In many of my practices, locally and online, you will hear me prompting the use of the 3 part breath. Some of you may be familiar with this breathing practice from your local studio (often taught as the most basic breath), and others may have no prior experience with this breathing practice. Recently I had questions posed about why I always prompt this breath practice, what it does, and how it works exactly. Hopefully my explanation will shed some light.
The 3 part breath is the basis of all breathing practices or pranayama. All other practices are based on this technique and work using this technique. While it would seem intuitive to use this breath all the time, stress, tension, constriction have all played a part in making this breathing practice more challenging for many.
We were actually born to breath this way - actively moving the diaphragm up and down and filling the belly up, then chest then shoulder space. Watch a baby sleep and you will see how it is prewired for our health. So what does this breath do?
1. Tones and strengthens the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the top of the core and keeping the core strong and healthy is VERY important for the entire body (internally and externally). By keeping the diaphragm moving up and down (doming and concave), we tone this area (this is what helps us bring breath into the belly).
2. The diaphragms movement helps massage our internal organs. If you think a massage works wonders, imagine what it does for your internal organs - especially your digestive system. In a world plagued with digestion problems, giving some love to the digestive organs can help keep these organs healthy and functioning optimally.
3. We use the ENTIRE lung capacity. Our lungs are actually way bigger than we think. I was told swimmers often have very large lungs (requiring double x-rays to fit it all in) because of their breathing techniques. Yogis often have the same lung capacity. Who doesn't want to breath better and more? More oxygenation is definitely better for us!
4. It is soothing and calming. Take a moment right now to focus on your breath. Allow your belly to expand, then your chest, then the shoulder/collarbone area. Take 5 breaths. Sense the soothing effect of these breaths. Tension releases, stress dissipates, the mind becomes clearer, the body softens.
5. And let's not forget how useful this breath can be for athletes, musicians and many more people who use breath in their chosen career. Depth of breath is pivotal to performance. So why not be like a well trained athlete or talented musician and develop the best breath you can? Imagine what you could do?
Try this out: take one hand to your belly, one hand to your chest. Sit up tall and inhale filling the belly and allowing the lower hand to rise or move outwards, then feel the breath fill the chest (same effect for the top hand) and finally fill the upper collar/shoulder space. Think of this breath as 3 dimensional as well - filling the space in the back and the side body. Exhale reversing the entire process. Practice will make this breath practice intuitive for you and whenever you feel stressed, anxious, depressed, this is a great breath to go to for some immediate relief and to help you manage feelings of overwhelm.
Use this breath whenever you can, as often as you can, to relax, release, ground and balance your energy!
See you on the mat! Peace, Aprille
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I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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