As a meditation teacher, lots of people ask for my advice on using meditation for panic attacks.
The good news is this: both yoga and meditation help with panic attacks—scientific research and spiritual wisdom back that.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What Are Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks are unexpected bouts of anxiety that feel like a flash of fear. They are intense, and they can be completely debilitating.
Technically speaking, panic attacks involve at least four of the following symptoms (1):
- Heart palpitations
- Accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of being smothering
- Feelings of choking for seemingly no reason
- Chest pain / tension /
- Nausea or abdominal pain
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling light-headed
- Feeling faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
The difference between panic attacks and anxiety
Many people confuse panic attacks with anxiety. That’s an understandable mistake. There are lots of similarities between panic attacks and anxiety.
It’s important to know the difference especially if you want to use meditation for panic attacks.
(If you think you might have anxiety, use my guide to curing anxiety with meditation)
Here’s the difference between panic attacks and anxiety:
- Panic attacks are short and intense. They generally reach their peak within 10 minutes and with no obvious trigger.
- Anxiety lasts longer and is generally tied to a specific trigger. Anxiety also has observable worries. Anxiety is generally less intense than panic attacks (2).
As you can see, the main difference between panic attacks and anxiety is that panic attacks are shorter and more intense.
The Evidence That Yoga And Meditation Help Panic Attacks
Finally, we are entering and age where science is taking spirituality seriously. As such, there is tons of research currently being conducted into how spiritual practices like mindfulness and yoga help with mental health problems.
Science has already proven that meditation and mindfulness offer 100+ health benefits.
And we now know, scientifically, that mindfulness and yoga help with panic attacks.
Yoga reduces stress and anxiety and improves quality of life. And the combination of meditation and yoga is effective at treating panic attacks.
A survey of 14,985 people looked at the effect that meditation, yoga and acupuncture have on panic disorders.
Two thirds of the study-group who had anxiety disorders undertook alternative therapies and had successful results.
This has been backed by other studies around the world.
Scientists believe that mind-body interventions like yoga and meditation help panic attacks significantlyThe scientists note that when used as therapy yoga should include asana (poses0, pranayama (breathing) and yoganidra (deep relaxation) as well as meditation.
The researchers note that yoga and meditation significantly increase emotional regulation and reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. 
The Best Ways To Beat Panic Attacks
Mindfulness meditation is a style of meditation in which we are consciously aware of the present moment and of what is occurring within the mind.
Scientific research shows that mindfulness meditation reduces the symptoms of anxiety and improves emotional regulation—meaning less panic attacks. 
When we practice mindfulness meditation we learn about the mind and about how our mental state is constantly changing. And we learn to accept our feelings and emotions instead of reacting to them in unhelpful ways.
It seems remarkably simple, doesn’t it? Just focusing on the present moment. That’s all it is. And yet the act of focusing on the present moment, or being mindful, can and will change your life for the better, as it has changed the lives of many millions of people around the world.
When we practice mindfulness, we teach our mind not to dwell on thoughts. This naturally lessens the effect that stress, worry and negative thoughts have on us.
Mindfulness is about observing and accepting thoughts, rather than fighting them and pushing them away. By accepting our thoughts and not fighting them, we recognise that they are only thoughts, that they are not reality. Once we realise this, we are able to overcome our negative ways of thinking.
Not only does mindfulness help panic attacks, it is recognised as one of the best ways to make the mind stronger.
From the scientific research we know that yoga helps panic attacks big time. Yoga is one of the most reliable ways of improving emotional regulation and alleviating the symptoms of panic attacks.
Science also teaches us how to use yoga for panic attacks.
The research says we should focus on the following:
1. Asanas (poses)
Asanas are the specific body positions in yoga. For instance, the most well-known positions are “Downward Dog” and “Cat Pose”.
Science shows that different asanas have different benefits because they activate different parts of the body. 
Some asanas are extremely useful for panic attacks.
- Legs up wall pose
- Warrior III
- Tree Pose
- Child’s Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Cat Pose
- Cow Pose
2. Pranayama (breathing techniques)
Pranayama is the yogic term for controlling the breath. We use the breath to help move prana (energy) around the body.
