Relieve Anxiety with Easy Breathing Exercises


I use both of these breathing exercises daily to help me stay calm and clear. And through my years of teaching yoga and pranayama I’ve met a lot of people that are mouth breathers. Below I explain why you need to learn to breath through your nose.


Lying flat on your back with a rolled blanket under knees and a small pillow under your head.

Place your right hand just below your navel and your left hand on your chest.

Begin to inhale through the nose allowing the belly to rise, try and keep the chest still, your right hand should rise. Feel like your breathing up from the pubic bone up, this may sound strange at first but after a few rounds you will start to get the hang of it. Next allow the exhale to happen, your right hand should lower back toward the spine.

Don’t force the inhalation or the exhalation. But you do want to feel like you are extending the inhale and allowing the exhale to happen slowing, active inhale and passive exhale.

You should not strain or feel any tension...relax and allow the breath to happen. If you feel any tension or stress stop.

In this process, the life-giving oxygen fills the lungs and gets into the blood stream for distribution to the cells. Carbon dioxide is expelled from the blood into the about-to-be exhaled breath, thus cleansing the body and blood of waste products.

For best results practice Deep Belly Breathing 2-5 minutes up 15-30 minutes, 3-6 days a week.


This Alternate Nostril Breathing technique is a main stay to my practice. I love this breathing exercise, why because it helps me stay calm and clear headed.

The Practice

Sitting in a chair or on the floor, spine tall. Place your right thumb on you right nostril and inhale through the left nostril, then close the left nostril with the right ring finger exhale through the right nostril. Alternating back and forth. Slow inhales and slow exhales, don’t force the inhale or the exhale, just allow the breath to be long and slow.

Practice for 3-4 minutes or ten rounds.

The Benefits

  • Clears the mind and calms the body, creates a state of deep relaxation

  • Nourishes the body and brain with oxygen

  • Balance the right brain, left brain

  • Calms anxiety and unstable mental states

  • Regulates the heating and cooling cycles of the body

  • Balances the wake and sleep cycles, one nostril is responsible for wake cycles and one for sleep

When Not to Practice

  • Do not practice with a cold or sinus infection

  • Do not practice too vigorously or too excessively

  • If you are pregnant, check with your doctor before practicing any breathing exercises that require retention

The Importance of Breathing Through Your Nose

Except for emergencies, our breathing was designed to take place mainly through our nose. When we breathe through our nose, the hairs that line our nostrils filter out particles of dust and dirt that can damage our lungs. If too many particles accumulate on the membranes of the nose, we automatically secret mucus to trap them or sneeze to expel them. The mucous membranes of our septum, which divides the nose into two cavities, further prepare the air for our lungs by warming and humidifying it.

There is another important reason for breathing through the nose. This has to do with maintaining the correct balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our blood. When we breathe through our mouth we usually inhale and exhale air quickly in large volumes. This often leads to a kind of hyperventilation (breathing excessively fast for the actual conditions in which we find ourselves). It is important to recognize that it is the amount of carbon dioxide in our blood that generally regulates our breathing.

Research has shown that if we release carbon dioxide too quickly, the arteries and vessels carrying blood to our cells constrict and the oxygen in our blood is unable to reach the cells in sufficient quantity. This includes the carotid arteries which carry blood (and oxygen) to the brain.

The lack of sufficient oxygen going to the cells of the brain can turn on our sympathetic nervous system, our "fight or flight" response, and make us tense, anxious, irritable, and depressed. So remember, when possible, to breathe through your nose.

Also breathing through the mouth tends to inflate only the upper lobes of the lungs, which are connected to sympathetic nerve fibers, the branch of the nervous system that activates the flight-or-flight fear response. ... When you switch to nose breathing, you inflate the entire lung, including the lower lobes, which are connected to the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, the branch that calms the body, slows the heart rate, relaxes, and soothes. Through proper nose breathing, you employ both branches of the nervous system.

Isn't it amazing how our bodies were designed perfectly with one system affecting the other?

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Sally Wilkins