Change how you feel with yoga breathing exercises for anxiety or low energy and mood

Louise the yoga teacher sat on a stool in a dark green jumper with her hands in her lap

Yoga Breathing exercises to change how you feel

The folllowing exercise is very simple and can be done at any time, while simply sitting in a chair. You don’t have to have any yoga experience or be at all fit or flexible. As a famous yoga teacher once said, “if you can breathe, you can do yoga”.

At the end of the exercise I give you 2 optional extra steps. One helps to gently lift a low mood or low energy, the other helps reduce anxiety and feelings of overwhelm.

Breathing exercise instructions

Start by sitting upright on your chair with your feet on the floor. The important thing is that you are comfortable and can breathe freely, without any restriction. Rest your hands on your thighs, palms down.

  1. Bring your awareness to your breath and close your eyes if you wish.
  2. Start to notice the difference between your inhale and your exhale.
  3. When you’re ready, raise your right hand into the air with the inhale and lower it back to your thigh on the exhale, then do the same with the left hand. Keep your arm relaxed and raise it as much or as little as you like.
  4. Continue raising and lowering alternate hands with the breath for about a minute.
  5. Take a moment to notice how you feel before opening your eyes and continuing with your day.

An extra step for anxiety or low mood and energy

If you like, you can add 1 more step to this breathing exercise. Which you choose depends on how you feel…

If your mind is in overdrive or overwhelm and you need to wind down, gradually lengthen the exhale so it’s longer than the inhale. You could add 1 count every few breaths. If it feels good, you can extend the exhale until it’s twice as long as the inhale, but stop at whatever point feels good. Never strain the breath.

If you’re feeling miserable or low in energy, imagine breathing into the belly and really opening in the chest area on the inhale. Draw the belly to the spine on the exhale and imagine the firmness of your belly supporting your ribcage. If it feels comfortable, add a pause after each inhale. Enjoy a feeling of gentle expansion before releasing the breath out.

Safety note

Always stay within your comfort zone when practicing breathing exercises. If your breath feels strained or you feel lightheaded or dizzy at any time, please stop immediately and give yourself time to recover before getting up.