Ever have one of those days when it feels like you just can’t catch your breath? There’s so much going on, so much to do, just too many things happening at once… We’ve all been there. In those moments, it’s time to take a deep breath.
One of the best things about Yoga is it’s secret weapon against stress. It’s something that can be done anytime, anywhere, by anyone. This amazing Yoga Tool is called Deergha Swasaam, or Deep Three-Part Breathing.
This is a practice of relaxing breaths that use all of the lungs, not just the upper chest. This kind of breathing sends a signal to the body and mind that the sympathetic nervous system, aka the Stress Response, can calm down, and the parasympathetic nervous system, or Peace Response, can take over. Heart rate lowers, hormone function returns to healthy levels. When practiced regularly, and at times of stress, Deep Three-Part Breathing can have a very beneficial effect on your overall health.
This practice is very easy to do*. Read the instructions through first, then try it yourself.
- Sit or lie down comfortably, so that you can breathe easily. Place one hand over your heart and the other on your belly. If it’s comfortable for you to do so, close your eyes, or cast your gaze softly a few feet in front of you.
- Start your next breath by expanding your abdomen, then bringing that breath to the lower ribs, and finally to your upper chest. No need to fill your lungs to the point of discomfort; this is just a nice, deep breath, going from the bottom to the top, gently.
- Exhale from the top of your chest, relax your lower ribs, and gently pull in your abdomen. Again, no need to empty your lungs to the point of gasping; think of the nice way you feel after a sigh of relief.
- Repeat: Inhale from abdomen, to lower ribs, to upper chest; exhale from upper chest, relax lower ribs, gently pull in abdomen. Your pace is neither too slow nor too fast. Try this for 3-5 breaths, then let your breathing return to its natural rhythm. Repeat as needed.
Do this practice the first thing in the morning, so you can begin your day calmly. It will make you more efficient and clear-thinking, which makes everything much more pleasant. You can also do Deergha Swasaam any time you need to throughout the day.
* If you have any kind of respiratory issues, please check with your doctor before trying this or any other breathing exercise. If at any time you feel lightheaded, simply discontinue the practice, allowing your breathing to return to normal.