Sitting in an upright position, or lying down on your back, find a comfortable position you can sustain for a period of five to ten minutes.
Release any unnecessary tension, loosening your limbs, and gently bringing awareness to your breath. You need only to observe your breath – do not change it.
With each inhale and exhale, observe the movements and sensations in your body. Feel the air passing in from your nose, through your throat, and into your lungs. Feel the expansion of your chest, your belly.
Continue doing this.
In order to experience deep breathing, you must first identify and experience the three types of breathing that comprise it:
- Abdominal Breathing
- Thoracic Breathing
- Clavicular Breathing
For this exercise, you may wish to lay down on your back. Place your right hand atop your navel, and your left atop your chest. Start by observing the natural flow of your breath for a few cycles.
With your next inhale, think of intentionally sending the air towards your navel by letting your abdomen expand and rise. Your right hand will rise with your inhale and fall with your exhale. Your left hand should remain still.
Continue this style of breathing for a few minutes. Do not strain your abdomen. Keep it expanding and relaxing freely. After a few repetitions, return to your natural style of breathing.
Now, shift your attention to your ribcage.
With your next inhale, think of intentionally sending the air towards your rib cage instead of your abdomen. Breathe through your chest without engaging your diaphragm, slowly and deeply. Your left hand will rise with your inhale and fall with your exhale. Your right hand should remain still.
Continue this style of breathing for a few minutes. Do not strain. Allow your thorax to expand and rise freely. After a few repetitions, return to your natural style of breathing.
With your next inhale, repeat the thoracic breathing pattern.
When your ribcage has completely expanded, inhale further, allowing the air to fill the upper section of your lungs at the base of your neck. Feel your shoulders and collar bones rise gently and find more space for the extra air to fill.
Exhale slowly, letting your collarbones and shoulders fall first, then continue with releasing the air within your ribcage.
Continue this style of breathing for a few minutes. Then return to your natural style of breathing.
Finally, let us turn our attention to yogic breathing.
As with the previous practices, begin by lying on your back with your right hand atop your navel, and your left atop your chest. As you gain more experience, you can try this in a seated position.
Focus on your natural breathing, before moving through the three stages of deep breathing sequentially. First send your inhales towards your naval by letting your abdomen expand and rise freely. Then move to passing air to your ribcage, allowing it to expand fully. Finally pass your inhale through to your collarbones, raising them and your shoulders. When you exhale, do so slowly, dropping your shoulders, then your ribcage, and finally releasing your abdomen.
Draw your attention to your hands as they rise and fall.
Begin counting each inhale and exhale you take, keeping the same ratio. If your inhale takes the count of four, your exhale should also take the count of four. If your inhale takes the count of six, your exhale should also take the count of six.
After a few repetitions, return to your natural style of breathing.
Learn more about the importance of breathing in my 200-hr Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training.