Published: 29 March 2009 | Written by Swami Veda Bharati
Sequential Steps in Learning to Breathe Diaphragmatically
(1) Diaphragmatic Breathing in Crocodile Position [Makarasana]
To learn to breathe correctly and to learn to relax by using the correct way of breathing, lie on your stomach, cross your arms, or put one hand on the other, and rest your forehead on the arms, or on the hand; not bending your neck.
Your toes touching, your heels apart, and ankles practically flat on the ground. Your shoulders flat. Your armpits practically touching the ground.
Bring your attention away from all other places and be aware of only the place where you are lying down.
Be aware of only the space that your body is occupying from head to toe.
Now become aware of the flow of your breath. Observe the flow of your breath, as though your breath is flowing through your whole body from top to toes and toes to top.
Breathe gently, slowly, smoothly; no jerk in your breathing; no break in your breathing. Exhale all your tensions and stress; inhale a feeling of fullness, relaxation, peace and purity.
Now bring your attention to the gentle rise and fall of your stomach and the navel area. Observe how that area gently lifts from the ground as you exhale; how it gently touches the ground as you inhale.
Observe that movement with the gentle rhythm of your breathing. This is known as diaphragmatic breathing. No break, no jerks.
Continue to observe the rise and fall of the stomach and navel area, with the gentle rhythm of your breathing; observe which muscles are moving to constitute that movement—and by observing that, learn to breathe correctly, so that you may always breathe in this manner.
You may lie in this position as long as you normally wish.
Continue to breathe in this way, taking note of how the movement occurs along with your breathing.
(2) In Corpse Position [Shavasana]
Now, gently roll over and lie on your back with your feet apart, arms separate from the body, along side the body, back of the hand resting on the ground.
Let your entire body relax and again, continue to breathe as you were breathing in the crocodile position.
Observe the gentle rise and fall of the stomach and navel area.
Observe how that area gently relaxes and slightly inflates as you inhale; how it slightly contracts as you exhale.
Place your left palm in the center of your bosom. Place your right palm on your stomach between the sternum and the navel—continue to breathe as before.
Observe that there is no movement under the left palm on the chest. The movement should be felt only under the right palm only.
As you exhale and inhale, gently observe the flow of your breath. No jerks in your breathing; no break.
You may lie in this position, observing the flow of your breath, 10-20 minutes two or three times a day for complete relaxation.
One way to quickly relax your body and your mind is this way we will go through together.
Do this practice for 5 minutes, or less or more than that whenever and wherever is convenient—sitting on a sofa, on an office chair, in a bus, in a car, in a meeting or alone.
• Either of the two exercises, or both in sequence, 10-20 minutes two or three times a day, will change the texture and tone of your life in many ways.