Anxiety hits us all at the most unexpected times. Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, shaking. Some people may turn to things like food or cigarettes to cope; wine is my vice. But I didn’t want to always have to turn to something that I would later regret. I knew breathing helped me stay calm and focused in yoga and lifting, but when I started taking my breath off the mat is when I started to really notice a change.
Below is a simple two step pranayama exercise to do during a stressful or anxious time. Pranayama is the practice of controlling the breath.
- Ujjayi Breath: If you practice Vinyasa yoga, chances are you already practice Ujjayi breath. It is a constriction of the muscles in the back of your throat. With your mouth closed, take a long inhale and exhale with your throat slightly constricted. This is often called the oceanic breath as it sounds like waves.
- Taking that a step further and adding more control, start counting your breaths. Inhale slowly for four counts, exhale slowly for four counts. Continue for as long as needed.
The great thing about this pranayama exercise is it can be done anywhere, with your eyes open or closed and for the most part no one around you will ever know you are even doing it.