If you have a painful condition such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or fibromyalgia, you might also experience common symptoms of stress and anxiety. Anxiety is the physical mental and emotional reaction to stress. Both can be calmed through the practice of yoga breathing, also called pranayama.
When anxiety gets out of control, it can disrupt your daily life and your sleep. Yoga breathing can help you regain control. Yoga breathing is a way to recharge your body and mind.
Ancient Indian yogis identified prana, or breath, as the essential differentiator between the living and the dead. According to them, your breath flows through thousands of energy channels, called nadis, and energy centers, called chakras. Regardless of your personal beliefs, one thing is certain: ancient yogis tapped into the internal power of one’s breath.
Focusing on your breath can increase your energy levels, maintain your health and create a calm, stress-free state of mind. Let’s take a look at some different breathing techniques that you can use to calm stress and anxiety in your life.
The first step in calming stress and anxiety through yoga breathing is simply becoming aware of your breath. To start, sit in a comfortable spot, either legs crossed or on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes, take a deep breath in, and pay attention to your breath as it flows into and out from your body.
Try placing your left hand over your belly and your right over your heart. After taking a few deep breaths in and out, breathe normally, and focus on your breath like this with your eyes closed for five minutes.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
When you breathe out of your nose, you most likely only breathe out of one nostril at a time. It varies from person to person, but your body changes which nostril you actually breathe out of at different times.
What’s interesting is that, whichever nostril you are breathing out of might greatly affect your body and brain. For example, breathing out of your right nostril might increase blood levels, according to a study conducted in 1988, while breathing out of your left nostril has the opposite effect. Another study found that you use more oxygen breathing through your right nostril than your left.
Practicing alternate nostril breathing can help to restore balance in your mind and body. To start, sit in a comfortable, upright position. Close your right nostril with your thumb, and breathe in slowly through the left nostril. Then close your left nostril with your index finger and release your right. Exhale slowly through your right nostril. Repeat three times.
The Benefits of Yoga Breathing
Yoga breathing can help you achieve balance in both your body and mind. In fact, researchers have found that regularly practicing yoga breathing can have the following benefits:
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Lower and/or stabilize blood pressure
- Increase energy levels
- Relax muscles
- Decrease feelings of stress and overwhelm