The Stepped Breath exercise is great for calming anxiety. It can be used as treatment for anger and any negative emotions. You may notice the same sensations in your body as sighing or after you have been crying. This is good – it’s a very natural response. Once you have learnt the technique it can be applied in any situation, just remove yourself from the stressor (if you are able to safely) and take yourself to a place you can be alone for a few minutes.
It’s best, as with all yoga practices, to learn the technique before you need to implement it. If you are suffering from negative attitudes, are getting angry often, get anxious or have insomnia, try to set 5 minutes aside each day over the next week to practice this breathing exercise. You might find that you naturally have less symptoms or you can apply the technique when you notice the symptoms arise.
To practice, sit in a comfortable position or on a chair, spine erect relaxing the shoulders. (It will help if you are able to close your eyes – ensure you are safe and stable before you do this.) Focus your awareness on your breath. Begin to lengthen and deepen your breath. If you are familiar with the 3 part breath move into this gradually. If not, continue to breath deeply and slowly, in and out through the nose.
In your mind create a picture of a playground slide with 5 steps up and a long slide down the other side. Now begin to breath as if you are playing on the slide – sniffing in 5 ‘steps’ of breath in through your nose and then a smooth elongated exhalation as you ‘slide’ down the slide.
Continue for 5 or 6 rounds and then begin to return to your natural breathing. Notice how you are feeling. If it helps, practice twice per day for general calming.