The holidays are fast approaching, and it’s not uncommon that we find ourselves adding to our already long ‘to do’ lists—also known as piling on the stress. This year be kind to yourself and add the gift of breath work to your life.
You may not even be aware of it , but if you are feeling any kind of anxiety chances are you’re breathing very shallowly……. How about trying to consciously breathe?
Although our breath is an automatic body response controlled by the respiratory center of the brain, we can override our breathing rate by consciously controlling it.
By controlling our breath, we learn to control our emotions and can therefore transform our angst into calmness and peacefulness—much more solid states to base our decisions and reactions from.
Shallow breathing is one of the early signs of stress and creates a state of hyperventilation in our body, which actually causes anxiety and increases the stress response. It’s a perpetual cycle.
Breath control means emotion control! PLEASE approach conscious breathing slowly and listen to your body. Do what feels right for you, even if its taking 3-4 breaths your first time.
Ready? Lets begin!
Left Nostril Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (3 minutes):
It might sound weird to just breathe through one nostril? But this is a powerful tool. Be sure to listen up.
When we feel anxious our nervous system is revved up. Our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are out of balance—our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is sluggish and our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is in over-drive.
Our left nostril is connected to our PNS and our right nostril is connected to our SNS. To bring our nervous system back into balance, we can focus on breathing through one nostril, the left.
Here’s what to do:
- Take the thumb of your right hand and place it over your right nostril
- Now take a nice long slow deep breathe in through the left nostril only
- Now release the breath through the left nostril in a long, slow exhale
- Repeat the cycle and continue for 3 minutes
If you find that your left nostril is a little plugged, that’s ok. Do the best you can. If it’s too uncomfortable try the next exercise and revisit this one tomorrow.
Segmented Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (3 minutes):
In this exercise the emphasis is on exhaling, because like the left nostril, the exhale is connected to the PNS and it will help slow your heartbeat to bring about a state of physical and emotional relaxation.
In segmented breathing we breathe in quick sniffs rather than one smooth motion. The in breath and the out breath are divided into equal parts, which stimulates the central brain and the glandular system and will bring relief to your anxiety.
For segmented breathing, do the following:
- 4 sniffs on the inhale
- Pause the breath on the completed inhale
- 8 equal sniffs on the exhale
- Repeat the sequence for 3 minutes
Observe how you feel as you proceed and keep focused as best you can.
Continued practice will help you become keenly aware, and once you are aware you can stay present, calm, and in control of your emotional state.
Kimberley “Livtar Kaur” Laudati imparts her radiant spirit and joy for life in her yoga classes, workshops and retreats. She has been studying and practicing meditation and Kundalini Yoga for over 25 years. She is a Registered Nurse, Co-owner of Canaan Mountain Kundalini Yoga Studio, Internationally Certified Kundalini Yoga Teacher (IKYTA) and is also certified in Yogic Technology: to Break Tendencies, Habits and Addictions. Kimberley offers an inspiring and powerful combination of Pranayam (Breath-work), Kriyas, Meditation and Chanting. In combination with ancient raw juice remedies, food as medicine instruction, and Gong Yoga, her classes will provoke and elevate you to discover new realms of energy, glandular healing, and the inspiration to experience the joy of going beyond your personal barriers, to experience your authentic Self. Connect with Kim on Facebook or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.