Yogic breathing to reduce PTSD anxiety
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is a yogic breathing technique which helps to calm and centre the mind, to keep it happy, relaxed and peaceful and rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit – incredibly useful for PTSD sufferers.
It’s said that a few minutes of this alternate nostril breathing each day helps to de-stress and release accumulated tension and fatigue by lowering your heart rate – very useful for anyone with PTSD or C-PTSD.
As you shift your focus between your left and right nostrils, you might find that your mind becomes more centred and focused. This technique can clear out blocked energy channels in the body and harmonise the left and right hemispheres of the brain, both of which can help to reduce anxiety levels.
In yoga, it is believed that by practicing this, you will cleanse and purify the ‘nadis,’ allowing for a smoother flow of “prana” (meaning, “life force energy”) throughout the body, mind, and spirit. When prana becomes unbalanced, due to mental and physical stress, the nadis become blocked, which can lead to illness and disease. Keeping the nadis cleansed will lead to overall wellness and peace in all areas of life. This can be particularly useful for anyone with PTSD or C-PTSD, who may benefit from a sense of overall peace and wellness.
Nadi Shodhana Practice
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, try using alternate nostril breathing as a way to reset your mental state. It’s a simple and effective technique that can be done anytime you find yourself juggling too many tasks or feeling panic rising
- Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open.
- Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face.
- With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily.
- Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
- Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
- Inhale through the right side slowly.
- Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb).
- Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
- Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.
Steps 5-9 represent one complete cycle of alternate nostril breathing. If you’re moving through the sequence slowly, one cycle should take you about 30-40 seconds. Move through 5-10 cycles when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or in need of a reset button.
Tip: Consistency is helpful, so try to match the length of your inhales, pauses, and exhales. For example, you can start to inhale for a count of five, hold for five, exhale for five, hold for five. You can slowly increase your count as you refine your practice.
Don’t hold your breathe at any point if you have high blood pressure, or any respiratory diseases. You should always stop immediately if you become dizzy or faint. If you have any concerns about practising yoga, you should speak to your GP.
Don’t push yourself with this exercise, if your breath becomes difficult or if you start feeling anxious, stop the exercise and return to your normal breathing before you attempt it again.
It’s important to note, that while choosing your PTSD or C-PTSD recovery path you need to address both the symptoms and the underlying condition. NICE guidance updated in 2018 recommends the use of trauma focused psychological treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adults, specifically the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Please remember, these aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.
IMAGE: Breathe by hilectric
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