Young woman relaxed and happy

Anxiety and the Breath

January 19, 2020

Anxiety and the Breath

Breathing is 100% natural and completely free, so why not take a moment to just let it flow and see what happens?

Just breathing, watching your breath and connecting to a smooth steady flow is extremely beneficial. Keeping the practise simple and not over thinking is the key to using the breath for relaxation.

Anxiety for some, can be completely debilitating and it is often overlooked. However, it is a very real condition that can have such a negative impact on so many aspects of life.

Once anxiety sets in breaking the cycle can be a challenge.

Begin each day as a new day.

Set yourself the simple goal of sitting or lying quietly in a warm and comfortable space a few times a day and taking a moment to breathe slowly and completely, do not over think the process or try too hard, just let your breath flow smooth and steady.

Overtime awareness naturally develops as to how the speed of your breathing influences your mood, you might find that with regular practise you naturally slow your breath down before anxiety sets in.

The breath has the ability to relax and calm both body and mind, it is free and 100% natural, the key is to not over thinking the techniques. Once you have the basics mastered you can add different breathing practices known as pranyamas or expand the practise or learn to meditate, a smooth steady flow of breath is the foundation required.

Breathing techniques performed during the day can be just 5 – 15 minutes long, by doing these exercises throughout the day you are training your mind and teaching yourself valuable relaxation tools. Your ability to relax will become easier and relaxation will begin to filter into your life making it easier to relax as anxiety strikes.

How to do this… lie somewhere comfortable, bend your knees, rest your hands lightly on your tummy and breathe slowly. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth to start with (you can also breathe in and out through your nose if you prefer). The main thing is, is that you are gradually without force allowing the breath to slow down. Breathe slowly, comfortably and completely, notice your tummy lift as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Focus on your breath and notice how the body softens as you exhale. Practise this technique as often as you can, do not complicate anything or try to achieve too much.

The technique is as simple as it sounds, just let the breath flow freely and smoothly without force, gradually the breath lengthens, there is no real effort required. 

During the day if you have a few minutes of peace and quiet sit somewhere comfortable and focus on your slow breathing, notice how the body softens as you exhale.

When it comes to the evening take a few moments to repeat the lying down relaxation and at bedtime do the same but in your bed, focus on your breathing and on your body becoming heavier and relaxing as you exhale.

Try not to over complicate the technique, it is really just a case of being comfortable, breathing slowly and letting the exhalation carry you into relaxation. Often we try too hard to relax and then it is impossible.

Always seek medical advice before beginning any new exercise routine and remember to choose your location for these techniques responsibly.

This blog article was written by Sue Fuller creator of the Yoga 2 Hear range of audio yoga classes and yoga teacher training courses.