The Yogi's Blog: Facts, Figures, and Figments of Imagination

Combat Anxiety With These 3 Breathing Techniques

Posted by Brittany Epley on 12/5/2016

Panic attacks or bouts of anxiety can come on at any time and in any location, causing not only embarrassment, but also significant discomfort, and in some cases, safety hazards. As you pursue medical treatment to cut back on the frequency of anxiety attacks, it is prudent to have a plan in place, as this can minimize damage if a future attack does occur.

Your breath is one of the most accessible and most effective tools you have for easing anxiety attacks. In addition to immediately lowering your blood pressure, the targeted breathing techniques listed below can help you feel calmer and more relaxed -- and capable of handling the situation that led to the anxiety in the first place.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Nadi Shodhana involves breathing in and out through alternate nostrils. This technique is believed to refocus the mind and restore balance in both the left and right sides of the brain. It's a great option just as you begin to feel stressed -- and it can be used to prevent mild anxiety from growing worse.

Begin by blocking one nostril with your thumb while sitting tall. Inhale slowly through the right nostril while blocking the left and then, after a full inhale, switch your thumb to the right nostril. Retain your breath for a brief instance and then exhale steadily through the left nostril. Reverse the process by inhaling through the right nostril with the left side closed, and then exhaling through the left nostril. Repeat for at least five cycles. Once finished, you should feel calm and in control.

Anuloma Viloma

Take Nadi Shodhana to the next level with Anuloma Viloma, an offshoot of the pranayama technique that involves forcing the air in through the nostrils in a louder and more defiant manner. As with Nadi Shadhana, you will breath with one nostril at a time, using your thumb to close the other nostril. While forcing each inhale, a gusty sound should occur. 

Anuloma Viloma is preferable for situations in which anxiety or fear has you paralyzed and unable to take action. If your anxiety manifests itself in avoidance, Anuloma Viloma can provide the burst of energy and confidence you need to take action.


Whether you're suffering from a bad mood or insomnia, you can benefit from Ujjayi, a popular breathing technique used in a variety of yoga classes. It's a great option if stress is keeping you from concentrating on poses, but even better if you feel anxious as you carry out your day.

To practice Ujjayi, seal your lips and breath exclusively through your nose. Your inhales should be more audible than usual, and your exhales should be slow. The noise made while inhaling during Ujjayi is often compared to ocean waves. As you inhale and exhale, you should be able to feel the rush of air against your windpipe. 

Yoga breathing exercises should not be limited to the yoga mat or studio. When infused into everyday life, the exercises outlined above can deliver a much-needed sense of calm, thereby making anxiety attacks less likely -- and making you better able to handle them when they do occur. 

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