Yoga for Grief Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 7

3-Part Breathing Practice

10 min - Practice


Michelle guides us through a 3-part pranayama practice to open the various parts of the torso that can become restricted when we are in a state of grief. This practice will hopefully result in promoting more spaciousness and ease in the body.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

Nov 11, 2019
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Welcome back. So this is a pranayama, or a breath exercise, called three-part breath. And the intention is to open the various parts, in this case the three parts of the torso, that can become restricted or where we can have some habitual holding or shrinking when we're in this state of grief. So let's start first with settling. You can sit in a chair for any of these breath or meditation practices, or on the ground. So get comfortable where you are, always settling into the base, into the support that you're on, and taking a moment to tune into what the natural breath is doing. Being aware of your states, physical state, emotional state, mental state, and the quality of the breath here. There's nothing to do, nothing to fix, no way that you need to be different than you are right now. So we'll begin this exploration with one or both hands on the abdomen. And you can be right to the sides of the abdomen, or just over below the navel. And invite the breath down into the belly to create an expansion or shape change on the breath. So the inhale has this gentle swelling, expansion, and the exhale has a gentle condensing of the abdomen. And this isn't anything to force or push, it might be a very subtle movement, just a very subtle invitation of expanding and condensing. Natural paced breath, keep the shoulders easy, the face relaxed. Okay, and then release the hands, let the hands come back to the lap or thighs for a moment. And then we'll try the hands on the sides of the body, at the ribs. So if it's comfortable, you can have your hands on the ribs on the same sides of the body. If it works better, have your hands around so that you're holding or touching the opposite ribs. Whatever feels easier for you in your shoulders and with your construction, the way you're put together. Anywhere you can just gently get contact with the feeling of side rib. And now the invitation is to invite breath into this middle section, the rib cage, and feel a swelling, an expansion on the inhale, and then a condensing on the exhale. Again, this might be really subtle, and of course you'll still feel breath in other parts of the torso, shape change in other parts of the torso, but we're inviting the concentration of the movement of this expansion and condensing into the ribs. A few cycles here.

And then with an exhale, let that go and close the eyes if that feels right. Just have a moment. Notice your posture. If anything about you is feeling different. And our last investigation before we put this all together is to have the hands on the chest. And this one could be tricky because we don't want the breath to come up into the neck which can create some tension or feeling of tenseness. But the lungs are here in the chest and so they change volume which means they will change shape. So we're inviting or noticing what already happens, a natural shape change of expansion on the inhale, and a condensing or releasing on the exhale. A few rounds of breath with this. And keep in mind, even though we've had our hands on the front of the body mainly, that we are three-dimensional. So this is also happening in the back, in the sides.

And then with an exhalation, letting your hands go again. Take a moment to orient, to feel your states, your energy. And then we'll put this together and we'll explore a slightly elongated breath that brings these three sections into wholeness. So I'll just describe it briefly. We'll inhale. It'll start in that expansion of the three-dimensional belly. It'll rise up to shape change in the middle section, ribs. And then it'll lastly come up and you'll have perhaps this sense of expansion in the front and back sides of the chest. Okay, so a full easy exhale.

And then inhale. You can use your hands if you like. Belly, ribs, chest. As you exhale opposite, belly, ribs, chest. And then again, abdomen, ribs, chest. And exhale from the belly, from the ribs, from the chest. Twice more on your own. And at the end of that second exhale, again, let the breath go back to neutral and just orient yourself for a moment. Feel yourself. Notice if the internal state has changed, if this has affected your posture, the quality or many qualities of your breath. I've found that in the right moment, this can be a really welcoming way to open up parts of the torso to affect the posture in a way that feels more spacious, that has a larger container for all of the paradoxical qualities that are present in any given moment.

It can also be a soothing breath practice that you can come to anytime. Thank you so much for practicing. See you next time.


Sandra Židan
Great and helpful practice! Thanks!

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