3 Pranayama Breathwork Practices For Anxiety & Stress

Do you ever take notice of your breath throughout the day? For those of us who struggle with anxiety and regulating our fight or flight response – this is life changing!

For most of us, our breathing tends to be erratic and shallow, with different situations affecting our breath patterns. High pressure situations will tend to speed up your breath. 

Different mental states are connected to their own breathing patterns.

In breathing purposefully and with mindful intention, we can induce stillness and clarity to the mind and begin to direct our energy in a desired manner. 

All the body systems are interconnected in a divinely complex way we are just beginning to grasp.

Pranayama is a Sanskrit word meaning extension of the prana, or the practice of breath control. This is an essential yogic practice that originates from ancient India.

Pranayama (breathwork) is a practice that is built over time with patience and understanding. 

Life stressors active the sympathetic nervous system – the fight, flight, freeze response. This is our bodies’ way of coping with stress. 

We can activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest response) by tapping into diaphragmatic breathing. 

The vagus nerve is the main influencer of the PNS and manages the nervous system response and reduces the heart rate. 

When we activate the vagus nerve through conscious breath – a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine is released, which lowers anxiety and increases focus and calmness. 

The more you are able to stimulate the vagus nerve, the more acetylcholine is released, and the greater effect it has on reducing anxiety. 

So, in other words, through consciously breathing – we can drastically improve our ability to cope with anxiety. How wild is that?!

Here are my top 3 favorite breathwork techniques:

🔥Belly Breathing – breathing deeply into the belly first, and then expanding the upper lungs outward and upward.

✅If you’re a beginner to conscious breathing, it can help to lay on your back and place a hand on your belly. As you breath, focus on pushing your hand up. 

🔥4-7-8 Breathing – inhale fully for a count of 4, hold the breath for 7, exhale slowly for 8

✅This technique is akin to a nervous system reset and is particularly useful in lowering anxiety, managing anger responses, and falling asleep quicker.

🔥Ujjayi (Ocean) Breathing – with a gentle restriction at the back of the throat, inhale fully and exhale completely through the nose, creating an ocean wave-like sound

✅It helps to imagine fogging up a bathroom mirror with the breath but with the lips closed. This will create that restriction at the back of the throat.

✅As you go deeper into the breathwork practice, see if you can draw out the breath to be longer and slower with each cycle. 

👉🏻For more info on pranayama, comment “YES” on this post. 

TLDR; Breathing cures anxiety, cuz science. 

Breathe easy, my friends! 

#mentalhealthawarenessmonth2021

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