Breathe Deep: Yoga For Anxiety, Stress and Anger


I had a freak out on Friday; totally uncontrollably angry. I'm at my angriest for one of two reasons. One: being told how I am feeling or should feel. For example: "Oops, someone's in a bad mood." Two: Not feeling in control of a situation.

The second is a whopper because, duh, we are never really in control of any situation. The roof always has the infinite possibility of caving in. As that dark dude Schopenhauer said,

"We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses one first and then another for his prey. So it is that in our good days we are all unconscious of the evil Fate may have presently in store for us-- sickness, poverty, mutilation, loss of sight or reason."

What we do have, though, is control over how we react. Or, better, *don't* react. On Friday I was both repeatedly told that I was angry (making me angrier) and not allowed to make decisions for myself. So, was completely and totally angry in feeling helpless and then being told I was. Released from the bad situation, I immediately felt better (get me to a town with a bathroom, feed me, and get me off of nauseating back winding roads-- for over four hours!-- and I perk up). Doesn't change the fact that I was not in control when the situation was at its worst. Yes, it was a really, genuinely bad situation, but as Shope points out... it can be a lot worse.

Yoga for Freaking Out

One type of breath work that is great for freaking out, stressing out, or being really, really mad is Dirga Pranayama (Three Part Breath).

  1. Lie down on the back, closing the eyes
  2. Taking one hand to the belly and one hand to the chest, feeling the natural rise and fall of air against your hands. Begin to breathe more fully, expanding on an inhale into the area where the hands are placed. Breathe through the nose.
  3. Begin to isolate the breath in different parts of the torso. On an inhale, fill the belly up with your breath. Expand the belly with air like a balloon.
  4. On the exhale, let the air move out of the belly
  5. Continue for 1 minute
  6. On the next inhale, fill the rib cage with air, causing the ribs to widen apart and upwards.
  7. On the exhale, let the air release from the rib cage
  8. Breath into the rib cage for 1 minute
  9. On the next inhale, breath into the chest all the way up to the collarbone
  10. On the exhale, let the breath go first from the upper chest
  11. Continue for 1 minute
  12. Now, put the three together with one breath. On a single inhale, breath into the belly (expanding outwards), then filling up to the rib cage, finally having the inhale culminate up by the collar bones
  13. On a single exhale, exhale from the collar bones, the rib cage, and then the belly.
  14. Inhale from bottom to top, exhale from top to bottom
  15. Continue for 2-5 minutes
  16. Stop being angry 


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