Updated: Nov 13, 2021
Three-part yogic breath, dirgha breath!
Pranayama or yogic breathing is one of the eight limbs of yoga. Generally defined as breath control, “prana” refers to life force or vital energy. “Ayama” means to extend or to lengthen. Performed regularly, pranayama can balance the mental, physical, and spiritual bodies.
Three-part breath or dirgha pranayama is an accessible introduction to this transformative practice. The benefits of dirgha pranayama include:
~Calming the mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety
~Promotes full and complete breathing
~Increases oxygen supply to the blood
~Helps keep the lungs healthy
~Releases muscular tension
~Prepares for deeper meditation
~Lower blood pressure
1. Sit on a blanket/cushion in an easy cross-legged pose. Root your amd organize your sit-bones and inhale a deep breath, feel your spine grow long as you lightly extend from the crown of the head. Bring the shoulders up towards the ears and gently draw the shoulder blades down and towards the spine as you soften the face opening the heart and chest.
2. Place your hand over your navel and take a slow, deep breath into your belly. Feel the belly inflate like a balloon as you inhale, and deflate as you exhale. Practice this for five breaths.
3. Move your hand two to three inches above your navel to your rib cage. Feel the ribs expand as you inhale, and retract as you exhale. Practice this for five breaths.
4. Place your hand below your collarbone, at the center of your chest, and inhale. Feel the chest spread as you breathe in, and withdraw on an exhale. Practice this for five breaths.
Linking and expanding your three-part yogic breath~
1. You may continue to use your hand as a guide or try the breathing exercise without. Breathe into the belly, feeling it fill up with air. Keep inhaling as the breath expands to the ribs, and then the chest. Pause for a moment, completely filled with air.
2. Exhale from the chest, then the ribs, and then the belly. Pause.
3. Continue the same sequence, inhaling to the belly, the ribs, the chest, and so forth. Try for five to ten rounds. Work towards more repetitions when you feel comfortable.
Witness your breath blossom without force or strain. It is useful to work on an empty stomach; finish eating two to three hours before you begin. Do not start a breathing practice if you experience asthma, shortness of breath, or have a heart condition. Always consult your doctor if your are concerned.
Three-part yogic breathing is excellent for meditation preparation and best before and during yoga. Invoke this exercise when you feel stressed, anxious or when your breath feels constricted. By cultivating a regular pranayama practice, your body and mind become more conscious of the present moment and finding stillness between the thoughts during meditation. This in turn will help you find inner peace and cultivate self love.