Yogic Q & A: WHAT IS DIRGA SWASAM PRANAYAMA?

Also known as the three-part breath, Dirga (or Deerga) Swasam Pranayama is often the first breathing that is practiced before the integration of asana. 

The full name comes from two Sanskrit words. The word “Dirga” has several meanings, including, slow, deep, long, and complete. “Swasam” refers to the breath. Therefore, this practice is sometimes also referred to as “Complete Breath.”

The “three parts” are the abdomen, diaphragm, and chest. During three-part breath, you first completely fill your lungs with air, as though you are breathing into your belly, rib cage, and upper chest. Then you exhale completely, reversing the flow. 

Three-Part Breath is often used at the very beginning of a yoga practice to settle in and prepare oneself for practice and meditation. This technique is particularly beneficial in everyday life because it requires no special sound or position to achieve a grounded and relaxed state of awareness.

WHY PRACTICE DIRGA PRANAYAMA?

Ineffective breathing is a common problem in today’s modern world, compounded by poor posture and long periods of sitting or driving. When we breathe shallowly (called “chest breathing”), the air only enters your upper chest and very little enters your lower chest. 

This causes a lack of oxygen to your blood vessels, which can create a strain on your heart and lungs. However, learning to breathe deeply will increase your oxygen supply, which, in turn, will help to decrease stress and anxiety levels. Therefore, practicing Dirga Pranayama teaches you to breathe fully and completely