The Three Part Breath (Deergha Swasam), is a wonderful tool that you can add to your ever-expanding repertoire of mindfulness techniques. Use it to focus your attention, summon your confidence, or turn down that noise in your head.
This form of pranayama uses a big, healthy inhalation to fill the bottom, middle and then top of your lungs. The exhalation then releases the breath from the top down. It delivers lots of fresh oxygen to your body and your brain, soothes your nerves, and brings you back to the present moment.
To help deepen and direct your breath, you can begin this practice by placing your palms below your belly button, on the sides of your ribcage, and over your heart. You will feel each part of your body rise and sink as you breathe in and out. By focusing on expansion in the body instead of trying to just suck in more air through the nose, you can breathe more comfortably and deeply.
Here's how it's done; scroll down for a complete step-by-step guide:
Begin by relaxing your shoulders away from your ears. Imagine your spine growing taller as the crown of your head lifts a little higher toward the ceiling. Let the bottom of your chin be parallel to the floor so the back of your neck is long.
Relax your jaw and the muscles of your face. Let your hands rest comfortably on your thighs.
Part 1: Belly Breathing
We will practice each part of the breath separately first, then all together.
Place your palms on your belly, fingertips pointing in. Breathe deeply in and out 5 times so that you feel your belly rise and fall beneath your hands.
This first part is essentially diaphragmatic breathing.
Part 2: Ribcage Breathing
Gently take your hands to the sides of your ribcage. Your fingers are in front and your thumbs wraps around back, like you are wearing mittens.
Breathe in and out 5 times. Imagine directing your breath to the middle of your lungs, and feel your ribcage widen and shrink like an accordion.
Part 3: Chest Breathing
Lastly, place one palm on your chest, just below your clavicle. Breathe in and out 5 times into the space between your palm and your upper back.
Try not to tense your shoulders, and instead keep the focus on the center of your chest and your upper back.
The Three Part Breath
Now we’ll put it all together for the Three Part Breath. Place one palm on your belly and one palm on your chest. Take a big, full breath, filling your belly first, then your ribs, then your chest. Exhale from your chest, your ribs, and finally your belly. Repeat for 10 breaths.
If the Three Part Breath feels like a strain, just choose just one part to focus your breath on instead.
I’m always amazed at how this technique can lift my mood and calm down. I hope it helps you, too!