Saturday, February 6, 2010

Three Part Breath

Three-Part or Complete Breath ~ Dirga Pranayama

I like to bring my students into breath awareness by practicing 3-Part Breath at the beginning of class.

Benefits: Focuses the attention on the present moment, calms and grounds the mind.

Practice: Begin by becoming aware of the breath: How does it feel to inhale and exhale? Is your breath smooth, steady, and without pause? When you are settled in with breath awareness, come to equal breathing (Sama Vritti Pranayama): same count inhale, same count exhale.

When you have established yourself in your breath, bring your right hand to your belly and feel the breath pushing the belly out on the inhale and feel the belly draw back into the body on the exhale. No forcing. This happens naturally. Breathe this way at least 5 complete breath cycles.

Next, bring your hands to your side ribs and start to feel the ribs expand into your hands on the inhale and draw back into the body on the exhale. If you can’t feel this you may need to bring some muscular work into it by consciously expanding the rib cage. Breathe this way at least 5 complete breath cycles.

Finally, put one hand between the belly and the ribs and the other hand up on the upper chest. Now bring the breath all the way up into the upper chest after you have filled the belly and ribs. Push the breath into the back body as well as the front body. Expand from the bottom of the belly to the top of the shoulders, into both side bodies, and into the back body. Breathe this way at least 5 complete breath cycles. Then return to smooth, steady breathing but continue to maintain your mind's focus on the breath as you move out into your day or into your practice.

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