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Three-Part Breath (dirgha pranayama)

Breathing technique that strengthens your chest, lung and diaphragm muscles.
 

Three Part Breath (or dirgha pranayama) exercise strengthens your chest, lung and diaphragm muscles, while increasing your lung capacity. Also called Full Yogic Breath or Complete Yoga Breath, practicing this exercise can also calm your mind and relax your body. You should be comfortable performing the Abdominal Breath Exercise, before you try this exercise.
 
As you inhale in Three Part Breath, focus on the expansion of your abdomen, ribs and then your chest. You may even be able to feel the movement of your breath up to your shoulders. As you exhale, feel these same areas fall, starting from your chest to your ribs and then to your abdomen. Your body should also soften and release as you exhale. Although you are breathing in three parts during this exercise, you should concentrate on taking one smooth inhalation and one smooth exhalation.
 
Use caution performing this exercise if you have serious lung or breathing problems.
 
Steps:
Begin in Relaxation Pose.
Rest your palms lightly on your abdomen. The tips of your middle fingers should meet at your navel.
Inhale slowly through your nose and feel your abdomen rise.
Exhale slowly through your nose and feel your abdomen fall.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you feel comfortable breathing into your abdomen.
Rest your palms lightly on the bottom of your rib cage.
Inhale slowly through your nose and feel your rib cage expand.
Exhale slowly through your nose and feel your rib cage release.
Repeat steps 7 and 8 for three to five breaths.
Rest your palms lightly on the top of your chest.
Inhale slowly through your nose and feel your chest expand.
Exhale slowly through your nose and feel your chest release.
Repeat steps 11 and 12 for three to five breaths.
Place one palm on your abdomen and place the other palm on your ribs or your chest.
Inhale slowly through your nose, feeling your abdomen, then your rib cage and then your chest expand.
Exhale slowly through your nose, allowing your breath to release from your chest, then your rib cage and then your abdomen.
Repeat steps 15 and 16 for 2 to 5 minutes
 
How can I ensure that I am breathing correctly in this exercise?
You can use your arms as a guideline to ensure you are breathing correctly. As you inhale, raise your arms off the floor. When you feel the bottom of your ribs expand, your fingers should be pointing toward the ceiling. When you feel your chest expand, your arms should be on the floor above your head. Move your arms in the opposite direction as you exhale.
 
How can I feel more comfortable as I perform this exercise?
If your neck is tense, perform the exercise with a pillow or folded blanket under your head. If your back is uncomfortable, place a large pillow under your knees. You can also relieve strain on your back by bending your knees and placing your feet hip width apart on the floor.
 
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