Try this beginner’s pranayama exercise for panic attacks:
- Sit comfortably with good posture
- Brathe in and focus on creating a smooth and flowing breath
- Meditate on the feeling of your breath moving between your lips and nose.
- Pause slightly between inhalation and exhalation. Notice the stillness here.
- Breathe out smoothly, meditating on the flow of breath.
This is a simple pranayama exercise that calms the mind. It’s great for panic attacks.
You can also use the prana mudra, which is excellent for panic attacks.
3. Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation)
Yoga Nidra is the state of conscious that lies halfway between waking and sleeping. In this state we are completely relaxed and much more mindful of our inward state.
The science (above) shows that yoga nidra relieves the symptoms of panic attacks.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie down straight in Shavasana (Corpse Pose).
- Close your eyes and relax.
- Take a few mindful breaths.
- Bring your awareness to you right foot. Relax your foot.
- Move on to your right knee, ankle, thigh and then hip. Relax these parts.
- Be aware of your entire right leg. Relax.
- Repeat with your left leg.
- Continue in this fashion across your pelvis, stomach, navel, chest, right arm, right hand, left arm, left hand, neck, throat, and head.
- Breathe mindfully for 10 breaths.
- Be aware of your entire body. Relax.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Relax.
- Sit up slowly and gently.
These are the three best ways to use yoga for panic attacks.
3. Nine Round Breathing
If you suffer from panic attacks, one of the best things you an do is to try and relax throughout the day.
One of the best ways to relax your mind is to practice Nine Round Breathing. It’s a special breathing technique that originates from Buddhism. And it is great for quickly relaxing the min when you feel a panic attack coming on.
I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to Nine Round Breathing meditation specially for you because I really believe that it will help you to overcome panic attacks. So make sure you take a look at that link.
4. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy is a system that combines psychological exercises (CBT) with mindfulness. This is the best of science and meditation brought together.
Research shows that when we combine mindfulness with cognitive behavioural therapy we get a highly effective treatment for panic attacks (6).
I’ve written a separate guide to help you learn mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy.
A well-known trick or panic attacks is to take a run.
Exercise is immensely important for anxiety (and for depression and other mental health problems).
Hundreds of scientific studies have proven that exercise is of immense benefit in curing anxiety. Exercise releases hormones and chemicals that help you to relax and to improve your mood.
Exercise also helps to stop anxiety by making it harder for the body to experience the physical symptoms of anxiety. Jogging is one of the best exercise for anxiety relief. Walking is also good exercise for anxiety.
If you really want the complete cure, try meditating while running. It’s been proven that meditating while running is one of the absolute best tricks for panic attacks.
6. Take a magnesium supplement
Numerous studies have shown that magnesium can decrease the symptoms of anxiety.
Dr. Ronald Hoffman says:
Magnesium is depleted by production of the hormonal neurotransmitters called catecholamines, which stimulate the body into the kind of heightened readiness for activity we call the fight-or-flight response (7).
Taking a magnesium supplement can help to reduce onsets of panic attacks.
The highest rated Magnesium Supplement for panic attacks on Amazon is Magnesium w/SRT 240.
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7. Plan ahead
Another great trick for panic attacks is to plan ahead.
You need to plan so you are prepared for an anxiety attack. Make use of your free time, when you are feeling relaxed, to come up with a plan of campaign for when you do suffer an anxiety attack.
Perhaps you can have a friend or relative in mind who you can call.
Perhaps you can carry some relaxing music with you.
Find ways to relax and make sure they are always at hand. Simply knowing that you have ways to overcome an anxiety attack will help you to feel more relaxed and less worried. This will reduce the chance of you suffering an anxiety attack.
What to remember if you suffer from panic attacks
Panic attacks can be absolutely devastating, I know. It can make it very difficult to relax, especially when you are out in public. But it is very important to remember that you are in control.
Yes, you are in control.
I know it often doesn’t feel like that. But listen. You have control of your own mind. Yes, there are challenges from time to time. And sometimes you may feel anxious. And you may continue to suffer from the occasional panic attack.
But you know what? You have the power to take control of your panic attacks. And using spiritual techniques like yoga and meditation will help immensely.
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