Pranayama or Breathing exercises, mainly done with a yoga practice, but can be done as a stand alone practice or with your morning/evening meditation.
By bringing awareness to your body and consciously practicing breath-control exercises, you can bring positive changes to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Benefits of the 3 Part Breath
Practicing the 3 Part Breath teaches you to breathe fully and completely. Most people would wonder ‘what is the use in breath work, as we all breathe naturally’. But what people don’t understand is that most of us breathe very shallow or just to the top part of the chest. This combined with poor posture, bad eating habits and long periods of sitting mean that we are not bringing fresh oxygen to the whole torso, lungs and diaphragm, therefore a lack of oxygen to the blood vessels causing a strain on our lungs and heart.
Learning to breathe deeply and fully will increase your oxygen supply, which will help to decrease stress and anxiety levels. Additionally, focusing on your body during 3 Part Breath brings awareness to the present moment and calms your mind. This is the most basic form of meditation; awareness on the breath brings you into the present moment.
The 3 Part Breath is often used at the very beginning of a yoga practice to settle in and prepare oneself for practice and meditation. This technique is particularly beneficial in everyday life because it requires no special sound or position to achieve a grounded and relaxed state of awareness.
Sitting in a comfortable position. Feel the spine lengthen, tail bone drawing down and crown of the head reaching upwards. (can also be done laying down – just don’t fall asleep)
Relax your shoulders, face, jaw.
(in short – – Breathe into the Belly, Ribs and Chest. 5 full breaths for each part and 5 full breaths for all 3 together.
- Breathing into the Belly is great for easing tension, stress or anxiety
- Breathing into the Ribs is great for fully oxygenating the body, calming the nervous system and boosting immune system
- Breathing into the Chest is great for soothing panic or sadness and regulating the heartbeat. )
Start by placing your hands on the base of your belly. Focus on the breath coming in to your body and drawing down to your belly. On an inhale feel your breath fill your belly and rise to meet your hands. On an exhale feel the breath slowly and gently release out and your belly draws back towards your spine. Get connected to the sensation of breath coming in and out of the abdomen, a deep belly breath, bringing fresh oxygen down to your organs and digestive system.
Now bring your hands to your ribs, (along the bra line.) Stay connected to your belly breath, then draw the breath up into the rib cage, expand the rib cage on an inhale. As you exhale feel the rib cage contract and the belly draw back towards your spine. Follow each breath: inhale to the belly and expand, raise the breath to the ribs, fully breathing into the lungs, exhale slowly release follow as the ribs slowly let the air out contracting to the centre and the belly draws back to the spine. Stay with this calm deep breath, for 5 breaths. Each breath is expanding and allow your body to be refreshed and calming your system.
Once you are comfortable with this deep breath, let’s take it a step further. Taking your fingers to your chest, under the collar bones. Breath into your belly and ribs, like before, this time extending the breath and bringing it all the way up to your chest. Taking a deeper, fuller breath, feel the collar bones lift slightly, the chest raises. As you release your exhale slowly feel the chest fall, the ribs contract and the belly draw towards the spine.
Follow this three part breath, calmly breathing into each part of the body, feel the sensations of each part of the breath. You may find it helpful to mental talk your self through the breath: Inhale – belly, ribs, and chest. Exhale – relax, relax, and relax.
Allow your body to be fully oxygenated, feel the space you are creating and feel a sense of calm wash over you as you stay present observing this full three part breath.