Two Simple Ways to Exhale Anxiety

By quieting the mind, we can reduce those thoughts that cause agitation and self-doubt and distract us from the present moment.

A centuries-old way of quieting the mind is the use of controlled breathing techniques (pranayama) to expand our life force and clear the cobwebs from our gray matter. It relaxes our body and cleans the lens of human perception.

Some of the techniques are simple, and since we have to breathe anyway we might as well use the breath to help ourselves feel better. Air is also a bargain, available everywhere and free to use.

Cool Yourself Down

In this exercise, you cool your system down by drawing your in-breath over your tongue. This is called the Sitali pranayama, and it will improve focus, reduce anxiety and agitation, and calm anger. This is a good exercise to eliminate feelings of lethargy or drowsiness as well.

You might try this a couple of times each day for a week to see if it helps your anxiety, and use it any time you feel your symptoms are on the rise. It is likely an exercise you will want to do in the privacy of your home. Those who don’t know what you are doing may think you are strange.

Sit on a chair or the floor; sit naturally tall and relax your shoulders.

  • Bend your head slightly forward to lower your chin and curl the sides of your tongue up and in so that your tongue becomes a straw.
  • Slowly inhale through the straw while raising your chin to the ceiling as far as you comfortably can.
  • Pull in your tongue so the mouth is closed and exhale through your nose as you slowly drop your chin back down.
  • If you are not used to breathing exercises, start out with four repetitions and gradually work up to at least eight.
  • Not everyone has the genetic gift of being able to curl his or her tongue, but there are plenty of other exercises to try.

A Longer Out-Breath

Having your exhale a bit longer than your inhale has a calming effect on the body. Here is an exercise you can do before you get out of bed or after crawling in.

  • Lie on the floor (preferably), knees bent and hip-width apart; place the palm of either hand on your abdomen and feel your abdomen expand as you breathe.
  • Count the length of a few inhalations and exhalations and adjust your breathing, if necessary, so that they are equal.
  • Keeping your inhale the same, but slowly increase the length of your exhale by gently contracting your abdomen at the bottom of your exhale. Only a second or two longer is enough to start calming the body.
  • Gradually adjust your breathing until your exhale is twice as long as your inhale. Do not lengthen the exhale any further.
  • Your breathing should remain smooth and feel effortless. If it does not, shorten the exhale until you are comfortable again.
  • Before sitting up, shorten your exhale until it is again the same length as your inhale; get up slowly.

Source: Yoga Journal
Photo: Px Here

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