Yoga Pranayama for Anxiety Attacks

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Yoga Pranayama for Anxiety Attacks

yoga teacher trainingBy Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 250

Good health depends on breathing properly. Improper breathing can cause problems that range from fatigue to high blood pressure, and even heart disease. Improper breathing can also increase the level of anxiety a person feels on a daily basis.

People who experience anxiety attacks can greatly reduce the number, severity, and length of the attacks by practicing Yoga and the breathing techniques (pranayama) that accompany it on a regular basis. As strange as it is to say, our societies have become too busy to even take the time to breathe correctly.  Just a short session of Ujjayi pranayama would help most people.

Shallow breathing has become a hallmark of this busy world. Our health at the cellular level depends on a sufficient supply of oxygen. If our body does not receive the necessary oxygen, the body heightens its stress response, and this can also trigger anxiety attacks. Practicing Yoga regularly can help, and incorporating the methods into daily life can keep your attacks under your control or eliminate them.

When practicing Yoga postures (asanas), the muscles and skeletal system are stretch and relaxed. These soothing movements naturally create a sense of calmness in both the body and the mind. While any sort of physical exercise can help with anxiety, Yoga training has the added benefit of specifically generating relaxation deep within the muscles while simultaneously toning them.

The breathing techniques of Yoga pranayama are implemented to create balance in the body. When this balance is interrupted due to improper breathing or the stress of everyday life, you tend to feel restless and constricted. This feeling of constriction tends to cause you to stress out more, breathe with more shallow gasps, and feel increasingly restless. It is a downward spiral. Action needs to be taken in order to stop the cycle, and Yoga training is a positive habit to indulge in.

Practicing Yoga asanas a couple times per week will prove to be effective for keeping anxiety in check, but there are also subtle Yogic breathing techniques (pranayama) you can practice no matter where you are or what you are doing. Anxiety attacks are not considerate enough to emerge at a time when we are prepared for them. They may pop up at the office, in a traffic jam or during public transit. If you feel an anxiety attack coming on, breathe quietly, but deeply as you would during your Yoga practice.

Fill up your entire lung capacity as you breathe through your nose. Your abdomen, shoulders, and ribs, should all gradually expand. Then exhale, while theses areas of the body slowly collapse. Repeat this slow, steady, and rhythmic process several times with great focus.

It may be difficult to get into the habit of practicing pranayama if, or when, you on the edge of an anxiety attack, but you will notice a distinct difference as soon as you begin.

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