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Season 2 - Episode 9

Three-Part Breath

10 min - Practice
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Kari shares a simple breathing technique, Dirga Pranayama or Three-Part Breath—to bring awareness back into the belly, release tension, and invite a fresh sense of ease and calm into the body. You will feel relaxed.
What You'll Need: Blanket (2)

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(waves roll) Welcome. Today we're gonna play with one of my favorite Pranayama exercises, Dirga Pranayama or the three-part yogic breath. This is a really great way to kinda of bring some awareness back down into the belly. When we get anxious we have a tendency to constrict the breath up into the chest. So the Dirga Pranayama really allows us to get into the belly, into the inner costals of the ribs, all the way up into the upper lobes of the lungs.

So what we're gonna need are two blankets. And if you don't have yoga blankets at home, a towel's a really great substitute. And you're just gonna wanna make a long skinny roll with either your blanket or your towel, and you're gonna have one up at the front of your mat as well. And what we're gonna do is just turn around, and we're actually gonna bring the tailbone up onto the edge of that blanket so I'm sitting on it. It's not gonna be the most comfortable thing to start, but it'll feel yummy once we get down there.

You're gonna take the second blanket, and I'm gonna bring the soles of my feet together and do a Baddha Konasana. And I'm gonna place that blanket roll across the tops of my ankles, and then I'm just gonna lift one knee and then the other and just take this nice little donut roll around my ankles for support. And then bringing the hands back, turning the fingertips to face the buttocks if that feels okay, and just take a moment to open up the heart. Feel those ribs expand. Feel the heart lift.

Big, full breaths. And then just nice and slowly, I'm gonna start to soften through my low back as I bend my elbows, and I'm just gonna lower and extend my spine into this blanket roll. And as I do so, just taking time to make sure that each vertebra is nice and supported. And we also wanna make sure that the head is supported here. So if you're a little bit taller, you may need to readjust and scooch forward.

So just play with it, what feels right for you. And then as you settle in, we're just gonna take a moment to let those shoulder blades drop back and down to the sides of that blanket roll. So we're already in this really beautiful opening here for the rib cage. And you'll feel how those floating ribs are already just naturally starting to lift inward and upward, which is really helpful for this three-part yogic breath. So as you settle and get comfortable for your body, just gonna invite you to take the hands and just very gently place them down on that lower belly.

So my elbows are dropped, my shoulders are relaxed. Jaw is soft. And just start to connect with this breath here, down low into the belly. So as I inhale, I'm gonna let my navel rise and expand. And as I exhale, let that belly drop towards the spine.

Inhale into the belly. And exhale. (exhales) That sense of deflating. And you'll feel how that belly can really expand into the hands. And sometimes this feels a little foreign.

Sometimes if that breath has gotten restricted, this low belly breath can feel a little out of reach. So if that's the case for you, you may wanna bring those hands even closer together towards your navel. And in that case, I like to close my fingers. And then as I inhale, I'm trying to separate my fingers with the expansion of my belly breath. (exhales) (exhales) And just see if you can feel that belly rise and fall like a balloon into the hands.

(exhales) And then once you feel like you've found that relationship with belly breath, we're gonna bring our awareness now up into the rib cage. So the hands are just gonna slide on up, and they're gonna rest here on the sides of the ribs. And it's that same sort of action, that sense of expanding, but now it's gonna be its own unique breath here into the mid lobes of the lungs, stretching out those inner costal muscles between the ribs. So take a big inhale into the thoracic spine. And exhale. (exhales)

Inhale to widen. And exhale to release. (exhales) Now, the other thing to keep in mind here with this more thoracic mid body breath is that the rib cage wraps around us like a beautiful basket. And we wanna expand all sides. So it's not just out into my hands here, but also into the front and the back side of the rib cage.

So inhale, see if you can feel into that expansion in 360 degrees. And then once you feel connected to that rib cage breath, we're gonna take it up even higher still into the upper lobes of the lungs. Now, I find the easiest way to bring some awareness there is to hook my thumbs in towards the armpits. It's almost like Superstar, right? So hooking those thumbs into the armpits, then let the fingertips come up to rest towards the clavicle, towards that collar bone.

And then we just wanna, again, soften the elbows, drop the shoulders. And then inhale all the way up here into the fingertips, up into the collarbones. (exhales) And as we start to connect with this upper lobe breath, you'll feel the sternum rise towards the chin. You'll also start to feel a little bit of expansion in between the shoulder blades towards that blanket roll. Now, if this upper lobe breath is feeling like it's maybe a little out of reach or a little foreign, sometimes it's helpful to take a deeper and more exaggerated nose sniff.

So it's gonna be an inhale through the nose. (inhales) And exhale with a... (exhales) Inhale through the nose. (inhales) Exhale with a... (exhales) (exhales) And then once we've connected with those three individual breaths, let the arms soften and release.

Feel the shoulders and ribs again melt to either side of that blanket roll that's supporting the spine. And we're gonna bring all three of those breaths together into one continuous full inhale, followed by a complete cleansing exhale. So we're gonna move up from the belly to the ribs to the heart. (exhales) Inhale belly. Inhale ribs.

Inhale upper chest. Exhale everything. (exhales) Start to find your own rhythm. (exhales) The breath starts to become wavelike. (exhales) Rising.

Cresting. (exhales) Returning. (exhales) Few more rounds, your rhythm. (exhales) (exhales) Last one, pull in as much beautiful oxygen as you can. (exhales deeply) And then just allow the breath to return to ease.

And feel the calming, grounding effects on the body and even more importantly, between the ears. The stilling of the mind. And in your own time, slowly allowing the inner thighs to begin to come together, the knees to join as the feet fall to the earth. Pause here for a moment, just feeling that support and length of the spine. And then rolling off of that blanket, gently towards your side lying position.

And then rising up to a seat. Letting the hands come together. Thank you for joining me for Dirga Pranayama. Namaste.

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