It also helps release stress, alleviates anger, anxiety, and hyperactivity. The humming sound creates a tranquilising effect and provides a soothing effect on the brain.
4. Sukha Prāṇāyāma
Sukha Pranayama, Credits: pixabay
Sukha Prāṇāyāma is one of the simplest of all yogic breathing techniques. The name is because it provides sukha, which means comfort and lightness, and sthira, which promotes steady and alertness.
Sit in a cross-legged position with your spine erect.
Rest your hands on your legs.
Take a deep breath and slowly exhale
Repeat the procedure with an equal duration of inhalation and exhalation at the rate of 6 breaths/minute.
Sukhasana is a conscious breathing technique which controls your mind and calms it, helps reduce anxiety, stress and mental tiredness.
5. Mukha Bhastrikā
Mukha Bhastrika, Credits: Pixabay
Mukha bhastrika Pranayama is a variation of Bhastrika pranayama.
Sit in a meditative posture
Inhale and exhale quickly ten times with a hissing sound.
After 10 breaths, the final breath should be followed by the deepest possible inhalation
Hold your breath as long as you can
Release your breath very slowly.
Mukha Bhastrika helps increase the parasympathetic activity and reduce sympathetic activity, thus helping reduce anxiety and stress levels. When practised for longer periods produces a beneficial effect on the heart and its function.