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Effective Ways to Reduce Anxiety

Reduce Anxiety with Conscious BreathingAlong with these specific poses, focused breathing is another method used to reduce anxiety. Yogic breathing is called pranayama, which translated means “to extend the vital life force.”

The easiest breathing technique to practice is focused on utilizing the diaphragm. This engages the entire body and is believed to increase the supply of oxygen to your brain while promoting a state of calmness.

Here’s how to practice it:

From a seated or standing position, start by placing one hand on your chest and the other on the stomach directly below your rib cage.

Close your eyes, then take a slow, deep breath of air through your nose into the bottom of your lungs. You should feel a stretch in your lungs as you concentrate on inflating your diaphragm (not your chest).

Your chest should move only slightly, while the other hand feels a push as your stomach rises. When you’ve inhaled fully, pause for a moment, purse  your lips, and then exhale fully through your mouth.

As you exhale, relax your entire body. Your exhale should last twice as long as your inhale. You should aim for 6-10 deep, slow breaths per minute and repeat for a minimum of ten minutes each day.

To learn more about pranayama and difference conscious breathing techniques that you can practice, read Pranayama Explained and 5 Techniques to Get You Started.

Reduce Anxiety with Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is another aspect of yoga that can help your mind let go of anxiety. A quiet mind needs a quiet environment, so pick a place to meditate where you won’t be disturbed.

As you begin to meditate, set an intention that you choose to let go of all other obligations at this time. During your meditation, you may find yourself distracted by thoughts or bodily sensations.

When you find your mind wandering, acknowledge what is happening and reset by refocusing your gaze and concentrating on your breath. Don’t judge yourself when you find yourself distracted.

The goal is to find silence, and there is no right or wrong way to get there. Mindful meditation can help bring you back into awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and immediate environment, freeing you from lingering negativity.

The Takeaway

As Baxter Bell said, “Yoga has a sly, clever way of short circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.” Yoga can be a powerful tool to calm our nervous system and relieve anxiety. It can be practiced in a studio, at home, or even outdoors in nature.

When we are stressed and anxious, many people hold tension in their shoulders, necks, jaws, back, and even in the pelvic region. This tension can then feed back to our minds and perpetuate the feeling of unease.

Yoga, along with breathing and mindfulness can reduce the constriction. When the physical tension begins to dissipate, so does the emotional and mental angst. This leads to lower heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and an overall improved sense of well-being.