3 Ways to Breathe Away Your Anxiety - Mind Body Paddle

3 Ways to Breathe Away Your Anxiety

3 Ways to Breathe Away Your Anxiety

Looking for relief from anxiety and strategies for getting better sleep?

You already have everything you need inside of you.

Your breath is completely free, always available and will happen anyway – so why not make it work for you?

Here are 3 ways to get anxiety relief through your breath:

3 Count Breathing

Even though you breathe, on average, 12 – 20 times per minute, you may not be breathing fully or deeply.

Belly breaths help to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as rest and digest. This system is key in helping to relieve anxiety and promote rest.

It’s easy to learn, and this simple practice will go a long way toward improving your health and helping you to relax.

Hands on Belly

  • Sit in a comfortable cross-legged seated position. I highly suggest you sit on a cushion so that you’re comfortable for several minutes.
  • Press  down into the cushion to lift up through the spine and sit tall.
  • Place your hands on your belly.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply as you count one, two, three, and feel the belly expand.
  • Exhale slowly and completely as you count three, two, one, and feel the belly release.
  • Repeat for 3 cycles, breathing deeply, slowly and with a steady count.

Hands on Ribs:

  • Place your hands on your ribcage.
  • Inhale and feel the expansion of your rib cage as you count to 3.
  • Exhale slowly and completely on a 3 count feeling your ribs contract.
  • Repeat for 3  cycles, breathing deeply, slowly and with a steady count.

Hands on Collarbones:

  • Place your hands on your collarbones.
  • Inhale deeply and slowly counting to 3, feeling the rise of the collar bones beneath your hands.
  • Exhale slowly and completely counting to 3, feeling the fall of the collar bones beneath your hands.
  • Repeat for 3  breath cycles, breathing deeply, slowly and with a steady count.

Let’s Incorporate All 3:

    • Place your hands comfortably on your thighs, palms up or down.
    • Inhale into the belly and feel the belly expand.
    • Draw the breath up into your ribcage and feel the ribcage expand.
    • Continue to draw the breath up into your collarbones and feel them lift (this is the most subtle of the actions).
    • Exhale feel your belly release.
    • Continue your exhalation and feel your ribcage contract.
    • Complete your exhale as you feel your collarbones fall.
    • Repeat – inhale into the belly, draw the breath up into the front ribs and then all the way to the collarbone.
    • Exhale, belly, ribcage, collarbones.
    • Inhale 1, 2, 3
    • Exhale 3, 2, 1
    • Keep the same three count on the inhale as on the exhale.
    • Repeat for as many cycles as feels good.
    • Notice the qualities of your mind and body after this practice.


Tune Into the Pause

Once you’re comfortable with breathing on a 3 count,  start pausing for a moment at the top of the inhalation and at the bottom of the exhalation.

  • Inhale 1, 2,  3, pause; exhale 3, 2, 1, pause, and so on.

This technique is very calming for the body and the mind. It also cultivates even greater present moment awareness and space between thoughts. There’s much beauty and power to be found there.

Long Exhale

Longer exhalations has been a relaxation technique used by yogis for thousands of years. It’s simple, practical and it works.

Start with the belly breathing 3 count exercise from above and then start counting and breathing longer on the exhalations.

  • Inhale 1, 2, 3.
  • Exhale 4, 3, 2, 1.
  • Inhale 1, 2, 3.
  • Exhale 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
  • Inhale 1, 2, 3.
  • Exhale 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
  • Repeat 3 rounds with 3 count on the inhale and 6 count on the exhale.
  • Start decreasing the count on the exhalation until you come back to three counts on the inhale and three counts on the exhale.

May you connect more deeply to your breath and to who you really are, beneath the anxiety and the thoughts. Namaste.

If you’d like resources and coaching on yoga and breathwork click here. 


From the blog

How to paddle less and pause more

Do you know the power of the intentional pause? This is an important skill that I coach my paddling clients on a lot. Especially because it has unfortunately been drilled into so many people that good paddling means paddling harder and faster. Great paddlers subtract strokes rather than add them. When you zoom out and

Read More »

How to work smarter

Do you feel like you’re working really hard to reach your goals, and you wish it didn’t feel so strenuous? You’ve heard the statement ‘work smarter, not harder,’ but what does that mean? If you’re a river paddler who has a good relationship with the river, you already have a unique perspective on how to

Read More »
anna levesque leading a group of whitewater kayakers down the pacuare river in costa rica

How to Practice Hard Moves on Easy Water

Are you feeling nervous or overwhelmed about taking on a new challenge, skill, practice or habit? If so, it’s time for you to practice hard moves on easy water. This is good advice in the world of whitewater kayak instruction, AND it’s good advice in life too. Practicing hard moves in easy water means to

Read More »

Get in touch!

Do you have a question? Would you like to connect and have a conversation or learn more about an upcoming retreat? Fill out the form below.