Pranayama Practice for Stress and Anxiety

“Pranayama teaches the aspirant to regulate his breathing and thereby control the mind.”

– Iyengar

When it comes to coping with stress overload or anxiety, your breath is one of the best remedies there is – and it’s free!
Sooner or later, most of us feel a little depressed, stressed or anxious.
There are many different ways of treating these feelings, from exercise to meditation.
But you may not realize that you have a safe, effective and inexpensive remedy right at hand for each of these conditions.

‘Your own breath’

The breath has amazing recuperative powers.
By controlling the breath (Pranayama), the yogis found, they could alter their state of mind.

Pranayama for Anxiety and Stress

You can work with anxiety and stress by focusing on your exhalations and lengthening them, deliberately and gradually. For example, if your everyday exhalation lasts six counts, draw each one out to seven for a few breathing cycles, then to eight for a few cycles, and so on, until you find a length that suits you.
Once you’ve comfortably increased the length of your exhalations by a few counts, turn part of your attention to the subtle sound of them. You’ll notice that each one makes a soft “ha”, like a gentle sigh. Try to make this sound – and your exhalations – as soft and even as possible from beginning to end. Pause briefly at the end of each exhalation, resting peacefully in stillness. Continuing like this, watch your breath as steadily as you can for 10-15 minutes.

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How to Practice Breathwork Daily?

How often do you need to practice to make the breathing remedy effective when you really need it?
It’s a practice like another, and the more you exercise your ability to watch your breath, the better you will become at doing it.
If you can, schedule a regular 10-minute breath-awareness practice during a quiet part of your day. (For many people, early mornings are the best)
But if that seems like too much of a commitment, it’s simple enough just to close your eyes and take 1-minute conscious breathing breaks at random moments in your daily routine.
You might find that these breaks are almost as energizing as a coffee break – and they have a lot fewer side effects.
In fact, you may discover that conscious breathing not only soothes your emotions and boosts your energy, it can also make your life richer and more fun.