3 DIMESIONAL BREATHING EXERCISE
3 Dimensional Breathing Exercise – The purpose of this exercise is to prepare the lungs for deeper pranayama practices, and to begin to understand and implement spontaneous kumbakha.
The exercises set out here combine classical pranayama practices, along with exercises that have evolved over many years of teaching and personal experience. The program sets out to take the student through a progressive series of exercises to achieve greater lung capacity, which leads to a controlled, yet effortless practice.
Pranayama techniques including sama vritti and samaveta are discussed and practiced using the subtle energy systems of yoga, along with contemporary anatomical and physiological science.
FIND YOUR SEATED POSITION
Before a serious and sustained practice can begin and be effective a comfortable seated posture will need to be established. If the mind is constantly drawn towards the discomfort in the body, the practice is likely to end there.
Muktasana is a variation on siddhasana where the heel of one foot is placed at the perineum, with the other heel resting in front, on the floor. Muktasana, meaning liberation posture, is perfect for pranayama and meditation. It is slightly more accessible than siddhasana, while retaining the benefits. If the hips are open the knees will readily fall out below the pelvis, ensuring the pelvis sits in a neutral position. This will allow the lumbar spine to retain its natural lordotic curve, making it easier to remain upright throughout. If needed, sit the tailbone on a cushion and this will tip the pelvis forward. It may then be necessary to support the knees if the thighs are tight.
BEGINNING THE PRACTICE
Now seated begin by closing the eyes and turning the awareness towards the tip of the nose.
Yoga describes 16 points, or adharas, that are easier to hold. Others include the heart centre, the navel, and the pit of the throat.
PREPARING THE MIND & BODY
As mentioned earlier if the body is uncomfortable then it becomes much harder to turn the attention to the breath. Yoga asana will prepare the body for prolonged seated practices, but if the mind is agitated the body will follow.
VAGUS NERVE TONING
A technique known as vagus nerve toning can quickly bring the mind into a calmer state, and therefore the body.
- Begin by observing the natural flow of the breath for a few minutes. Now take the breath down to the lower part of the belly, while noticing the belly expanding on the inhale, and retracting on the exhale.
- Next begin to slow down the breaths, until around six per minute.
- Continue for a few minutes.
Now the mind will be calmer, and it will be easier to settle.
Sama vritti means equal breath and is the first formal pranayama so far.
- Once again bring the awareness to the tip of the nose.
- Begin to count the breath in and out keeping it equal.
- This can be as simple as three in and three out.
- Be as accurate as possible.
- Do not force the breath but continue to practice.
- Continue for 5 minutes.
ESTABLISHING THE PRACTICE
So far, the practice has focused on calming the mind and settling the body, is vital to establishing a deep pranayama practice.
Adham Pranayama is abdominal or Lower Lobular Breathing. The breath is controlled and directed into the abdomen only. Autonomic breathing is of this type only.
- Practice taking the breath into an out of the abdomen only.
- Visualise the breath beginning at the centre of the abdomen and expanding out in all directions simultaneously, in a three dimensional way.
- Practice for five minutes
Madhyam Pranayama is thoracic breathing, or Between-the-ribs. The breath is controlled and directed into the middle lobes only.
- Practice taking the breath into space behind the ribs only.
- Visualise the breath beginning at the centre of the chest and expanding out in all directions simultaneously, in a three dimensional way.
- Practice for five minutes
Adhyam Pranayama is Clavicular or High Lobe Breathing where the breath is controlled and regulated into the superior lobes of the lungs.
- Practice taking the breath into space at the top of the chest only.
- It’s important to remember to not take the breath into the head
- sternocleidomastoid muscle
- Practice for five minutes
Remember the count of your breath, as we are now going to explore how to manage and increase the capacity to take our practice much further.
THREE PART BREATH
The three part breath practice is essentially one complete inhale and one complete exhale, in which the breath is taken equally into the abdomen, then the rib cage area, and finally the upper chest.
3 DIMESIONAL BREATHING EXERCISES
Three dimensional breathing is an adaptation of the three part breath, which will successfully aid in creating space for a much deeper breath.
HOW TO PRACTICE
- Begin with the 3 part breath for a couple of minutes.
- Now begin to visualise the breath expanding 3 dimensionally within each of the three spaces.
- When the breath is taken into the abdomen the space expands forward and backward, up, and down, and side to side at the same time.
- As the breath rises into the ribcage, feel the ribs forward, behind, and both sides expanding simultaneously.
- Continue with the breath lifting the top front of the chest, the upper back, and the upper armpits all in one continuous movement.
- Continue with this practice for 5-10 minutes.
Think about this practice as one continuous wave like motion with the breath rising on the inhalation and descending on the exhalation.
Begin to deepen the breath making the inhalations and exhalations longer and slower.
Remember do not force the breath or feel as if you are straining. There will be a feeling of effort, but not force.
Now let the breath fall back to a natural inhalation and exhalation. Let the breath find its own rhythm while remaining the observer.
- Notice a pause between the breaths.
- Do not force the breath in any way, just begin to allow a natural pause.
- Begin to let the awareness sit in the pause between the breaths.
- Allow the space to evolve into a spontaneous retention.
- Let the body decide when to take the next breath.
- Continue as long as the practice feels spontaneous.
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