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Yogic breathing instructions - they help! johnj

Posted by BarbaraCat on June 5, 2002, at 12:36:39

In reply to Anxiety reducing methods??, posted by johnj on June 1, 2002, at 9:06:35

> Has anyone tried deep breathing, yoga, or any other methods with any success in reducing anxiety or depression? Thanks.
> Johnj

Deep breathing (yogic breathing) works well as long as its done correctly. Otherwise it can cause anxiety and panic attacks due to an imbalance of blood CO2. Most people just work on deeply inhaling and don't realize that it's the longer and more deeper exhale that is most important. If done correctly, no effort at all is required to deeply inhale - all work is done on the exhale where our internal musculature is put to best use.

In yoga, it's called pranayama and much time and care is spent studying and practicing it with guidance. The way that works for me, gleaned from many years of yoga, is done as follows. Best done at first lying down with pillows under head and knees, then standing up in relaxed stance, although anywhere is fine. MOST IMPORTANT: Sternum is lifted, neck should be long in back, chin somewhat tucked in. Chin should NOT be jutting out and sternum collapsed, which constricts air and causes muscle strain. Also, these counts are just ratios and can be as short or long as feels comfortable.

1. Exhale most of the air from the belly through pursed lips to a count of 7,
2. Blow 3 more puffs of air out of lips by contracting belly like a bellows. Even if you don't think there's any air left there is, so contract for each puff and expell it all.
3. Pause with a gentle contraction for count of three, relaxing throat and jaw area.
4. Relax belly and air will naturally flow in through nose. Inhale this way, inflating belly, diaphragm, back, and upper lungs for a count of 6.
5. Pause for count of 2.
6. Repeat from #1 as long as desired, usually for 1-2 minutes.

The outbreath is squeezed from the belly and should be blown out like trying to blow out a candle with sustained and directed air, but nothing too strenuous. The pauses at the end of the in and out breath should be relaxed and floating with a sensation of time halting for a moment - no straining or grimacing. The intake of air should feel like an inrush of air is inflating a balloon from the bottom of your belly, then up all around to your sides and back and then up to the thorax. I find this breathwork is both energizing and relaxing. I do it when working out, or just sitting and wanting more prana in my body. Plus, it's a great ab workout.

Another advanced variation is do the above, but through alternate nostrils. This simply means to press one nostril closed while you do the (out, hold)-(in, hold) cycle, then switch nostrils and do the same (out, hold)-(in, hold) cycle. Always start with the out breath and exhale through the nose, rather than the mouth - different from the first exercise. Should be done for 10 minutes. This balances the brain hemispheres and is very good for depression. Keep some kleenex nearby!



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