3 Simple Breathwork Techniques to Calm your Anxiety
by Ruschelle Khanna, LCSW
Starting each morning with empowering breathing exercises can reduce anxiety, promote a state of calm, and grant clarity for tackling busy days.
Here are three simple breathwork techniques to reduce anxiety and set you up for a super chill, calm day: Alternate nostril breathing, a basic seed mantra, and a breath technique that combines those two. After you’ve learned them, you can access them anywhere!
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing
The first technique, alternate nostril breathing, is really simple.
We're going to take the ring finger on our right hand, press down on the left side of our nostrils, and breathe in with our right nostril. We’re then going to take our thumb, close off our our right nostril, and exhale from the left nostril.
Continue that for about ten times on the right side: close the left nostril, inhale through the right, then close the right, and exhale through the left, close the left, and inhale through the right, close the right, and exhale through the left.
And then we alternate – you close up the right, inhale through the left, close up the left, exhale through the right. You can try this keeping your eyes closed, too. At the end, breathe normally for a few breaths.
Alternate nostril breathing only takes a few minutes, and is a great way to gain a little more balance throughout your day.
2. Seed Mantra
Mantras are strings of sounds that usually tell a story about some part of the universe or a Hindu deity. We don't have to be religious to use mantras – they're just really calming for the nervous system.
A very simple seed mantra focuses on the throat – in the chakra system, your throat is associated with the throat chakra. The color is blue, and the sound – or the bija mantra – that's associated with the throat is a really simple hum.
Inhale, hummmmmm, and feel the vibrations in your throat and lips. Do this for eight to ten rounds. And that’s it! That’s the seed mantra, and a great way feel calm, too.
3. Bumblebee Breath
Then the next one is kind of a combination of those two, but not really – it's called bumblebee breath.
I love Bumblebee breath, because it's an opportunity to focus on what's happening internally – and also to let all of that kind of calm down.
So we're going to use that same sound – hummm. Super easy, right? Then what we're gonna add to that, though, is that we're just going to kind of gently close the eyes, and close off the ears.
So you're gonna place your first finger and your second finger on your forehead, making a little frame around your “third eye.”
And then your ring finger goes gently over your eyelids, and your pinkies rest gently on the tops of your cheeks.
Lastly, your thumbs are just gonna plug up your ears, so that you can neither see anything or hear anything.
So we're going to close off our ears and our eyes, and then we're just going to add that hum.
So take a big inhale, and repeat that between five and 10 times.
If you go out through all of those rounds, or just pick the one that you like, you should see a reduction, and feel a reduction, in your anxiety right away.
The beauty of breathwork is you can do it anywhere – whether it’s part of your morning routine, or on an as-needed basis to settle racing, overwhelming thoughts.
You can print these instructions out, bookmark this page, or simply memorize each exercise for easy access to a safe, natural way of quelling anxiety.
Ruschelle Khanna a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and founder of the group practice Ruschelle Khanna and Associates in Downtown and Midtown Manhattan. With over twenty years of clinical experience, Ruschelle works with busy executives, entrepreneurs and creative individuals to live their best lives. She is passionate about helping clients from all backgrounds work towards mental and physical wellness.