Mindfulness Challenge #10: 3 Part Breath
As you first learn this breathing technique, I recommend that you practice lying down so that you can fully explore and feel your breath. If that’s not available to you, please adapt directions for a seated position. There is no right or wrong way to practice this breath.
- Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs or place your legs on a chair or bed with knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
- Allow yourself to settle into a comfortable position. What are you noticing? Where are your feet, your arms, what is the position of your neck? Scan your body from your toes to the crown of your head. Are you noticing any sensations in your toes, ankles, legs, back, arms, shoulders, neck, face, all the way to the crown of your head. What do you hear, taste, feel, see?
- Place both hands on your belly. If available*, inhale slowly through your nose so that your stomach expands, causing your belly to expand into your hands. You may also feel the lower part of your back press into the floor. Purse your lips as if you are blowing up a balloon and exhale through your mouth allowing your belly to flatten. Repeat this 3 times.
- Leave one hand on your belly and place the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe. Inhale starting by allowing your belly to rise and allow it to rise up into your lower rib cage. Your lower back may again press into the floor, belly rise into your hand and the rib cage will feel like it’s starting to expand up and out. As you exhale, allow your rib cage to relax and your belly to flatten. Repeat this 3 times.
- Leave one hand on your belly and place the other on your chest near your heart center. Begin your inhale by allowing your belly, continue to allow it to rise up through your lower rib cage and into your heart center. Your lower back may again press into the floor, belly rise into your hand, the rib cage will feel like it’s starting to expand, and your chest may extend up and out. At the top of your inhale, sip in another bit of breath and hold for a count of 3. This is your full expression of breath. Enjoy. As you exhale, allow your chest then rib cage to relax followed your belly to flatten. Repeat this 3 times.
- Allow both arms and hands to relax down to the floor or bed with palms up towards the sky and resume your breath.
- What are you noticing now? Repeat the body scan. Any shift, any new information presented?
The benefits of practicing this breath technique are broad and may include bringing awareness to your breath, reducing stress, and inviting your brain and body into a space of calm. To learn more, please search for “3 part breath” or “diaphragmatic breath” and you will find a ton of resources, videos, and research.
The picture is of our cat Leon, enjoying a moment of calm as I type this :). Enjoy this practice daily (if available) and happy 2023!
* If you are feeling congested or struggling to inhale through your nose, please gently open your mouth to inhale and exhale–give yourself whatever support you need to encourage comfort.