The 3-Part Breath
This breath creates a state of mental alertness, even as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system so that the body-mind is calm. Long extension of the exhalation enhances the calming effect. The ideal ratio for calming and cooling is 1:2, although you may want to start with a 1:1 ratio and gradually increase the exhale.
3-Part Breath or diaphragmatic breathing can be a wonderful way to begin a morning practice, or throughout the day to shake off any anxiety. Following a 3-5 minute practice, you will likely feel more grounded and focused.
- Find a comfortable seat, either crossed-legged on the floor, hips slightly elevated, or in a chair, feet on the floor.
- Hands can rest on your thighs, palms up or down.
- Gently close your eyes, partially or fully.
- Take a slow, easy breath to release extra tension in your body.
- Exhale completely then inhale through the nose all the way down to the bottom of your lungs so your belly expands outward. Practice this first part at least three times or until the breath is smooth and you can see your abdomen rising with the inhalation and falling with the exhalation.
- When you’re ready, inhale the first third of the breath into the bottom of the lungs as above, and then inhale the second third upward into the chest so that the ribcage expands. Practice this a few times or until there is a sense of ease with the breath.
- Place the left hand on your upper chest, and inhale as above with the final third of the breath moving up into the top of the lungs, and feel your upper chest lift.
- Slowly release the breath and feel the upper chest lowering first, all the way down to the belly as you draw your abdomen back toward your spine, completely emptying the bottom of your lungs.
- To begin, practice for 3 to 5 minutes.
Keep your focus and concentration on the coordinated movement of the belly and chest.
It can help to place the right hand on the abdomen so the extension can be easily felt.
If the breath is constricted and you have trouble breathing deeply, you can do this lying down. It is easier to breathe into the bottom of the lung and extend the abdomen from this position.
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