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Gentle Breath Work for Reducing Anxiety

 

Did you know there is a science to how we breathe?

Yoga is more than stretching or exercise and the breath is a key foundation to the overall practice. When we learn to regulate the breath we are able to better self-regulate our nervous system and emotional responses. 

It is important to know that inhale activates the sympathetic nervous system response. It is heating, solar, and energetic. The exhale activates the parasympathetic nervous system and it is known to be cooling, relaxing, yet can also be strong. 

When we experience anxiety we learn to self-regulate our response by noticing our breath. You might realize that you are breathing in the upper chest or possibly in another area. Without trying to change anything - notice it as it is. 

When you feel comfortable doing so try to match the count of your inhale to the count of your exhale. This is a balanced breath called sama vritti. You might breathe in for the count of four and exhale four. 

Once you feel established with a balanced breath then consider lengthening the exhale. This can be possibly two counts longer or maybe even twice as long as the inhale. 

Remember that there is no wrong way to do this. It is about your experience and creating a deeper relationship with the breath. 

If at anytime you feel discomfort, agitation, or dizziness then stop the practice and allow your breath to return to it's natural rhythm.

Tune into interpersonal rhythms and become curious about your experience when it comes to breath. 

Let's focus on what feels good and right in our body.

 

“Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health.  If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.  There is no single more powerful – or more simple – daily practice to further your health and wellbeing than breathwork.  Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”

– Dr. Andrew Weil, Integrative medicine physician & author

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