6 Deep Yoga Breathing Exercises for Stress and Anxiety

Breathing exercises are an excellent way to release stress and anxiety (Image via Pexels/ Ivan Samkov)
Breathing exercises are an excellent way to release stress and anxiety (Image via Pexels/ Ivan Samkov)

Breathing exercises may sound strange to you if you've never come across yoga and pranayama. However, they are useful if you're looking to maintain good mental and physical health.

Breathing is the essence of life. It's the act of taking in air rich with oxygen, enriching the cells to perform various activities, and expelling air rich in carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of cells metabolizing glucose to produce energy.

The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide can be messed up by bad breathing, which can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, and other physical and emotional problems.

There are breathing exercises that can help relieve stress and anxiety through techniques that mimic the calming effects of meditation. Read on to know more.

Deep Yoga Breathing Exercises for Stress and Anxiety

Here's a look at six such workouts:

1) Belly Breathing

Twenty to thirty minutes of belly breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety. Find a place that's comfortable and quiet to sit or lie down. You can sit in a chair, sit cross-legged, or lie on your back with a small pillow under your head and another under your knees.

Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Put one hand on the top of your chest and the other below the ribcage on your belly.
  • Let your belly relax, and don't squeeze or clench your muscles to make it go in.
  • Slowly take in the air through your nose. The air should move into your nose and down, making your stomach rise and fall with your other hand (towards your spine).
  • Slowly breathe out through lips that are slightly closed. Note that the hand on your chest should stay still for the most part.
  • The number of times you do the sequence will depend on your health. Most people start by doing it three times and work up to doing it five to ten minutes one to four times a day.

2) Box Square Breathing

Box breathing, which is also called 'four-square breathing', is easy to learn and do. If you've ever noticed that you breathe in and out to the beat of a song, you've already done this type of paced breathing.

Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Exhale for four counts. Hold the air out of your lungs for four counts.
  • Take a four-count breath in. Hold your breath for the count of four.
  • Exhale, and start the steps all over again.

3) 4-7-8 Breathing

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise, which is also called the 'relaxing breath', calms the nervous system in a natural way. At first, it's best to sit down with your back straight, and do the exercise. Once you know how to do this breathing exercise better, you can do it while lying in bed.

Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Put the tip of your tongue on the ridge of the tissue behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there for the entire exercise.
  • Make a 'whoosh' sound as you let all your breath out through your mouth.
  • Close your mouth, and take four slow, quiet breaths through your nose.
  • Hold your breath till you hear the number 'seven'.
  • Make a whooshing sound with your mouth for eight counts as you let all the air out.

4) Mindful Breathing

Mindfulness meditation is when you pay attention to your breathing and the present moment without letting your mind wander to the past or future.

Choose a calming focus, like 'om', 'peace', or 'breathe in calm, breathe out tension', which you can repeat silently as you inhale or exhale. Give up, and chill out.


When you realize your thoughts have wandered, take a deep breath, and bring them back to the present.

5) Pursed-Lip Breathing

A simple way to make deep breaths slower and more deliberate is to breathe with your lips together. People with lung diseases like emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who suffer from anxiety can benefit from this breathing (COPD).

Here's how you do this deep yoga breathing exercise:

  • Relax your neck and shoulders, and find a good place to sit.
  • Close your mouthm and take a slow, two-second breath in through your nose.
  • Exhale through your mouth for four seconds while making a kissing face with your lips.
  • When you breathe out, keep your breath slow and steady.
  • Do the exercise four to five times a day to get the right breathing pattern.

6) Resonance Breathing

Resonance breathing, which is also called coherent breathing, can help you calm down and feel less anxious.


Here's how you do this breathing exercise:

  • Close your eyes, and lie down.
  • Close your mouth, and take six slow, deep breaths through your nose. Don't get too much air in your lungs.
  • Allow your breath to leave your body slowly and gently without forcing it for six seconds.
  • Keep going for as long as ten minutes.
  • Spend a few more minutes being still and paying attention to how your body feels.


To make deep breathing work for you, pay attention to your body, and be aware of how anxiety affects your daily life. If you still feel very anxious after practicing deep breathing, you might want to talk to a mental health professional or a doctor to get an evaluation and suggestions for treatment.

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Edited by Bhargav