Use this Three Sided Breathing Technique anytime and anywhere to physically relax your body and calm your mind. The more we practice breathing exercises, the more likely we are to react with slow, deep breaths when we need to most!
The three sided breathing exercise is easy! Just visualize an equilateral triangle. All three sides are of equal length representing: inhaling, holding, and exhaling the breath for an equal amount of time. Note that unlike four sided breathing, there is no second ‘hold’ between the exhale and the inhale.
The goal is to make sure each side of the breath is equal when doing three sided breathing. If you pick 4 seconds but can only exhale for 2 seconds, then shorten all of the sides to two seconds and build up from there when you are ready.
Follow along with the golden ring in this animated gif where all three sides are at four seconds. Look below the image for further details and additional tips.
Take a slow, deep INHALE through your nose right now. Fill your lungs completely and then push it all out. Take another breath filling from the bottom, from the diaphragm, all the way up to the top of your lungs. And push it all out. Now take a breath filling up your chest first and then continuing to inhale until your diaphragm is also full.
Inhaling should always be done through the nose to avoid getting a sore throat. Your nose is a natural filter.
Slow down that inhale to a trickle. Take complete control over the breath. Fill your lungs all the way.
HOLD the breath at the top. Feel the air in your body creating an internal pressure. Feel your heart beat perhaps.
Now, focus on your EXHALE. Push the air out from your diaphragm and empty your lungs completely. Squeeze all the air out of your chest. Feel the two movements and play with reversing the order. Breathe in and exhale from your chest then your diaphragm until all the air is out.
Put it all together. Make each side (Inhale, Hold, Exhale) the same length of time. You are doing three sided breathing!
When practicing three sided breathing always keep the three sides of the breath equal. Whether you do 1 second or 10 seconds a side it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are doing all three parts for an equal length of time. This will require you to control the flow of your breath; speeding it up or slowing it down as needed. I like to count out the seconds in my mind. They don’t have to be seconds just anything uniform.
Inhale…. 2…. 3…. 4…. Hold…. 2…. 3…. 4…. Exhale…. 2…. 3…. 4….
To really experience the different ways you can inhale and exhale the breath, place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Now take a deep breath in and out so that only one hand moves. Then do it again so that only the other hand moves. Lastly, put it together, breathe in so that one hand moves AND THEN the other hand until your lungs are all the way full and then empty.
Breathing exercises are not necessarily the same thing as meditation. But breathing exercises do make meditation a little easier by priming the mind and body to relax. Try using this three sided breathing technique 6-8 times and then go right into meditating. See if it makes a difference.
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